La Descarga-Los Angeles

La Descarga-Los Angeles

What: La Descarga

Where: Los Angeles

For: Ages 21+

La Descarga is an exclusive speakeasy in Los Angeles.  Ethan took me here last month, and I’ve heard so many great things about the club that I was super excited to go and check it out.  The club itself exceeded expectations, and it renewed my love for hidden bars and speakeasies in Los Angeles.

Getting In

Guests need reservations to enter the club, and they can be made either on the website or by calling directly.  I suggest that you call at least a week prior to ensure that the club is not at capacity.  There is a small neon sign advertising the lounge.  The entry door sits behind a taco stand and has a single security guard checking for ID and reservations.  After your reservation is confirmed, patrons are led up a stairway to a hostess.  She sits at a simple desk and will welcome you to the lounge.

After your welcome, the hostess opens a closet on the side of the room and pushes aside the coats and dresses on hangars.  This reveals a red velvet curtain.  When the curtain is pushed aside, it leads into the top part of the lounge.  A short hallway and staircase leads guests to the main floor of the bar.  The entire presentation of the entry into La Descarga was exciting and like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

The Club

The main bar has reserved seating areas and standing room only.  They are known for their specialty cocktails.  There is a smoking room in the back that has a bar that serves standard cocktails.  Bar seating in the back room is on a first-come first-served basis.  Tables are by reservation only, but guests can sit at the table until the party that reserved comes to claim them.  Cigars and cigarettes are allowed in the room since there is ventilation to the outdoors via the roof.

The shows are scheduled hourly and last about fifteen minutes.  When we were there, there was a burlesque show and live band.  The saxophone player came down the steps and played in the crowd, which was unique.  He also coordinated the show with the dancer.  This was one of the best burlesque shows that I’ve seen at a speakeasy.  We ended up spending about 3.5 hours here, and we could’ve spent the entire night here if we didn’t get hungry and decide to leave!  If you have a bigger party, I strongly suggest that you call as early as possible to reserve a table and ensure your party can stay together in the main bar area.

The Crowd

La Descarga is an upscale club with a dress code.  The entire dress code can be viewed online, and security reserves the right to turn guests away at the door if they do not comply with the rules.  Men wore jackets, and all women were in cocktail dresses and heels.  Around showtime, the main floor became shoulder-to-shoulder crowded.  I suggest that you make your way to the main room at least twenty minutes to half-an-hour in advance of showtimes to ensure you have standing room to enjoy the show.

Cost

We ended up spending about $15 per drink, which seemed very reasonable for Los Angeles.  I tried two different specialty cocktails, and both of them tasted amazing.

La Descarga Information

1159 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029

(323) 466-1324

ladescargala.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to La Descarga, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

The Lighthouse Cafe-South Bay

The Lighthouse Cafe-South Bay

What: The Lighthouse Cafe

LLL d 13 _2644.NEF

Where: South Bay

For: Ages 21+

The Lighthouse Café is Ethan and my go-to place if we want to eat and enjoy a live band.  Another plus is that it was one of the sets for the movie La La Land.  The vibe is always vibrant when you walk into the café.  The security, hostesses and servers are personable and nice.  It’s a great place to go when you want to have a casual night in the South Bay.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is open until 1:00am every night of the week, which makes this bar the place to go if you want a late-night meal.  The café is open for special events as well (please check the website).  Unfortunately, the aesthetics of the food that comes out is definitely lacking and makes the trays look very sad.  That being said, the food is actually pretty good, and it’s a great environment to eat some American food in.

La La Land

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone filmed many scenes over four days at The Lighthouse Café.   If you go outside, you can witness an iconic scene with the two characters standing next to each other in front of a neon sign advertising the Café.  I loved that the movie included jazz and the special lighthouse stained glass in the background.  An interesting thing is that the Lighthouse still has one of the clocks from the movie in the restaurant that (apparently) the director has been trying to get back. Another interesting tidbit is that the Hermosa Beach chamber teamed up with Hollywood two years ago to transform the Hermosa Beach Pier into a La La Land-themed pier.  They played jazz music and allowed guests to take Instagram-worty pictures on the pier.

The Bar

The Lighthouse Café is the best place to go if you’re interested in listening to Jazz in Hermosa Beach. Security checks ID after 9:30pm and gives you a stamp for in-and-out privileges.  There is sometimes a cover charge of $5 to $10 per guest depending on which live band is playing that night.  There is a small dance floor in the middle of the tables.  Tables and booths for dining line the outside area of the bar and there are many spaces to sit at the bar tables if you’re interested in getting up close and personal with the bartenders.

The Crowd

The age range for the guests varies.  Many times, groups meet here to celebrate birthdays.  A great thing is that the bands generally come into the crowd during breaks and dance with the patrons.

Cost

The Lighthouse Café is very affordable.  Drinks range from $6-$15 each.  Happy hour is available daily (please check the website for more information).  Dinner rang in at about $12 to $16 per plate, which is a steal in Hermosa Beach.  We will continually come back to The Lighthouse Café for dinner, drinks and dancing.

