If the sign trumpeting “Cold Beer and Ham Sandwiches” is not enough to win hearts, the charmingly mistranslated songs (e.g., the John Denver classic “Libyan on a Jet Plane”) at Melody Lounge should be. The stripped-down decor and bare-bones booze selection (only bottled beers) might deter the less adventurous, but it would be a mistake to miss this unassuming joint's real draw: the adorable older couple who run the place. If you're lucky, in between other patrons' turns at the mic, you'll get to hear them duet and be regaled with tales of the owner's days playing with Carlos Santana. 939 N. Hill St., dwntwn. (213) 625-2823.

—Tessa Stuart

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