Since opening in 1983, The Gold Room has been doing the city a public service: order “the special” and you'll get a shot of tequila and a beer for four dollars. Order anything, and get free tacos. It's something of a perfect location for one stop shopping. You can drink yourself silly without spending much, trading barbs with your saucy, buxom bartender, then just when all that stomach alcohol starts begging for an edible sponge, you can simply ask for a plate of free tacos.

So why the free tacos? “It's just an old school thing,” said general manager Leonol Ledezma. “A lot of Latinos, on their lunch break, they get a beer. That's where it comes from. You get some food, get a beer. It's an old school tradition to have something behind the bar.”

The clientele has changed a bit over the years, precisely in the way that Echo Park has changed– there are a lot more white people. “I'm not gonna deny it,” said general manager Leonel Ledezma. “It helped the neighborhood, but we still cater to the working class Latino. The owner loves this place. He sees it as his house.”

In the past few months, the bar had a slight remodel, and a few people got worried that their old standby was going after big money. “Some liked it, some didn't,” said Ledezma. “We just cleaned it up a little bit. It was cool for a while, but we just wanted to be a little more comfortable for people.”

So no fourteen dollar martinis? “No, no fourteen dollar martinis. Same environment, same employees. I took over as general manager six months ago, but I grew up here. It's not going to change.” Now that's something we can all be thankful for.

The Gold Room, 1558 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, (213) 482-5259‎.

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