The Lighthouse Cafe Information

30 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

(310) 376-9833

thelighthousecafe.net

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to The Lighthouse Cafe, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Boulevard3-Hollywood

Boulevard3-Hollywood

What: Boulevard3-Hollywood

Main Ballroom

Where: Hollywood

For: Ages 21+

When Ethan and I went to Hollywood for our staycation, we decided to end our night dancing at Boulevard3.  A random note about the club is that Ethan and I have been binge watching Shameless on Netflix, and Fiona’s nightclub in Season 2 is filmed at Boulevard3!

The Club

Boulevard3 was built on the site of the former Hollywood Athletic Club.  When you walk into the outdoor space after paying your entrance fee, you are greeted with posh décor and modern furniture.  There is a bar outside with seating Garden Cabanas that offer bottle service.  A large fireplace is in the center of the outdoor Promenade.  A large pool spans the length of the garden cabanas. When you enter the building, there is another fireplace with a large seating area to take a rest from all the dancing.

Garden Cabana

 In the Ballroom, everything is white and backlit in neon colors, which makes the club seem classy and clean.  There is a huge LED lighting system inside that backs the main bar and is coordinated with the music.  The DJ booth is opposite of the main bar, and table service booths are offered on the dance floor, Mezzanine level and on the second floor Balcony level.  A Library Bar is available for rental and private parties.  Check Boulevard3’s website for information on performances by famous DJs and other shows.  Music is an eclectic mix of hip hop, top 40 and house.

Mezzanine

The Crowd

The club is only open on Friday and Saturdays.  Depending on the day, time and event, there can be fairly long lines. The website lists the dress code as “upscale trendy”, and when we went we saw that almost everyone was in nice cocktail attire.  One weird thing about the bartenders were that they were drinking with the patrons which made them very distracted.  We waited for a while for our drinks to be made and our tab to be closed out.  One time, we were looking for our bartender and found that he was dancing on top of the bar spitting alcohol onto napkins he lit on fire (hence creating “fire balls”).  I thought it was not very professional for the amount of money that we were paying to be in the club.

Balcony

Cost

We paid a $20 cover charge per person and drinks were about $15 each.  Shots cost $25 for two people.  If you decide to pay the premium for bottle service, then the cover charge is waived.

Library Bar

Boulevard3 Information

6523 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 466-2144

boulevard3.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Boulevard3, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Crane’s Downtown Bar-DTLA

Crane’s Bar Downtown-DTLA

What: Crane’s Bar Downtown

Where: Downtown Los Angeles

For: Ages 21+

One of our stops on this weekends’ staycation was Crane’s Downtown Bar. If you are looking to get away from the overpriced drinks and flashy Los Angeles starlets, this is the place for you.

Walk through a bank vault to enter the bar.

The Bar

Crane’s Bar Downtown is in the basement of a high-rise business building.  There is a small neon sign outside that points you towards two flights of stairs towards a bank vault.  There is a bouncer that checks your ID prior to letting you into the dimly lit bar.  There are seating areas to your right when you walk in, and there are booths on your left.  Bar stools line the bar that has shelves of hard liquor back lit by neon lights.  A DJ and small dance floor are on the far side of the bar.  We could see a small private room in the back.  The music was great, and we would have probably stayed longer if we weren’t dressed up in fancy attire.  Since we like dive bars, we’ll keep this bar in the back of our mind for when we come to Los Angeles for a more casual night out.

The Drinks

If you want the best bang for your buck then this is the place for you.  For one Tito’s and Red Bull it was $11…and it was mostly Tito’s with just a splash of Red Bull.  For the value and strength of the drinks, we ended up staying for two rounds.  We also enjoyed the friendliness of the bartender and the great music that the DJ was playing.  Apparently this is the place to be for Happy Hour as well…check out the menu below!

The Crowd

Since we were dressed for a night out on the town, we felt too overdressed for Crane’s.  There were a few regulars on the bar stools and quite a few people came in and out during our stay.  The novelty of the bar being in an old bank vault was originally what drew us there, so we probably won’t be back unless we were planning to start our night here or have a casual night out.

Cost

As I said before, strong drinks were only $11.  Different beers were offered on tap for $6, and a menu was written in chalk on peg boards nailed to the wall that can be updated periodically.

Crane’s Downtown Bar Information

810 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(323) 787-7966

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Crane’s Downtown Bar, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com

Clifton’s Republic-DTLA

Clifton’s Republic-DTLA

What: Clifton’s Republic

Where: Downtown Los Angeles

For: All Ages During the Day/21+ at Night

We first heard of Clifton’s republic on a Buzzfeed sponsored show called Worth It!  The show was comparing low-, mid-, and high-range price points on cocktails (Clifton’s was in the mid-price range).  As a self-proclaimed cocktail aficionado, I had to come to Clifton’s and try it out.  During one of our monthly staycations (an overnight trip that we take once a month to a different local city), we ended up staying at the Westin Bonaventure which just so happened to be right down the street from Clifton’s.

