Mariachi Plaza station on the Gold Line
Mariachi Plaza station on the Gold Line
Tim Adams/Flickr Creative Commons

Check Out Our Metro Gold Line Bar Crawl

Recently Thrillist published a Metro rail bar map. This heroic effort identifies a watering hole within a 10-minute walk of each station in the entire Metro rail system, minus a few that, tragically, lack any booze within walking distance.

We’re big fans of public transportation and efficient drinking, so we decided to put Thrillist’s map to the test, starting with a bar crawl that would follow the core of the Gold Line, from Old Town Pasadena all the way to Boyle Heights.

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With TAP cards in hand, we set out to hit as many drinkeries as we could before the last train home. At first, we planned to stick to Thrillist’s recommendations – but it quickly became apparent that their map fell short in a few key areas, especially proximity to the Metro.

The whole point of a Metro line bar crawl is to do as little crawling as possible, is it not? So we’ve suggested a few alternatives to Thrillist’s picks along the way. Next stop: Drunkytown!

See also: Public Transpo Is Getting Good in L.A. and I'm Proud

The Blind Donkey
The Blind Donkey
Andy Hermann

Metro station: Memorial Park
Thrillist’s pick: The 35er
Our pick: The Blind Donkey
Minutes from Metro: 6
What to Get: Southern Tartan (Bulleit rye, Peychaud's bitters, lemon rind, Ardbeg 10 rinse)

Two blocks before you get to Thrillist’s pick, you’ll pass a cozy neighborhood watering hole with a shuffleboard table and whiskey flights. Are you really going to keep walking? We think not. Shuffleboard aside, the Blind Donkey is one of those hole-in-the-walls that keeps the emphasis where it should be: on the booze.

With dozens of American, Irish and Scotch whiskeys to choose from and a rotating selection of 10 craft beers on tap, you’ll be tempted to stay for a second round. But remember, this is a bar crawl, people. We’ve got a schedule to keep.

The Otis Bar
The Otis Bar
Andy Hermann

Metro station: Del Mar
Thrillist’s pick: none
Our pick: The Otis Bar
Minutes from Metro: Zero
What to Get: Samuel Clemens (Buffalo Trace bourbon, spiced mulled wine, fresh lemon, apple juice)

You kinda blew this one, Thrillist. Not only is the Otis Bar one of the best drinking establishments in Pasadena, it’s literally located inside the Del Mar Metro station. As bar crawl destinations go, it’s definitely at the classier end of the spectrum. You’ll see lots of well-dressed professionals sipping wine and chatting with bartenders dressed like Boardwalk Empire extras.

For those grueling 20 paces back to the Metro platform, fortify yourself with something off the full menu from the bar’s sister restaurant, La Grande Orange Café. We recommend the bacon-topped deviled eggs.

La Cuevita
La Cuevita
Arturo Sotillo/Flickr Creative Commons

Metro station: Highland Park
Thrillist’s pick: The Greyhound
Our pick: La Cuevita
Minutes from Metro: 6
What to Get: La Cuevita (Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal, St. Germain, fresh lime, ginger beer)

We can respect Thrillist's pick here: The Greyhound is a great recent addition to Highland Park’s rapidly expanding roster of watering holes, with tasty bar food and a lively, East Coast-style atmosphere.

But we must give props to HLP’s original neighborhood hang, the aptly named Little Cave.

They classed up the joint a little when they rebranded it La Cuevita, with an expanded menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails, but the place retains its dive-bar roots with dim lighting, unfinished brick and wood-plank walls, and a heavily tatted, friendly staff.

Andy Hermann

Metro station: Lincoln/Cypress
Thrillist’s pick: Footsie’s
Our pick: Footsie’s
Minutes from Metro: 9
What to Get: $3 PBR (if it’s happy hour), $4 PBR (if it’s not)

We’re 100% in agreement with Thrillist this time, and not just because Footsie’s is literally pretty much the only bar within a mile of the randomly located Lincoln/Cypress station. It’s also one of the best dive bars in the city, with a good beer selection, a pool table, solid DJs, plenty of room for dancing and an eclectic crowd. In truth, it's a people-watching bonanza, from hairy dudes in full biker leathers to stylishly dressed hipster waifs drifting in from Los Feliz and Silver Lake for their version of a walk on the wild side.

Hop Louie
Andy Hermann

Metro station: Chinatown
Thrillist’s pick: Grand Star Jazz Club
Our pick: Hop Louie
Minutes from Metro: 8
What to Get: Tsingtao

Grand Star has a cover most weekends, and we’d rather save that money for beer – especially if it’s Goth Night. (We aren’t wearing enough eyeliner.)

So instead, we’ headed to the cheaper, less pretentious Hop Louie, where surly bartenders preside over a dimly lit room that looks like it hasn’t been redecorated since Jack Nicholson slapped Faye Dunaway. If the restaurant’s still open, order some egg rolls or pot stickers to soak up all that booze. But it probably won’t be, so say “The hell with it” and get a round of fireball shots instead. Maybe you can do a little projectile redecorating of your own.

Far Bar
Far Bar
Courtesy of Far Bar Facebook page

Metro station: Little Tokyo
Thrillist’s pick: One Eyed Gypsy
Our pick: Far Bar
Minutes from Metro: 4
What to Get: Bird Flu (Fighting Cock bourbon, muddled ginger, brown sugar, Benedictine and Love bitters)

There’s just one small problem with Thrillist's pick: It’s been closed since April. Fortunately, Far Bar is still open for business. Hidden down a narrow alley strung with Christmas lights next to its sister restaurant, the Far Café, Far Bar feels, even at its busiest, like a quiet respite from the bustling nightlife of Little Tokyo. And if you’ve really been following our whole crawl up to this point, your aching head could probably use a quiet respite. Bonus: Show your Metro pass and you get 10% off your whole tab. See, your head’s feeling better already.

Las Palomas, which we were too drunk to photograph at the time
Las Palomas, which we were too drunk to photograph at the time
Google Street View

Metro station: Mariachi Plaza
Thrillist’s pick: Eastside Luv
Our pick: Las Palomas
Minutes from Metro: 2
What to Get: Cold cerveza, por favor

Thrillist’s pick, Eastside Luv, is normally worth a visit, but not when you’re staggering through the home stretch of a liver-testing bar crawl. There’s a dress code, and sometimes a cover, and you’re down to your last five bucks and wearing sensible shoes.

Instead, head right next door to the post-apocalyptic rec room that is Las Palomas, a true dive bar where the beer comes out of convenience-store coolers and the deafening ranchero music comes out of a jukebox the size of a spaceship. It’s the pot of rainbows at the end of the Gold Line. Actually, there are five more stops on the Gold Line, but it's late and the last train leaves Union Station at 2:12 a.m. (or 12:12 Sunday through Thursday). Time to go home.

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