burgers and beer!

October 19, 2011

Originally published in the Daily Trojan

Los Angeles overflows with delectable specialty taps

This time last year, the Daily Trojan wrote “Craft beer comes to City of Angels,” an article that cited a wave of gastropubs, alehouses, breweries and taverns that had sprouted up around the city.

In the 12 short months since, the number of beer-loving establishments has grown even larger and our former flavorful-brew no man’s land is overflowing with specialty taps. But how does one determine which places are worth the trek when anyone with the right distributor account can get a keg of Stone IPA? One difference lies in the food. And in Los Angeles, it’s all about the burger.

In honor of the third annual L.A. Beer Week, which ends Sunday, here’s a list of establishments that feature both of America’s beloved pastimes — burgers and beer. Some have been on the lips of foodies and beer geeks for a while. Others are farther off the radar. All are worth a try, especially if that Natty Light isn’t cutting it anymore.

Father’s Office
1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles

It’s fair to say Father’s Office invented the art of pairing burgers and beer. In fact, owner and head chef Sang Yoon’s gourmet, un-customizable burger has been credited with igniting a nationwide burger craze.

But these wood-paneled wonderlands are more than just their cooked-rare, dry-aged beef burger. As one of the first bars in Los Angeles to carry craft beer, F.O. more than lives up to its reputation for beer excellence. In addition to 26 taps — the number is doubled at its expanded second location in Culver City — that consistently rotate through rare local, national and international beers, there is an imposing bottle list full of brews, all of which contain as much flavor and craft as the spot’s famous burger.

Blue Palms Brewhouse
6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

The restaurant-and-bar space attached to the Henry Fonda Music Box in Hollywood wasn’t much to speak of until Brian Lenzo turned it into the Blue Palms Brewhouse more than three years ago.

That’s when the owner and craft-beer lover decided to serve his brews like wine by pairing flavors from an upscale pub menu to complement brews flowing from the 24 taps. Local breweries love Lenzo, too, so the draft selection is always top notch (think: Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculipin on cask), and kegs blow daily, so eating the $12 blue cheese and fois gras truffle burger is a new experience every time.

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles

Staring across the street at the much-loved Canter’s Deli on Fairfax is The Golden State, a small burger-and-beer joint that represents a new breed of L.A. cafe. In an attempt to showcase the best in California food and drink, this counter-service eatery serves up its mouth-watering, maple-glazed, bacon burger — simply called “The Burger” — alongside a small number of rotating seasonal local beers from breweries such as Craftsman and Firestone.

This isn’t a place to sit for hours and get tipsy with your friends, but it is a great place to have a unique-tasting beer with your gourmet casual grub.

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing
210 E. 3rd St., Long Beach

Easily accessible from campus via the Metro’s Blue Line, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Downtown Long Beach is definitely worth the day trip. This expanded version of Seal Beach’s original beer-geek mecca features 24 guest taps of unparalleled exclusivity and an on-site brewery that supplies 12 more handles with solid house beers.

Owner and head chef Gabe Gordon left fine dining to open Beachwood in 2006, and though his restaurant is better known for its barbecue ribs and pulled pork, the half-pound smoked brisket and sirloin burger is a perfect match for any of the restaurant’s diverse draft offerings.

Mohawk Bend
2141 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Mohawk Bend, in Echo Park, is the latest offshoot of entrepreneur Tony Yanow’s Burbank beer bar Tony’s Darts Away. For a new concept, Yanow converted an abandoned movie theater on Sunset Boulevard into a cavernous craft beer haven with three separate dining areas, two state-of-the art kitchens and 72 taps that exclusively host California beers, and pours cost no more than $6.

Though Mohawk’s seasonal vegan- and veggie-friendly menu has been drawing in the locals, it’s the over-the-top Dork Burger — made of duck, pork and Spanish chorizo — that somehow makes the excessive, home-state, draft love seem less gratuitous.

Congregation Ale House Chapters
201 E. Broadway Ave., Long Beach
619 N. Azusa Ave., Azusa
300 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

In a little more than a year, this Long Beach-based tap house has expanded its reign to include a location in Azusa and one forthcoming this November in Pasadena. But don’t let the monastery theme or the Catholic schoolgirl outfits fool you — this place is serious about its burgers and beer. At only $8, the standard rib-eye and white cheddar burger is the best burger deal around, and the half-domestic, half-international draft philosophy means there is always something interesting to help wash it down.

Catch the place during happy hour, appropriately called “Mass,” and the burger is only $6. And if you’re willing to read through the impressive 150-deep bottle selection, there are more interesting tastes hiding in the house’s fridges.

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