My husband and I are big fans of craft beer (he is an IPA fiend; I err on the side of dark porters). With no shortage of regular pubs, gastro pubs, and breweries to choose from in Los Angeles, we have focused on finding that elusive 1-2-3 combo: good beer, good pub fare, and the Cheers-like, ‘this-is-my-corner-pub’ feeling.
High on our list is 3rd Stop, on 3rd just west of La Cienega and the Beverly Center and directly across from the Cedars-Sinai medical office towers (depending on the nature of your appointment, I highly recommend an either before or after pint). The gastropub, which has been in operation since 2006, is a true neighborhood watering hole. “It really starts with the staff; we all act as if we’re inviting people into our home,” says manager Eric Bautista. “Everyone who works here, from our dishwasher to bartenders, knows the customers.”
3rd Stop offers 36 regularly rotated beers on tap. IPAs are the darling of the moment and there is a range to choose from, but Eric also serves up lagers, pale ales, white ales, and interesting craft alternatives like the peanut butter milk stout from San Diego’s Belching Beaver Brewery (if the name of the beer isn’t enough to get you to try it, who can resist a belching beaver?) For those conservative of taste, there is always the safety of a Bud Light.
The food is a carefully-constructed mix of creative and familiar, all of it delicious. An appetizer highlight is the scrumptious shortrib nachos with gruyere, crispy shallots, and jalapenos. My family regularly succumbs to cravings for 3rd Stop’s burgers, served with delicate fries and homemade ketchup. My twelve-year-old son likes the classic burger with peppercorn aioli and cheddar cheese, but I’m partial to the aptly-named Oink, which comes with pork belly, beer tempura ring, and a slice of muenster.
3rd Stop’s secret sauce, however, is not its homemade ketchup but the friendliness of its stuff. My son gets a glass of water with a proliferation of lime, lemon and orange slices as soon as he sits down. The bartenders not only know that he likes fruit but are up on his school progress; presented with a choice of several eateries, this is the place he wanted to go to celebrate finishing 6th grade.
Last Saturday, as we sat under the pub’s sprawling, Tim Burton-esque chandelier, Eric recounted a story of a long-standing customer who’s just had his birthday party at the pub. “Probably half of the 40 guests were regulars we all knew,” he said excitedly.
I can just see it. The story is giving me ideas for my next birthday bash, Oink, peanut butter stout and all.