Best News-Hound Hangout Turned Buccaneer Bar
Yo Ho Ho, and a bottle of top-shelf, Xeres–casketed Bacardi 8. The downtown boom echoes with cannon fire at Second Street’s buccaneer-themed Redwood Bar and Grill, following its September opening in the space of the legendary Redwood House. This chamber of gorgeous walnut, redesigned by Fred 62 and 40 Deuce designer Fred Sutherland as an upscale maritime lounge, has been hijacked and turned into a dusky pirate’s hideout. The original 1943 haunt, shanghaied to Second Street in 1970, was rife with rascals and right hands, serving as caterer for hood Mickey Cohen’s jail stints, and as a second home for Times staffers. Even a visiting JFK and political pirate Dick Nixon (then a congressman) hoisted pints here. Surprisingly refined, the new Redwood embodies elegance, not overdoing its theme like Koreatown’s cheesy Crazy Hook. “Most people don’t go out to be gawked at like rock stars. They want great service and a good time with friends. We aim to provide just that,” says co-owner Christian Frizzell, a former Golden Gopher GM. The nightly bash endures into the witching hours, with a kitchen open until 4 a.m. for sobering bites off a menu supervised by Cobras and Matadors’ Jason Michaud.
Inside, a handsome cabin of swashbuckling details welcomes landlubbers into a rock & roll fantasy. The elaborate features would make even Disney designers jealous: A smoking patio resembles a fortified brig. Severed rum barrels serve as tabletops underneath a ship’s-wheel chandelier. White canvas sails obscure a massive private booth, while Jolly Rogers tastefully cover flat screens, ceiling tiles and a DJ setup. Seashells dot the ladies’ room, while cannons burst above 30 feet of wood bar, where candle holders are fashioned from skulls.
If anyone can make a mermaid painting classy, it’s the Redwood. There’s also more heavy metal in the Miami-imported chains, harpoons and hardware than even the Sunset Strip managed in ’87. Owner Dev Dugal points proudly to the “scarface booth,” which takes up an entire plush corner but shifts into a stage for local rockers. Inspired by rogues who typically died of scurvy or stabbings, the Redwood has a surprisingly healthy, generous spirit. Fresh-fruit cocktails are served with Belgian beers and upscale rum at average prices. The proprietors also offer a “Barhopper” to safely ferry drunkards through downtown. Plus, the doors will always be open cover-charge free, with returns from sporadic events promised to favorite nonprofits like public-benefit corporation Kiva.org.
Redwood Bar 316 W. Second St., L.A., (213) 617-2867