By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
739 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 939-0703
Familiar Faves and the Real Raves
Brass Monkey: You can reserve a large table for your pals at this Koreatown karaoke spot, but getting them to actually take the mike is another story. If your group gets hammered enough to try a tune, forget Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” or “Summer Lovin’” from the Greasesoundtrack — so tired — and try something genuinely awful from, say, Air Supply or Milli Vanilli. They’ve got a lot to choose from. A fresh twist on putting on the hits: Make everyone sing only ’80s tunes, diva disco anthems or songs dedicated to you.
3440 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, (213) 381-7047
El Coyote: Tried and true as the commode you’re guaranteed to be frequenting the day after reveling here, El Coyote has probably seen more birthdays, girls’ nights and after-work dish ’n’ dash than any other Mexican restaurant in town (El Compadre comes in a close second), and whenever we go back, we remember why: cheap drinks and that wonderfully tacky ambiance.
7312 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 939-2255
Formosa: Maybe it’s the ghost of all the old movie stars that used to come here from the nearby Warner Hollywood Studios (or their photos, which look down on you from the walls), but this place hearkens back to a simpler time, which makes it primo for a more low-key get-together. Big groups can take over the backroom for even more privacy.
7156 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 850-9050
Star Shoes/Beauty Bar: S.S. is a great place for footwear fiends to have a birthday. Have pals who don’t know what to get you buy you drinks — and vintage sandals. Continue the make-over around the corner at B.B. with a $10 martini and manicure. Too bad they don’t do pedicures to go with your new floozy shoesies.
S.S.: 6364 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 462-7827
B.B.: 1638 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 464-7676
Key Club: There’s always something interesting going on at this Sunset Strip venue — cabaret-style dance troupes, Trashy Lingerie parties, jazz nights — and the upstairs restaurant provides a nice way to absorb it all with a group, while the downstairs Plush Lounge offers a more private groove grotto where you can watch the big room’s entertainment on a projection screen while lounging on comfy couches.
1638 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 464-7676
Grand Star: It’s got occasional live jazz and scary karaoke, but this beloved Chinatown eatery is best known for its upstairs club action, the most enduring of which, Club Firecracker, has been attracting cool peeps and sick turntable talent for five years now.
943 N. Broadway, Chinatown, (213) 417-8824
14 Below: Never got to see Van Halen or Journey or Kiss in concert? Wanna relive the excitement? This tribute-group haven rules, dude, offering loads of laughs and, every so often, really good sound-alikes — such as Stonesy band Sticky Fingers, who even do costume changes for each musical era.
1348 14th St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-5040
Bigfoot Lodge: The dark, woodsy vibe and ample bench seating and booth space turn this Atwater joint into a jumpin’ place to bring the gang, and DJ Lee’s cool mix of obscurities and groovy classics (Thursday and Saturday) provide a rockin’ but not too noisy soundtrack for chatting and chugging.
3172 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater, (323) 662-9227
El Cid: The flamenco shows remain, but a lot has changed here. The outdoor patio is bigger and better, as is the menu. But it’s the promoters and performers — such as the old-school dance night Popcorn and the burlesquesy revue “The Super Sexy Show” — that have brought a new kind of fiery dancing and fervent energy to this Silver Lake classic.
4212 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 668-0318‰
The Rainbow: Rock & roll royalty don’t reign here the way they once did (unless you count regular Lemmy Killmeister), but this dark restaurant/bar remains a cool place to meet-and-greet, with a history that’s hard to forget thanks to all the photos and posters of hairy boys plastered everywhere, not to mention the loud background music. For a really big event, do like guitarist Tom Morello did last year and take over the upstairs back bar and dance floor.
9015 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 278-4232
The Temple Bar: A multicultural ambiance and a superfriendly staff make this Westside wonderland a good-vibe place to gather. It always feels festive, with rhythmic hip-hop, Latin and electro acts providing lively energy nightly, the sweet aroma of incense wafting through the air and smiling Buddhas looking down at — and no doubt bringing luck to — all who enter.
1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 393-6611
Lucky Strike: It lacks the old-time magic of Hollywood Lanes, but for those who love to bowl it’s a better option than driving to Eagle Rock’s All Star Lanes or fighting through the tourist hordes at Universal CityWalk to get to Jillian’s. Yes, it’s attached to the Hollywood and Highland monstrosity, but this caf√©/bar/bowling facility is surprisingly laid-back — you can reserve a lane or get there a little earlier than your guests and snag one or two. Unless there’s some big private party, the wait’s not bad. Sssstrike: Great music from the ’70s and ’80s. Gutter ball: Service is way slow.