In recent years, the economic and wartime climate were partly responsible for making folks hungry for classic American comfort food. Of course, hip culinary cities like LA love to dress things up. Call it a delicious compromise--comfort food with some haute-cuisine accents. The Gastropub phenomenon took off in LA and has continued to thrive, now as a mainstay.
Who doesn’t love a top name chef who can fashion brisket into a dish that could be a hit even with discriminating foodies? From truly classical to derivative and delectable, LA serves up Gastropub food with that magic mix of attributes: culinary and comforting.
In December 2013, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar—an uber-cool gastropub with a pre-existing Sawtelle location--opened a second branch on Fairfax, near Beverly. Serving up comfort food at culinarily high standards, in an unpretentious contemporary loft setting, the East Side eatery/bar is also known for its restaurant-wide cocktails, as well as site-specific infusions crafted by its own in-house mixologist.
351 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
You know Gastropubs are trendy when one crops up on the Sunset Strip. This fairly new restaurant homage to culinary Americana is headed by Chef Dan Murray (of Viceroy and Jiraffe fame). The menu changes monthly but you can expect high-end versions of casual fare like the shrimp Po’ Boy sliders with pickled red onion and cajun remoulade; a vegetable pot pie with carrot, potato, greens, mushrooms and veloute; and elegant and mom n’ pop deserts like the butternut squash cheesecake. And if you happen to get those comfort food cravings late at night, they’re open until 1:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
8226 W. Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
This ever-popular Culver City Gastropub may well be one of the early pioneers of the trend. Chef Ben Ford (son of Harrison), formerly of Chadwick Beverly Hills, serves up rich, comforting dishes with local ingredients. The food is creative but be warned: it can be extremely filling (as the name "Filling Station" implies) and a little goes a long way. The menu includes dishes like a pulled pork sandwich with melted smoked gouda and spicy pepper relish; Ipswich clam roll with Meyer lemon tartar sauce; and the saucily named Cheeks n’ Biscuits with slow cooked pork cheeks, homemade biscuits, cavalo nero and sherry jus.
9531 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Though not technically a restaurant--but rather a restaurant on wheels--the Gastrobus still falls into the culinary category of Gastropub fare. Its founder, who used to run one of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, proudly serves up sandwiches (for a mere $6 a piece) that can make Angelinos proud to be American. The offerings include a pulled pork sandwich with pickled red onion and garlic aioli, and a skirt steak sandwich with onion, tomato and chimichurri. And of course let’s not forget the special sweet potato fries with honey mustard. For details on their next stop be sure to check their website.
This restaurant bills itself as “your new neighborhood watering hole.” But this is LA so you can still expect great date lighting and a caj-hip atmosphere. The menu stays on traditional track not veering too much from the classics. Expect everything from wood-grilled center-cut pork chop with warm apple compote and mashed potatoes to their $10 Hudson Burger with caramelized onion and blue cheese. Happy Hour (from 4 to 7 p.m. daily) is worth checking out for some fun apps like their four-cheese macaroni with slow roasted jalapenos ($4.50), and their hand cut fries dusted with Pecorino cheese and fresh garlic ($3). Wines are $6 a glass and well drinks $4.
1114 N. Crescent Heights Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
You might just learn a thing or two about Gastropub cuisine at The Lab...no, literally. The modern restaurant, under the helm of associate executive Chef Thomas Moran, is brought to LA’s Figueroa restaurant row by the University of Southern California Hospitality. The design concept is science lab-meets-Gastropub, so don those reading glasses and bring your lab notes. Students, faculty and locals are all welcome to partake of eats like elbow macaroni with three cheeses and sweet peas, braised lamb shank with organic vegetables, and little bites like artichoke fritters with chipotle dip. No university-adjacent destination would be complete without a diverse selection of over 40 beers.
3500 Figueroa Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
All hale Warren Schwartz, the laidback culinary genius that fashioned the delectable items on this popular Westside (as the name states) restaurant. Their halibut ceviche and jar of chicken liver mousse with green apple chutney changed my life. Other greatest hits include the market vegetable lasagne with fresh sheet pasta; roasted vegetables and Gioia Ricotta; and the roasted California lamb chops with Farro, eggplant, tomatoes and cucumber-mint yogurt. This is, after all being billed as California tavern cuisine. Westside Tavern delivers this and more. Be warned that the place gets crowded. If you can, make reservations in advance.
10850 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064