We’re not gonna bullshit ya. Hop Louie is not a destination for great Chinese food, especially in a city that actually does have great Chinese food. But Hop Louie is an experience, a trip, a cultural artifact. And in the right state of mind, it’s just plain fun. In the middle of Chinatown since 1941, Hop Louie has atmosphere to spare: a black lacquered-wood bar and formidable hanging-lantern lighting fixtures; a wall of signed celebrity headshots and a cast of eccentric regulars; a bartender whose encyclopedic mixology skills blend with an acidic wit and a comically imposing, multitiered pagoda structure over the entrance, Hop Louie is what you want in a comfortable, old-school, kitschy/loungey Chinese restaurant. Drinks are cheap and strong; the food — of the crab rangoon/egg roll/fried rice variety — is decent; classic pop oldies fill the jukebox. Not only that, but it’s got two floors, which means even more Hop Louie. 950 Mei Ling Way, Chinatown. (213) 628-4244. —Adam Gropman
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