How to plan a beer crawl along the Metro Red Line

Bar crawls are fun, but the logistics can be tricky, especially when you’re looking for craft beer, as the best destinations for beer in the city are often spread wide and thin. So forget about parking or a long chain of Uber rides and explore L.A.’s craft beer scene with the help of public transportation. You can drink responsibly, be more eco-friendly and support your city’s infrastructure. With four major train lines crisscrossing Los Angeles, you can plan a whole afternoon’s worth of cold beers without ever getting in a car. 

Metro’s Red Line began service in 1993, and the subway trains cover 17 miles of track between downtown L.A. and North Hollywood. Ten of the 14 stations on the line are within a short stroll of some of L.A.’s notable beer destinations. Whether you’re commuting home after a long day or you’re on a dedicated beer safari, here’s a guide to your best options for grabbing a pint of craft beer near Red Line stations.

Union Station

The Red Line begins the journey north into the San Fernando Valley at downtown’s major transportation hub, and you don’t need to travel far from Union Station to find a beer. Traxx Restaurant inside the station offers a handful of craft beers within the Art Deco bar area — which was formerly the station’s telephone room. After a pint at Traxx, visit another historic L.A. institution now serving craft beer, just a few blocks up Alameda Street: Philippe's the Original, where you can lay down a hearty base of French dip sandwiches and potato salad. The beer selection is limited, but there’s usually something brewed locally on tap, and really it’s about those double-dipped, perfectly soggy sandwiches. Until the nearby Boomtown Brewery opens its own tasting room for regular hours — on track for a winter 2016 grand opening — your best bet for a deep selection of craft beer in the area is Spring Street Smokehouse. The no-frills BBQ joint offers a tap list loaded with local brews and a lengthy bottle list to pair with ribs, brisket and andouille.

Traxx, 800 N. Alameda St. No. 122, Los Angeles, (213) 625-1999, www.traxx.la.

Philippe’s the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, (213) 628-3781, www.philippes.com

Spring Street Smokehouse, 640 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213) 626-0535, www.sssmokehouse.com

Pershing Square

There are some great options near the stop at Pershing Square, namely Grand Central Market. Whether you consider it gentrified or revitalized, the market is now home to much better beer. Between Horse Thief’s outdoor bar, Golden Road’s 20-tap counter (they also have pierogies), and a few other vendors offering taps and bottles (and beer to-go at Courage & Craft), GCM is a great destination on any downtown beer crawl. Buzz Wine Beer Shop is just two blocks from the market down 5th Street. The shop has a large selection of single bottles and six packs that you can take to-go or enjoy in the lounge area in the back. Spring Street Bar, between 6th and 7th, is a favorite of downtown residents, and besides the 20-plus craft taps, including local favorites from Craftsman Brewing and Eagle Rock Brewery, the bar offers sandwiches and pours a stiff cocktail — including some inventive beer cocktails. 

Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 624-2378, www.grandcentralmarket.com

Buzz Wine Beer Shop, 460 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213) 622-2222, www.buzzwinebeershop.com.

Spring Street Bar, 626 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (213) 622-5859, www.springstla.com

7th & Metro 

There are two L.A.-based gastropub chainlets with outposts near the next station on the line: City Tavern in the Fig & 7th development, and Plan Check just a few blocks north on Wilshire Boulevard. Both offer lots of craft taps, pub fare and bar snacks — and comfortable outdoor seating to relax with your brews. Another option for al fresco pints is a few blocks north inside the mirrored curves of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. The Bonaventure Brewing Co. is one of L.A.’s oldest brewpubs, and happy hour on the patio is a great way to experience the house beers (start with the Marathon Ale — a favorite with the regulars) or guest taps.

City Tavern DTLA, 735 S. Figueroa St. No. 133, Los Angeles, (213) 239-5654, www.citytaverndtla.com

Plan Check, 1111 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 403-1616, www.plancheck.com

Bonaventure Brewing Co., 404 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213) 236-0802, www.bonaventurebrewing.com

Vermont & Santa Monica

This station is near two hidden gems: the Faculty and the Virgil. The first is on the south side of L.A. Community College at Melrose Avenue and Heliotrope Drive, and the dark and cozy pub offers sandwiches, cheese boards, boutique wines and a mix of craft beer classics and offerings from newer breweries. Even closer to the station is the Virgil, and while the popular space skews toward the craft cocktail crowd, there’s a tight beer list with local favorites (and you can catch a comedy show or a DJ set in the adjacent room).

The Faculty, 707 N. Heliotrope Drive, Los Angeles, (323) 284-8002, www.thefacultyla.net.

The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 660-4540, www.thevirgil.com.

Vermont & Sunset 

The next station offers easy access to the Los Feliz neighborhood, Barnsdall Art Park, and one of the better beer stores in central Los Angeles. Cap N’ Cork Junior Market is a half-mile walk from the station, but the selection of six packs and specialty beers is worth the stroll (not to mention all the spirits and wines in stock). Bar Covell is a neighborhood favorite wine bar with 150 by-the-glass options, and the bar’s eight craft beer taps rotate often through local favorites (Monkish, El Segundo Brewing Co). The comfortable and hip space — just a few minutes’ walk from the Metro stop —  is next door to the new Go Get Em Tiger coffee shop, if you need to mix some caffeine into your beer-crawl. A little longer stroll south into Silver Lake, and you’ll find Jay’s Bar. The dark and spartan space was built for drinking, and it’s a reliable spot to try some new, locally made brews (another option for a quick caffeine fix, Dinosaur Coffee, is right across the street).

