The pop-up operating out of the popular neighborhood bar (and restaurant) El Chavo had been around so long that many thought it was permanent. But it's about to step aside for a different restaurant entirely.
El Chavo is located on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border. It always attracted a wide mix of locals and glitterati; the most venerated diner was Dolly Parton. There was even a painting of her overlooking the bar, which added to an overall decor scheme that would now be described as kitschy, with colored lights and decorative sombreros all over the place. The restaurant opened in 1966 and had generations of loyal customers, even though the food wasn't very good. A few years ago the attached bar, El Chavito, opened, creating fans out of all the hot young things in the neighborhood, some of whom swore that the famous margaritas must've had Everclear in them.
The whole complex was sold last year, and while the new owners decided what to do long-term, a pop-up trio took over operations. Ceviche Project set up in the dining room for a few months; Freddy Vargas, formerly of Scarpetta, took over the kitchen for a bit; and Cocktail Academy sent some of its mixologists to the bar. The back patio was put to greater use, and the whole place adopted more of a party vibe. Alas, this particular party is over as of Sept. 4.
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Before it goes, the pop-up — now run solely by Cocktail Academy — will be throwing weekend parties run on booze and Mexican-American snacks. The Academy is definitely hoping for a blowout and, given how packed the patio has been of late, probably will get its wish.
As for the future of El Chavo, the new owners aren't telling. There have been rumors that they wanted to turn the plot (which includes a huge and little-used parking lot) into a Brentwood Country Mart–style complex. For now, the best information available says that it will be fully remodeled and transformed into three separate food and beverage outlets. Wonder if any will serve Everclear margaritas.
El Chavo closes for good on Sept. 4. Hours until then: Fri. & Sat., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.-mid.
4441 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 664-0871, elchavo.com.