The Place: Melody Bar & Grill, 9132 S. Sepulveda Blvd.; (310) 670-1994.
The Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
The Digs: As planes in the sky above shoot forward, Melody Bar & Grill saunters back to a casually defined retro past. The bordello-red wallpaper, ski lodge stone hearth, gooey leather booths and diner-style logo partner with large televisions playing a steady clear stream of seasonal sports. You want to hear Sinatra backed by Link Wray, or maybe just Elvis, whose sneering portrait dominates the mural expanding across the exterior wall of the rear entrance. Instead, a teutonic duo fills the just-stale-enough air with backing track-bolstered renditions of "Sea of Love" and the oft-covered hitchhiking ode "Wagon Wheel."
As they sing, a well-dressed man circles the stage, filming diligently, zooming in and out. The menu includes mac-n-cheese in multiple variations, but also a weird world tour of dive cuisine, such as Angus sliders on Hawaiian sweet bread, "Korean" rice bowls and tortilla pizzas. If you listen very closely, you can hear the then and the now and the there and here collide in a Prius-on-Plymouth pile-up.
The Verdict: At night, cover bands take the stage, but happy hour is the best time to stop by. During the week, or Friday after work, the scene is diverse, relaxed and convivial. On a recent visit, young construction workers, a suited guy lingering over a martini, ardent soccer fans and a crew of middle-aged ladies singing along to the jukebox all crowded around the bar in the center of the main room.
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The servers are friendly and reasonably efficient, interacting with customers who had better be regulars given their familiar rapport. The garlic-smothered Gilroy fries take the edge off those $5 well drinks, which will knock you into Sunday afternoon if you go too hard, which is ideal if you have a flight to catch. Cabs are abundant in Westchester. If you're in over your head, you have transportation options that aren't ill-advised. You could always jog to the airport too.
Overall Grade: A
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