I’ve seen the best spots of this city destroyed by giant lines, overcrowding, and even worse: franchise. When your favorite dive bar suddenly has a line wrapped around the corner or your go-to breakfast spot’s menu changes to accommodate the influx of the hangry, you weep that silent, single tear, slowly whispering to the facade “You’ve changed.”
And, as the sad little tear rolls down your cheek, you look to the only thing that might help you find your new tried-and-true: Yelp. Will you ever find solace in a city so starved for the next-big-thing?
Yeah, you sure will. Shut down that Yelp search, homeboy. Here are the 5 Los Angeles spots you should hit up before they blow up.
Grilled breadcrumb-bellied velouté, garden-to-grill entrées, and carefully sourced cuts land Le Comptoir, and its 8-seater restaurant, a place in the Los Angeles hall of dining fame. Alongside the likes of Bestia and Trois Mec, this reservation-only (c’mon, they’ve only got 8 seats!) spot is LA’s newest addition currently being sought out by food freaks and gastro go-getters. It’s not as hard to get a reservation as some of the more prestigious culinary destinations, so I’d say it’s still fair game in the underworld. Go. Now.
There’s something kinda magical that happens when a beloved spot like Mountain Bar closes for a few years, and in its wake (and same space), a new place opens up shop. It’s almost like there was a curse bestowed upon its four walls, keeping everyone away from the new guy on the block.
Though, I’m not quite sure what keeps us away. It could be the haunts of a failed business or maybe devotion to what the space used to be. “It’ll always be Mountain Bar to me!”
Well, use those naysayers to your advantage at General Lee’s. Formerly Mountain Bar, this primo Chinatown bar called General Lee’s is killing it. It hasn’t yet blown up, but it’s gonna. When you book solid DJs nightly, serve up Chartreuse-splashed Tiki sippers, and have two-stories to roam (meaning: you and your crew can find a seat), you’re destined for bar success. Wait, what was that old place called again? Peak Lounge? Hill Pub? I can’t remember…
I’ll admit it: Church & State is my happy place. French butter, and so, so much of it. It’s also the perfect mélange of French bistro and candle-lit bourgie, plus amazing wines and brilliant cocktails. Well, the team responsible for creating my culinary fantasy world that is Church & State has a new spot: Spring. (how timely!) And it’s kinda impossible for this place to have already blown up, because it just opened…like last week.
What to expect: everything you would from Church & State, but kicked up a few notches, a little fancier, and further South (like, the South of France). The newest DTLA restaurant promises plates that look like paintings and market-seasonal ingredients. Dishes planned to hit the menu are as follows: Scottish salmon avec beets, rillettes as far as the eye can see, and classics like Escargot (of course). I’m actually making reservations as I type this…Excuse me.
Trystero Coffee Roasters
Passion is the thing that separates mediocrity from art, and if there was such a thing as being the Manet of coffee roasting, Greg Thomas of Trystero Coffee Roasters would surely be it. Why the Manet comparison? Well, Manet, the painter who pretty much invented Impressionism, didn’t follow rules (though, he knew every single rule—how d’ya think he broke ALL OF THEM?)
Greg, coffee roasting rule-breaker, operates out of his Atwater garage, and delivers his coffee via bicycle. He tried Blue Bottle Coffee (and loved it, admittedly), but thought to himself, “Yeah, I could do better than this.” What?!
Trystero Coffee Roasters is known to Los Angeles as the underdog of the coffee roasting world, and it’s no surprise that acclaimed chefs (like Gary Menes of Le Comptoir), brew-masters, and local favorite cafes snatch up his beans to serve to their customers. So, when you need a good cup o’ joe, knock three times on his aluminum-sided garage during operating hours. You’ll have to follow him on social to see when his shop’s open, which kind of helps in keeping Trystero on the hush-hush.
The first of a few businesses to thrive on the outskirts of DTLA, in the no-man’s-land of Westlake (I lived there—I should know!) is Monty Bar. For years, this bar’s been tucked away beside shady liquor stores and bargain furniture holes-in-the-wall, though it is slowly gaining some traction. The ever-popular Sado Maso Disco nights, Lethal Amounts (next door) celeb gallery shows, and great booking going on at the newly-opened Teragram Ballroom are bringing folks out to this renovated train station.
Now, I’m not saying the neighborhood is bad (I mean, it’s kinda slimy) but in years previous, one would reconsider meeting a friend at Monty Bar after dark. I won’t get too deep in the gentrification discussion, because that’s very, very far down the road for this tri-fecta of punk-ish locales on 7th street, but this place is actively blowing up. It hasn’t quite reached Red Giant status yet, however.
But all history aside, Monty Bar is a true favorite. The interior is massive, and much of its early century decor paints the space in a glammy, goth-like aesthetic. There’s taxidermy and they even have a forever-dead disco ball—though, the bartenders might send it spinning if you ask. So, grab yourself a craft cocktail (I recommend one of their Mezcal specials) and watch these fireworks (get it, because it’s blowing up?) before it’s too late.