Cap N’ Cork, 674 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 665-7880

Bar Covell, 4628 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 660-4400, www.barcovell.com

Jay’s Bar, 4321 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 666-1898, www.jaysbarla.com

Hollywood & Western 

Next stop, Hollywood — and cocktail country. Three blocks east of this station on Hollywood Boulevard is Harvard & Stone, a popular craft cocktail joint that also pours some craft beer standards. They don’t open until 8 p.m., but their happy hour goes until 9:30 p.m. with deals on canned beer (and $5 old fashioned cocktails). Head two blocks west from the station and you’ll find the vibey Know Where Bar and a few more taps of craft beer. It’s another joint that leans more toward cocktails than beer; keep riding the rails into the heart of Hollywood to find the real craft beer destination.

Harvard & Stone, 5221 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 466-6063, harvardandstone.com

Know Where Bar,  5634 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 871-4108, www.theknowwherebar.com

Hollywood & Vine

When you emerge from the depths of the next station, you’re hit in the face with the glitter, the glitz and (mostly) the grit of Hollywood proper. Ignore the panhandlers and CD-peddlers and head two more blocks east toward the Music Box theater, where you’ll find Blue Palms Brewhouse. With 24 taps and a lengthy reserve bottle list, Blue Palms is reason enough for hop-heads to visit Hollywood, and there’s no better place for a pre-show pint before heading to the attached Music Box, the Pantages Theater across the street, or the nearby Palladium. Walk just half a mile north and east from the station and you’ll be in Franklin Village, where you can grab a pint and a burger at Franklin & Co. or bottles to-go at the Oaks Gourmet. The latter spot is one of the few shops in Hollywood with a decent selection of craft beer.

Blue Palms Brewhouse, 6124 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 464-2337, www.bluepalmsbrewhouse.com

Franklin & Co., 5923 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 463-1552, www.franklinandcotavern.com

The Oaks Gourmet, 1915 N. Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 871-8894, www.theoaksgourmet.com

Hollywood & Highland

Skip the Hard Rock Cafe and the Buffalo Wild Wings in the touristy heart of Hollywood and head a few blocks east to the ever-changing Cahuenga Corridor, between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Cahuenga offers a dozen bars, restaurants and cafes, and Stout Burger on the corner of Selma Avenue is your best bet for craft beer. Behind the curved bar are some 30 taps to choose from, with hoppy brews, Belgian styles and potent specialty beers all well-represented. Don’t miss the off-menu pretzel, large enough to share with your beer-crawl companions.

Stout Burgers & Beer, 1544 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 469-3801, www.stoutburgersandbeers.com

Universal City

After Hollywood, the Red Line pushes under the Cahuenga Pass and into the San Fernando Valley. The next stop is at the base of Universal City, and you can catch a shuttle or walk up the hill into the CityWalk mall, where you’ll find a Karl Strauss brewpub. The pioneering craft brewery from San Diego is often overlooked by craft beer fans for newer, more exciting producers. But the City Walk brewpub is a comfortable oasis from the mall’s crowds, the beers are good, and the happy hour is tough to beat ($5 pints from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday). If you’d rather avoid CityWalk entirely, just walk south on Lankershim Boulevard, turn left on Ventura Boulevard and a block down you’ll find Spitz Studio City. This is where you can grab a doner sandwich of spit-roasted meat and French fries wrapped in lavash, and a pint of local beer. There’s also another Stout Burger location about a mile northwest on Ventura Boulevard, if you’re more in the mood for a burger or a pretzel with your pint. 

Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Universal CityWalk, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Universal City, (818) 753-2739, www.karlstrauss.com

Spitz Studio City, 3737 Cahuenga Blvd., Studio City, (818) 755-0400, www.eatatspitz.com

Stout Burgers & Beer, 11262 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 505-0076, www.stoutburgersandbeers.com

North Hollywood

At last, the northern terminus of the Metro Red Line. The neighborhood around North Hollywood station has developed a lot in the last few years, and there’s now an array of theaters, restaurants and bars within a short walk of the station. For some cold craft brews, your best bet is the Federal Bar about a block south of the station on Lankershim Boulevard. Built into an old bank, the Federal Bar offers lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and regular live entertainment. Farther south on Lankershim Boulevard is the District Pub, with 24 taps and a selection of bottles. Neither spot will blow you away with rare beers or hard-to-find breweries, but each is a solid and reliable refuge if you’re thirsty. Or, if you’re after some dessert after a day of riding the rails, stumble into the Republic of Pie near the intersection of Magnolia Boulevard and Lankershim Boulevard for a slice and a sobering cup of joe before hitting the tracks for the ride home.

The Federal Bar, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 980-2555, www.thefederalbar.com

The District Pub, 5249 Lankershim Blvd., Los Angeles, (818) 732-7319, www.districtpubnoho.com

The Republic of Pie, 11118 W. Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, (818) 308-7990, www.republicofpie.com

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