Los Angeles is known for its endless miles of faceless strip malls. However, true Angelenos know that greatness often lurks in the midst of all that beige paint and unappealing signage. And we react with the pleasure of true urban explorers when we stumble across a hidden gem in this tangled concrete jungle of ours.
That's just how I felt when I visited Jay's Bar in Silver Lake on a recent Friday evening. The place quietly opened in February. So quietly, in fact, that it completely evaded my razor-sharp bar radar (let's call it my "bardar").
Jay's Bar is owned by 39-year-old Jason Batten, who also owns and operates Garage Pizza in the same strip mall on the corner of Fountain and Sunset Boulevard. He opened that restaurant in 2008 and another in downtown L.A. in 2011.
Batten's second love, after pizza, is bartending. He cut his teeth in the biz by managing popular neighborhood bars like the Edendale and 4100 bar, so when it came time to expand his business prospects he decided to open a bar.
From the outside, Jay's looks like a nondescript dive, but inside it's all modern concrete, clean lines and mood lighting. A long bar at the back of the room displays bottles of largely craft spirits and is staffed by bartenders who expertly whip up old-fashioneds, Manhattans and Blood & Sands alongside simpler staples like classic gin and tonics and vodka sodas.
There is also a great list of craft beer on offer, much of it on draft. Highlights of the list include Eagle Rock Unionist Belgian Pale Ale, Bear Republic Rocket Red Ale and Stone RuinTen.
The menu consists of thoughtful gastropub fare including beet and kale salad with blue cheese and creamy herb dressing ($9); corn meal hush puppies with a side of honey butter ($8); a bacon and blue burger made with grass-fed beef topped with blue cheese, thyme, mushrooms and onions ($15); and Havarti mac 'n' cheese ($9).
Best of all, Jay's Bar is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., just like all bars should be!
Jay's Bar, 4321 W Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 666-1898; www.jaysbarla.com