Taking a pointed stance against traditionally performed music, John Kraus and the Goers perform a collection of some of the finest songs of the sea from the past 2 centuries, and some from contemporaries and decades not long past. “Donkey Off a Dead Horse” modernizes a selection of sea shanties into one relevant and urgent-sounding CD that leaves mockers of trad music singing, and trad music lovers scratching their heads and checking their rule books.
The unpretentious vibe at Villain’s Tavern is pretty kick ass. Located off the beaten path in the Arts District, Villain’s feels like an apothecary’s hideout in the middle of nowhere. The massive arch of potion bottles is a trip, and the drinks are worthy of applause. Whether it’s a simple whiskey soda or their grapefruit and jalapeño infused Greyhound, the bartenders know how to craft an elixir. 1356 Palmetto St.; (213) 613-0766
By: Mary Carreon
By Jeff Miller
7. Villains Tavern
1356 Palmetto St; Downtown; 213.613.0766
Though it’s now partially covered with a circus tent (thanks to complaints from an overzealous, obviously very cool neighbor), a move which drops it down this list, Villains is the only spot that comes to mind where you can eat, drink, hear live music, and smoke (!!…?) semi-outdoors in the city.
BY SCOTT HUVER
Villains Tavern just may be the ideal lair for partners in crime, a gathering place for the colorfully nefarious where one could easily imagine Lex Luthor, Professor Moriarty and Auric Goldfinger toasting world domination during a respite from skullduggery.
Perched aside the Los Angeles River in the Arts District along Downtown’s eastern boundary, Villains Tavern is the not-so-sinister master plan of interior designer/nightlife impresario Dana Hollister (Cliff’s Edge, Brite Spot). Falling for a building with an eccentric pedigree (a former sandwich and spirits shop on a property owned by the bizarre electronics TV pitchman Crazy Gideon), Hollister converted it into a lavishly baroque yet intimate watering hole for eclectic hipsters plotting their own nightly schemes.
“It’s been like a psychotic craft project,” chuckles Hollister, a self-described “maximalist” who’s loaded the locale with twisted touches reflecting her belief that “bars are like altars, in a perverse way.” There’s the antique centerpiece bar—created in the Bowery in the late 1800s—she discovered in Utah; the looming arches from cathedral eaves converted into the bar’s mirrored backdrop; and the stained-glass effect resulting from lining the large front windows with scores of 19th-century apothecary bottles that subvert sunbeams with multicolored dyed liquids.
A clandestine, cobbled-together craziness permeates: The walls are paneled with a mosaic of nearly 150 vintage doors; a Mediterranean patio is populated with Argentine lawn chairs circa 1890– 1920 and a shiny hand shuffleboard table; and the mishmash of mismatched barware suggests it was swiped from all sorts of saloons. Even a signature cocktail, the Stan Lee, evokes the creator of grand comic-book baddies like Dr. Doom, Green Goblin and Magneto. “We’re on the edge,” says Hollister of her antiheroic haven. “This is where you fall into the river.” Or, perhaps, are pushed. 1356 Palmetto St., LA; villainstavern.com
This place is an exactly what you’d imagine when you hear the phrase ‘gothic dive bar with LA vibes.’ Owner Dana Hollister (who’s also a designer to local A-listers) describes it like this: “If Jimi Hendrix and Jack the Ripper had opened a bar in the San Francisco’s Haight in the 1860’s, this is what it would look like.” She’s right. It rules. You can find it just on the fringe of LA’s arts district, and as such, it attracts a pretty edgy and arty crowd! There’s over 28 draft beers on offer, and a heap of (yum) fatty bar food with names like ‘Devil Dog’, ‘Demon Burger’ and ‘Babe on a Bun.’ But the real reason people like MKTO’s Tony come here, is for the music.
Come here basically any night of the week, and there’ll be a sick live band playing on one of the patios. Themed music nights like Real Dirty American Blues, 1920s/30s Vintage Americana, Swing & Jazz and Bluegrass on Saturdays. That’s not to mention the awesome ambient/indie tunes spinning inside the bar! It’s rare to find places that you can rock up in the middle of the week, and you’ll still find a full-blown social scene of local artists, musicians and cool LA types. But this place is it! As a side note, the décor is mega impressive, with gigantic mirrors and rows of bottles — it’s like a cathedral dedicated to music. Bring your friends here when you’re in town, for massive cool points.
MKTO are pop/rap duo Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller. The pair met in 2010 while filming the Nickelodeon show, ‘Gigantic’. Their debut single ‘Thank You’ has ploughed through the charts and their passionate fan base is growing at an insane rate. Expect to see much more of these guys around!
via MTV Travel Co.
Big top-striped curtains, colored-glass medicine bottles, gothic wooden arches, and pew seating give a carny-church quality to Villains Tavern. Bluesy-folksy bands take the stage on the patio every night, and seasonal drinks are strong and come by the mason jar. The L.A. Barbie—a potent blend of Hacienda tequila, Aperol, red pepper, Tapatío, and lemon—is a spicy concoction that goes down too easy. Should you require sustenance, the Wicked Fries with Parmesan and parsley or the bourbon-bacon-caramel popcorn ought to set you right. Good tip: Parking’s free in the adjacent lot. » 1356 Palmetto St., villainstavern.com. –
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