One thing I loved about life in New York City was the ability to walk from one bar to the next, all within a two-block radius. Whether I was club-hopping in Meatpacking or sipping in Soho, the packed streets made mixing up my nights a breeze. It is true that West Hollywood is filling with hotspots, and sure you can wander from Catch to E.P. & L.P. or even stroll over to Soulmate, but the sprawling landscape of LA often makes hitting a handful of venues in a single night a struggle.
However, I spent a recent Saturday evening on West 3rd Street near the intersection with South Sweetzer and noticed the evolution taking place in mid-city. This strip West of Fairfax is beginning to bustle with restaurants and bars that both delight the neighborhood crowd and bring in visitors from the outskirts of the city. On this particular occasion, I was heading to dine at Tabla by Sofi – a chic Mediterranean eatery with cute patio seating, bumping music, and flaming cheese (yes, you heard me right; they do indeed light their cheese on fire for the Gram). I found street parking a couple of blocks away and sauntered down 3rd in the direction of the Tabla’s charming, heated sidewalk seating. I was aghast as I wove my way in between birthday groups taking photos outside of bars as they waited to get in, and bodycon dress clad singles who handed their IDs to the bouncers posted outside dim dineries. When did this area become all the rage?– I wondered as my Saint Laurent boots slapped the pavement. But the further I investigated, the more it made sense that the congregating crowds had found a home here.
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Third Street in summary: Toca Madera is a must-hit for Mexican food, and rumor has it, this restaurant turns into a club scene on Monday nights. Plus, they host Mezcal Mondays, which (if you’re following my recs on Loop) you already know is my liquor of choice. I may need to circle back and do a full report on this one after I round up enough bravery to step out on a “school night.” Only a short walk away, you can book a visit at The Blending Lab Winery for a tasting session of locally made vino. Or, if you’re fixing for fine dining, The Little Door boasts modern European cuisine, including everything from Grilled Portuguese Octopus to Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb (someone remind me to tell my next first date that this is where I wanna dine). And The Phoenix – located towards La Cienega – is a contemporary dive bar with a chill, first-come-first-serve attitude, and a fucking killer soft pretzel. You get the gist, there really is a wide range of settings that supports this new pop of people seeking the night scene on third.
Let me zoom in to a personal favorite on the block, and my recommendation for the week: Theía. While they do serve food – including hummus dip and Truffled Mousaka – this restaurant slash lounge concept brings bottle-service level enthusiasm to every cocktail delivery. Okay, I’m not being cute with language here, they literally bring out drinks with sparklers and a crew of waitresses who draw attention to your table. I went Theia with my three best friends. We booked a 10pm reservation and were seeking some loud music and craft cocktails, all of which Theia delivered. I chose The Red Sea (sub mezcal of course) which was essentially their version of a margarita with prickly pear puree that brought a burst of sweetness – yum! Each cocktail the crew received was undoubtedly Instagram-able, and we may have even gotten a little basic and posted a toasting boomerang. With speaker volume at top-notch, we shouted across our small table and wiggled in our seats, dancing from the waist up. It was exactly what our group of successful 30-somethings needed in lieu of a nightclub. While the truly wild atmosphere may be best suited for a birthday gathering or a specific celebration, I also love the idea of stopping by after a quiet dinner with a date – you know, to test how fun your new beau may be. So whether this is your sole stop of the night or the way you end your evening, the fireworks at Theia can certainly add some flare to a Friday (or any other weeknight, that alliteration was just too good to miss).
If you’re looking to let the drinks dictate your direction for the night, hop over to this section of 3rd Street and see how many bars can you hit. The plentiful options may just remind you of what city nightlife is supposed to be like.