• the york on york in highland park

    September 9th, 2008mr meanerLA restaurants

    I live in LA. A 40+ mile round trip involving a canyon road, three freeways and multiple surface streets in a very high crime area of town REALLY needs some justification. To make that journey pretty much every weekend must mean there’s something very special at the destination, and I’m pleased to announce that there is. The York on York in Highland Park.

    Anybody who has ever travelled out of LA and is into a bar scene will recall those large, open industrial bars with lots of beers on tap, a full cocktail compliment, friendly staff (who actually act like they are pleased to serve you) and extensive menu. Sadly, LA is NOT a bar town by any means so I’m set to drive the equivalent of half way to San Diego every weekend to enjoy a few drinks at what I can confidently call the best bar in LA.

    The York on York, bathed in afternoon sun

    The York on York, bathed in afternoon sunlight and cask ale....

    Seriously, the York is an amazing place. It really does remind me of large brew houses in Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area etc. Although the York doesn’t actually brew anything, it seems to be in bed with some leading local breweries (Craftsman in particular) and has the very best of their products available.

    In some ways, a well stocked bar can be better than a brew-pub as they can change out the beers at will, and not have to serve a bad batch of their own product from time to time. The beer list rotates slowly, so there’s usually something new to try. The bar seating area is HUGE, and there are booths at the back if you want to sit down and dine while you drink.

    The Bar: well stocked, and even a beer engine for cask ale!

    The Bar: well stocked, and even a beer engine for cask ale!

    For me, The York is one of the very few places in LA that serve cask conditioned ale – something that reminds me of my native UK and is an increasingly welcome addition states-side. The stronger, slightly warmer and less gassy beer is just how we Europeans like it. America: stop drinking Budweiser!

    Tasty Craftsman brews: 1903 and Cask Ale

    Tasty Craftsman brews: Cask Ale and 1903 lager

    Now, around the same time I discovered The York, a new bar opened in Hollywood at the Henry Fonda Theater. Some bright spark took the ageing Blue Palms Lounge and converted it awkwardly into the Blue Palms Brewhouse. Although I’ll be writing about this bar soon, suffice to say I’ve only had a 50% success rate in getting into the place when I’ve showed up. First, the opening hours were posted incorrectly on their website, and second the new owner had some kind of smug party where we felt as welcome as bacon butties at a bar mitzvah – so we left immediately.

    The sign. So classy. Looks like it used to be a Denny's!

    The sign. So classy. Looks like it used to be a Denny's!

    Enough of that… there are several things I like about The York, principally:

    • AWESOME Beer selection
    • CASK ALE!
    • Easy street parking, often right outside
    • Always somewhere to sit during the day (although I hear the place goes nuts in the late evening, especially when a DJ plays)
    • CASK ALE!
    • Very friendly and knowledgeable staff – they remember my order! That’s very rare in LA.
    • Light and airy, music isn’t too loud and is usually pretty cool
    • Clientele are pleasant (meaning probably educated, clean and smiley)
    • CASK ALE!

    There’s really nothing to hate, other than its out of the way location for most Los Angelinos. I’ll probably try and go there every week, even though the Blue Palms has similar beer offerings and is right on my doorstep.

    Oh, and the only vegan option other than a green salad on the menu is french fries and some olive thing that doesn’t sound to appetizing. Don’t worry about that, though as Cinnamon is only a few blocks away — possibly even walkable with a buzz 🙂

    The York on York. It SO WOULD have a scooter outside!

    The York on York. It SO WOULD have a scooter outside!

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