After a trying out a couple other local lounges, we decided to uber on over to Clifton’s…only to find that the line was literally around the block (this was a Saturday night around 11:00pm).  We ended up choosing to go to a local nightclub and came back to Clifton’s on Sunday for brunch…which turned into one of the best decisions that we made.

The Marketplace

When you walk into Clifton’s, you’re greeted with a host desk and display cabinets that contain a variety of weird odds-and-ends.  You can make a left and go down a long hallway peppered with prehistoric fossils, wood crafts, and geodes.  The hall leads to the world’s largest public cafeteria that serves seasonal food.  The great thing about this is that not only is everything extremely aesthetically pleasing, but it is served in portion control-sizes.  We went on Easter weekend, which meant that all of the desserts were Easter themed.  They have pre-made food, omelet station, desserts, and all the jello your heart desires.

After you gather your food on your tray, you can check out and sit down at one of the open tables on the first or second floor.  I noticed that some tables said reserved, where I was informed that large parties should call a few days ahead or put in a reservation request on their website.

The Bars

There are so many things to look at in Clifton’s that it can be overwhelming at first.  Aside from the ginormous tree in the center of the lower level bar that extends to the ceiling and holds beautiful lighting fixtures, there is also a full-sized stuffed bison, lion, deer and other animals scattered throughout the three stories of this bar…and speaking of three stories…

Stuffed Deer in the Monarch Bar.

The street-level bar is called the Monarch Bar, and this is identifiable by the huge tree that sits in the center…a tribute to California’s Golden Age.  There is ample seating around the bar, and live entertainment is offered for patrons during brunch and dinner times.  At night, it transforms into a great scene with performances periodically throughout the night.  We were able to watch some burlesque dancers while sitting in an area comprised of upcycled tree stumps.

Ethan, me and our friends by the huge tree in the middle of Monarch Bar.

Gothic Bar is one level up, and it has grandiose arches that mirror an old cathedral.  The lighting and bar area are dark, and it seems to be one of the more popular areas for patrons to visit for night drinking. 

The Brookdale is across from Gothic Bar on the second level.  It has a small area to serve alcohol combined with a dance floor and tables and chairs.  Some nights, there are 20’s style dance classes being taught.  It’s great to see everyone dress up in clothing from the decade.  Later in the night, it transforms into a club-like atmosphere.

Behind a large mirror on the second level is a secret stairway that leads up to the secret Pacific Seas.  Pacific Seas is my favorite place in Clifton’s, as it is Hawaiian themed and showcases hula dancers throughout the night…and did I mention that there’s an entire boat in the middle of the bar that doubles as a DJ station?!  It feels very special to be escorted behind the secret mirror/doorway and up the stairs into the tiki bar.  The first time we went, we sat next to a celebrity and were pretty star-struck, so that  itself was worth it.

Ethan and I drinking the Scorpion Bowl at the Pacific Seas.

Finally, Shadow Bar should be opening sometime this year.  It will be located in the basement of Clifton’s Republic, and all whispers point to something that we’ve never seen before.  I’ll update this review when/if I get a chance to check it out.

The Crowd

If you want to go to The Pacific Seas I suggest making reservations on Clifton’s website or leaving a voicemail at least a week before.  If you walk up, try to come early.  When we come at nights, we generally arrive at 9:45pm and the line is about 30 minutes to 1 hour.  If you are trying to walk up to The Pacific Seas without reservations, then you will have to put your name on another list once you get inside Clifton’s, which could already be a 2-3 hour wait.

There is a dress code that is listed on Clifton’s website.  Make sure that you abide by it to ensure you don’t spend a long amount of time waiting only to be turned away at the door.

The great thing is that you can infer which bar each person is going to based on their dress.  Hawaiian shirts and dresses?  Tiki Bar.  20’s period pieces? The Brookdale.  21-year-olds ready to get their groove on?  Probably Gothic Bar.  As the evening presses on, each of the bars becomes more and more crowded.  Each time we have been there, it has been an enjoyable experience.

Cost

Generally, it looks as if you would spend $20-$30/person for brunch (add more if you include beverages).  Drinks are an average of $15 at the bars.  The infamous scorpion drink at Tiki Bar is $40 (but you definitely get $40 of alcohol).  We spent around $130 on a night out for two (just drinks, not eating).  We spend 3-5 hours at Clifton’s Republic each time we go.  Also make sure to check their website for their hours of operation.

Clifton’s Republic Information

648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(213) 627-1673

cliftonsla.com

Thanks for reading! If you’ve ever been to Clifton’s Republic, please comment on this post!  Also, if you have suggestions of other places to go in the Greater Los Angeles Area, please let me know by e-mailing admin@la-staycation.com