“After working a 60+ hour work week, super crowded, noisy bars are the last place I want to be. Sometimes you want peace and quiet and a space where you can enjoy good food, imbibe in good drink, and actually be able to carry a conversation,” says chef Spencer Bezaire, co-owner of L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake.
We totally get it, Spencer. We like to actually hear our date or engage in prolonged conversation with bartenders too.
So where does this award-winning, Zagat’s “30 Under 30” chef like to knock a few back after a long shucking day? Here’s where you’ll find the Altadena native when he’s not frying oysters or grilling up fish:
Chef Spencer Bezaire, co-owner of L&E Oyster Bar. Image courtesy of L&E Oyster Bar.
L&E Oyster Bar, Upstairs
Spencer Bezaire: Contrary to popular belief, L&E during the week is not always a mad house, actually more often than not upstairs is the perfect place to lounge, enjoy some fresh oysters and drink some amazing natural wine. Happy hour kicks off at 5 and ends at 7, and there usually is always room at the bar or on the patio outside.
Upstairs, happy hour is from 5-7 pm, M-F. Image courtesy @leoysterbar
Echo Park, $$
SB: A Tuesday at 6 pm with a glass of some really funky sparkling natural rose is where I always want to be. Bar Bandini has a plethora of natural wines both on tap and by the bottle, with a great list of obscure locally made beers to boot. The whipped ricotta and warm bread from Lodge Bread Company is not to be missed, and the olive oil they source is tip top.
Bar Bandini just celebrated their 1-year b-day! Image courtesy @barbandini
Highland Park, $$
SB: Opened by the same group that operates The Greyhound, ETA is a more relaxed spot, focused more on cocktails and wine. It’s a small and simply designed space in the heart of the ever-changing stretch of Figueroa, that’s dimly lit and a great place to sit and unwind on a weekday.
Check out ETA’s Wax Wednesdays = vinyl DJ sets. Image courtesy @etahlp
Highland Park, $$
SB: Home of the best brewery in Los Angeles, Highland Park Brewery, the Hermosillo can get pretty hectic on weekends. During the week, however, if there is not a beer-themed event, it can be mellow and relaxed. Order a pint of HPB and a bowl of fried pickles, and call it a night!
A cool joint with craft beer and fried pickles? #diedandgonetoheaven. Image courtesy @thehermosillo
Los Feliz, $$
SB: Another spot that is assumed to always be crazy busy, Covell during the week, especially early in the evening, can be pretty mellow. They offer some great bites, as well as an ever-changing wine and tap list. Take over the corner bench under the vintage cameras and order a glass of Sancerre. Don’t forget ordering the croque monsieur sandwich!
150 wines to try, but don’t dare ask for a wine list. Image courtesy @barcovell
Sherman Oaks, $$
SB: How many times have you had the opportunity to have a glass of wine from your birth year? At Augustine, Matt Kaner and Dave Gibbs have a deep wine cellar, and are not afraid to pop the cork on some dusty vintages. Great small bites complement and unparalleled wine list, and a great off the beaten path spot to imbibe in some rare wines on a school night.
Warning: Really old wine may have this effect on you too. Image courtesy @augustinewinebar
SB: One of my favorite local haunts, the Rancho never changes, and never disappoints. During the week it’s a great place to shoot a game of pool, and hang out on the front patio with an ice cold beer, and escape from the city into the mountains. If you time it right, they offer different themed food events on the first Monday of every month, for free!
On the weekends, they’re known for their killer Bloody Marys. Image courtesy @ mr_buddha
SB: Nothing like a frosty glass of Hi-Life, a basket of fried chicken, and a slice of white bread to kick a weeknight off. Hank Williams Jr. is playing, Buck Hunter is in the corner, there’s a bar-sized pool table, and a Dodger game is on in the background. Feels like home.
Thank god it’s fried-day. Image courtesy @crawfordsbarla
Lanee Lee is the co-founder of VoyageVixens.com, an award-winning, female-centric travel blog. She also is a food, drink and travel writer for mags like Nat Geo Traveler, Rachael Ray and Robb Report. Follow her on Instagram @laneelee.
Header Image courtesy of L&E Oyster Bar