The Place: The Lab Gastropub, 3500 S. Figueroa Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90007; (213) 743-1843.
The Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; Noon-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
The Digs: The Lab is a college bar unlike any we have encountered. Apparently, there's a "science" theme at this USC-operated establishment, but when we arrived for some late afternoon beers last week, we saw no beakers of lager, equation-covered coasters, or molecules decorating the walls. This is not to say they were not there. We interpreted the vibe as modern and industrial, a clean study in white tile and grey, which probably says more about what we studied in college than the bar's subtle trappings. We do know that our beer (most likely some off-brand repackaged as "Trojan Blonde") came in a normal pint glass and that the solid $3 guacamole arrived, not in a pulsing, radioactive nimbus, but with a few handfuls of blue corn chips.
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The Verdict: We haven't been to many college bars since finishing school, and we're usually fairly prejudiced against them, especially those infested with younger versions of ourself. The Lab was mellow enough--us, several graduate students, two moms and a few kids still a good decade away from the SATs. In the evenings, we imagine The Lab could morph into a pre-2 a.m. pick-up joint as treacherous as the gym at cross-town rival UCLA where, while purchasing a bottle of Gatorade, we recently overheard our new favorite line:
A guy chugging a protein shake turns to the girl behind the register reading a textbook with the title "Modern Art." "Hey," he says, wiping his mouth. "What kind of art do you like?"
Remember that one, kids. One complaint about the Lab is that prices aren't low. This may have something to do with the fact that USC runs the joint and students can use their "dining dollars" to get drunk and splurge on $12 burgers.
Overall Grade: B