Your 2010-11 Los Angeles Nightlife Roundup

Last year, it felt like everyone in Los Angeles finally realized the dream of opening their own bar. But nightlife being the fickle beast that it is, not all of them will last. The bars that made the most noise in 2010 will likely survive to see 2012 and beyond, but they’re not necessarily the best of the bunch. Brent Bolthouse and Guy Starkman’s Trousdale (pictured above) had a very successful year and recently paid back all its investors (a coup in under 12 months). Across the street from Trousdale on the Sunset Strip, Soho House had an equally successful 2010.

On the other side of town, Echo Park and Silver Lake saw the opening of a few new bars that made a bit of buzz, albeit of the low-key variety. The truck-stop chic of Stinkers gave way to the whiskey-soaked sophistication of The Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake, while Echo Park gained a great new cozy drinking den in 1642 bar. Los Feliz got a new wine bar, Bar Covell, which was a hit with first-daters the second it opened.

Downtown saw an explosion of new finds in 2010, the best being the simplest: Spring St. bar. Cedd Moses’ Las Perlas tempted tequila fiends while ex-Lava Lounge owner Michelle Marini opened up a smallish haunt called The Falls nearby.

Drai’s, Supperclub, Colony, and Premiere all douched up Hollywood, yet all three seem to still be doing well. Hemingway’s did better than all three of the aforementioned spots, at least in terms of drawing a fairly diverse crowd.

So what’s in store this year?

Tonight in Hollywood, The Spare Room at the Roosevelt officially debuts after hosting private holiday parties last month. The cocktail lounge features a gaming parlor and two vintage bowling lanes. Friday, David Judaken’s revamp of Opera debuts, dubbed Eden.

Beyond Hollywood, look for the Houston brothers to make noise once again with several new bars. The two had a huge hit in 2010 with the smart Havana-aping La Descarga, and the brothers will revamp the Stone Bar near Los Feliz this spring with a dive bar for those who are too hip for dive bars. Similarly, Roger Room overlords Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson are set to make a bit of low key noise with their revamp of the classic Coach & Horses on Sunset Blvd, which recently closed.

Los Angeles: One Day in Silver Lake

If Los Angeles were a band, Hollywood would be the showy lead singer. And Silver Lake would be the understated, contemplative bassist — the George Harrison of LA neighborhoods. Here’s how to spend a day in this artsy section of the city.

Breakfast: Start your day with one of the scrambles — Benedict or Florentine — at Millie’s, where they do everything the pain-in-the-ass, old-fashioned way: by hand and from scratch.

Walk: Think nobody walks in LA? Well, you’re probably right. But if you head down to the Silver Lake Reservoir, you’ll find plenty of locals cruising the newly opened walking path or sunning in the three-and-a-half-acre meadow, all part of a $2.1 million “all natural” project.

Sip: The coffee gurus at Intelligentsia have brought caffeination to another level — the beans are grown with the same care and commitment that artisanal farmers have for heirloom vegetables. The coffee’s also brewed by the cup rather than a whole batch, and there’s a seasonal lineup of featured brews and beans. So sip some socially and environmentally sustainable coffee, and you’ll feel superior to the Hollywood hype.

Lunch: Go Local for lunch at veteran chef Jason Michaud’s latest LA venture. Michaud’s so serious about serving local, organic ingredients, he named his restaurant for it. The organic salad bar, priced by the pound, offers plenty of greens and protein, and the menu is limited but eclectic, focusing on sandwiches and burgers for $11. There’s no beef hamburger, alas, as Michaud couldn’t find any California-raised beef he liked.

Shop: Mercado owners and longtime Silver Lakers Michelle Weaver and Chelsea Iovino traveled the world to bring rare merchandise to their modern Silver Lake shop. Los Angeles-based designers are also on the shelves, including Denise Plumb’s mysteriously soft tees and Jennifer Herwitt’s creepy-beautiful insect-inspired jewelry. The exotic doesn’t come cheap, but Mercado is worth a browse, and if you’re lucky, a splurge.

Cruise: If you want to buy (or just pine after) a vintage bike, check out Illuminati Motorcycles. Owner Barron has racer-style motorcycles for $2,500 and under, and a couple bikes are always parked on the corner of Sunset and Vendome, drawing hipsters on the way to shows at the Silverlake Lounge.

Dinner: Sure, neighborhood taquería Malo has become a much-less-secret spot since Brad Pitt showed up, but only those in the know order the off-menu “chewy chips,” a softer (and certainly more fattening) version of tortilla chips. The hipster-approved fare includes ground beef and pickle tacos and dangerously delicious fruit-infused top-shelf tequila.

Drink: Styled after a glammed-up 70s truck stop, Stinkers is kitsch and a half — mirrored walls lined with 5,000 vintage beer cans, cutouts of Burt Reynolds, and wall-mounted skunks (some with trucker hats). If you hear someone on the CB, a bartender is likely about to pull a cord causing a row of skunk butts to spray an odorless mist, giving new meaning to “drunk as a skunk.”
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