Arroyo Seco, the watershed that spawned Los Angeles, means “dry streambed” but there’s no shortage of great bars in the neighborhoods north of the arroyo-adjacent Pasadena Freeway. Those looking for a great gastropub, live music, or a flame-spouting bartender can find all three at these Northeast Los Angeles bars.
Here are the last of the eight top picks, arranged by neighborhood for maximum pub-crawling ease.
Eight Great Bars of the Arroyo Seco/Part 3
Highland Park/York Boulevard
This former speakeasy retains its Prohibition-era mystique thanks to black and white tiles, pressed tin ceiling, and legal-again absinthe; a fountain on the bar drips ice water over sugar cubes to turn the pale green liquor milky white. While small, Johnny’s diversions include a pool table, a foosball table, two screens playing offbeat movies, and a Fifties and Sixties-heavy juke box. Safe, plentiful, street parking. (5006 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90042 323.551.6959)
If Johnny’s is jammed, walk a couple doors down to The York; a central bar, high ceilings and exposed brick walls make this gastropub roomy and welcoming. The front windows open to the street for prime people watching while sipping a signature drink; try the tangy, Margarita-like Paloma. There’s a nice range of single malts and a comprehensive beer selection; the small but good wine list complements bistro fare like the truffle-grilled cheese sandwich with tomato salad. A large screen plays subtitled movies. There’s safe, street parking as well as a public lot in back, accessed by a passageway between Best Hardware and a nameless auto parts store. (The lot also works if you’re drinking at Johnny’s, above) (5018 York Blvd, Los Angeles, 90042 www.theyorkonyork.com 323.255.9675)
Dark salmon walls, gold Buddhas, and comfy seating create a richly tactile room in which to sample the meat-heavy menu (Try the Kobe burger with garlic aioli), elaborate martinis, and the “Vintage Tattoo” (3 shots of Corzo Silver Premium Tequila for $30) served by efficient, pretty bartenders. The mostly contemporary juke box keeps the intimate room loud and lively; long bar tables and a reserve-able lounge area maximize space for easy drink-stashing by the stylish crowd. An outside smoking lounge is its own destination come summer. There’s a valet but safe parking is easily available. (5137 York Blvd, Los Angeles, 90042 323.256.2400)
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