McTaggart @ MONA: Hot jazz/Cool neon ***** Cole’s & the Varnish: Dipped sandwiches/ dry martinis

Original, recently restored, neon sign for Cole's French Dipped Sandwiches and Cocktails (Photo by TrujilloPaumier)
The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) is one of the most unusual alternative concert spaces in Los Angeles.  The retro signs and vintage neon make it a trippy milieu even sans sound but add music and a strange alchemy often occurs; the music  affects the “noble gases” in the luminous tubes so you don’t just hear the music, you see it flicker and dance. 

The joint (and the neon) will undoubtedly be jumping on April 2nd when Michael McTaggart, recently featured in USC’s “Visions and Voices” concert, brings his  original compositions, incorporating  jazz/samba/hip hop/swing, to MONA’s First Friday Music Night.   $10 at the door not only admits you to the concert but to the Museum of Neon Art, which is running three different exhibitions including:  LIGHT GEIST, a seven-person group show;  LIGHT SPEED, featuring the winners of MONA’s April Online Photo Competition juried by Los Angeles Times photographer Mel Melcon; and SO CAL EATS, photos from Southern California Eats, John Eng and Adriene Biondo’s book of eclectic L.A. and beyond eateries. 

If the diner  photos and Brown Derby sign make you yearn for L.A.’s  gustatory glory days, stroll down Main Street to Cole’s, whose gorgeous, original neon sign was found and refurbished during the recent, $1.6 million restoration of Los Angeles’s oldest public house.  Inside, belly up to the also-original, 40-foot-long mahogany bar for just-like-Dad-drank cocktails (think Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds) or sink into the welcoming booths for hand-carved-to-order beef, pork, lamb and turkey au jus sandwiches (Cole’s and Phillippe’s both lay claim to inventing the French dip….)  with consulting chef  Neal Fraser’s updated sides ‘n sweets. (Atomic Pickle, anyone?) 

Just craving a cocktail?  Slip into the Varnish, the (usually packed) back room speakeasy at Cole’s where the dizzyingly different drink recipes come from back-in-the-day bar tomes and the bartenders, headed by master mixologist Eric Alperin, are the hardest-working crew in town. 

Michael McTaggart @ Museum of Neon Art 

Friday, April 2; Doors open at 8:00PM 


136 West 4th Street 

Los Angeles 90013 



Cole’s/the Varnish 

118 East 6th Street (6th & Main) 

Los Angeles 90014 

Cole’s – 213.622.4090 

the Varnish – 213.622.9999

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

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