Best of L.A.

Best Of 2013


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Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Wine Shop That's Also a Bar
Colorado Wine Company
Photo: Andy Hermann

A bright spot on an otherwise sleepy stretch of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, Colorado Wine Company has long stood out for its cheeky, unpretentious approach to the guzzling of the grape. (The annual white-trash wine tasting, which pairs things like tater tots and pinot noir, is always a sellout.) But since moving into new, cozier digs last November, it's become something else: a Cheers-like neighborhood bar in a neighborhood that desperately needed one. Most nights of the week — especially Fridays, when they pour a five-wine flight for a mere $15 — you can find a convivial mix of locals and cork dorks from all over town crowding around the rough-hewn hunk of reclaimed wood that serves as both bar and checkout counter. There's a rotating selection of wines by the glass and six beers on tap — but pop a bottle to share with your newfound bar buddies. Corkage is only five bucks — except Wednesdays, when it's free. 2305 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 478-1985, —Andy Hermann

2305 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 90041
Best Pint by the Beach
Venice Ale House
Photo: Anya Cohen

Most beachside-bar real estate revolves around location in lieu of quality — a harrowing fact of life to the coastal craft beer lover. Where others have rested on the laurels of a nice locale, Venice Ale House unites a superb local beer selection with an ocean view. Plunk yourself onto a patio seat where you'll rub elbows with boardwalk commuters, or enjoy a slight remove at the bustling bar and choose from 32 beers originating from Colorado and points west. Note the "almost always" available chalkboard beer list in addition to the rotational selection — all are on tap. A "skate of beers" delivers a flight of four, six or eight samples suspended on an immobilized skateboard. With all that amazing beer and the enchanting sunset over the ocean, you're bound to need sustenance. Try the grass-fed burger to satisfy that primal, beer-induced hunger. This seaside pint — or flight — will be one you won't forget. 2 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 314-8253, —Erika Bolden

2 Rose Ave., Los Angeles, 90291
Best Mosh Pit
Vex Arts

When you see a great hardcore band there's always tons of energy, and this is particularly true at the Vex Arts performance space. The stuffy, sweaty room is home to the most raging slam dancing, stage-diving and dog piles in Los Angeles County. Legendary East L.A. precursor the Vex dated back to the days of Black Flag but shut its doors in 1984. Thankfully, a year ago it returned in the new location as a multipurpose space. Again spearheaded by Joe "Vex" Suquette, it hosts everything from art shows and concerts to skateboard workshops. But the real ragers are the hardcore shows, featuring veteran acts like Infest and Chain of Strength alongside up-and-comers Stoic Violence and Nomads. Once you enter the mosh pit, you won't want to leave. (Until you start bleeding, that is.) 5240 Alhambra Ave., El Sereno. (323) 221-0971, —Nicholas Pell

5240 Alhambra Ave., Los Angeles, 90032
Best Jazz Club
The Baked Potato

In decades past, jazz fanatic Clint Eastwood hung at Studio City jazz spot the Baked Potato. Oh, and Police guitarist Andy Summers gigged there following the supergroup’s breakup, Slash played in jam sessions there after Guns N’ Roses, and in recent years Joe Bonamassa has slipped in for sets before a hundred fans instead of the thousands that fill his arena shows. The venue was founded in 1970 by Don Randi, and his son Justin is there most nights now behind the bar and out front tweaking the room’s legendary sound. Music fans from around the world pass through the doors, and the club can be considered L.A.’s answer to New York’s Village Vanguard: a small room where some of the world’s greatest musicians stop by to listen and play with their peers. The patrons themselves feel like they’re sitting in. 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City. (818) 980-1615, —Tom Meek

3787 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Studio City, 91604
6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90035
Best Blues Club

The aptly named World Famous Barnyard is about as low-down and lively a blues venue as you'll find anywhere in the nation. Featuring live blues, soul, old-school jazz and R&B, this bring-your-own-booze celebration situation happens every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. at 97th and Main in South Central. It's nothing but a vacant lot strewn with rows of used commodes and kitchen appliances, only partially paved and barely covered with an old awning. It features a revolving crew of hardcore local blues bands but, since there's no website, no publicist and no phone, you never know what to expect — except that it'll be as genuine as it can be. 9627 S. Main St., Broadway-Manchester. —Jonny Whiteside

9627 Main St., Los Angeles, 90003
8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069
Best Blues Party
Pete Anderson's Club 652@Burbank Moose Lodge Mondays
Flickr photo: Gareth Simpson

Pete Anderson's Club 652@Burbank Moose Lodge Mondays goes down weekly at 8 p.m. (except when Pete's on tour) and runs as precisely as a Swiss clock. The acclaimed, Detroit-born guitarist and his always–first rate combo provide a luxurious, rich mess of all original blues. The music is exhilarating in its bite, feel and delivery, and always displays Anderson's obsessive fixation on what he calls the "3 Ts" — tone, time and taste. The setting is a tiny, neon beer sign–lit, old-school tavern, which is overseen by the rather eccentric, bearded Moose Lodge shot-caller/barkeep Bailey. It provides the perfect atmosphere for the music. Also: The drinks are cheap, kids are permitted, and there's no cover charge, making Anderson's Moose Lodge Mondays always a gasser. 1901 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. (818) 842-5851, —Jonny Whiteside

1901 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, 91506

Best Wine Shop That's Also a Bar: Colorado Wine Company


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