STOP 1: Opening Cocktail @ The Mermaid
The bright lights of Little Tokyo fade into the distance as you step up to the corner of the strip mall to enter The Mermaid. The nautical tchotchkes catch your eye as you enter the one room tavern. Couples hole up at tables along side groups of partiers and the odd sports fan quietly watching his team lose on the bars only TV. The friendly bartender greets you from the sunken bar before discussing your nights first poison. They’re known for the Drink Your Vegetables but you might be having a cheat day and opt for something more dangerous. Either way you’ll be happy with your concoction as you sit down and let the relaxing vibe move you into the night. After you’ve had one or two settle your bill because you’re in Little Tokyo and there’s more food than you know what to do with.
DATE IT RIGHT:
-This local nautical themed bar is bare bones and perfect because of it. It’s in the far corner of the strip mall with Sushi Gen in it.
-Every day they have a happy hour from 5pm til 8pm with $1 wings and sub $6 snacks. Along with $6 beers and well drinks plus a $10 you call it boilermaker.
-The drink that's put them on the map is the "Drink Your Vegetables", its good but these bartenders are into making you anything you'd like, get creative and they'll go nuts.
-Don’t miss the window near the bathroom…a little mermaid surprise for you.
STOP 2: Izakaya @ Honda Ya
You enter the flow of eager mall rats riding up the escalator to what you hope is not their destination, Honda Ya. The line can get long here but your back up plan is no doubt video games at the bowling alley should it come to that. Luckily you have a quick wait and there’s a table in the washitsu room. Shoes off and smiles on you cozy up to your new drinking location with excitement. The hot sake delightfully flows as you decide on your izakaya. Shishito peppers, check, lamb chops, check, chicken hearts….check? Each dish lands in front of you almost each time you belt out a cheerful “kampai”. Every empty skewer is a new page turned on the story of the night. When your last sake is poured and the room begins to empty, you’ll know it’s ready to head to the place your wanted the most, the whiskey bar.
DATE IT RIGHT:
-This izakaya staple is located on the top floor of the mall across the street, cruise the 5 escalators and you're there.
-There is usually a line and they don't take reservations. When you put your name in definitely request the tatami mat room, it may be longer but adds so much to the experience. If it's a long wait just head over to the bowling alley on the same floor. Play a few arcade games...it'll pass the time extremely well.
- I highly suggest trying the chicken hearts, octopus, and definitely get the lamb chops!
STOP 3: Whiskey and Hi-Fi @ In Sheep’s Clothing
The awkward conversation begins as you enter the pizza joint Lupetti. “Is this where we’re going?”, you confidently know the answer and head to the door to the right for the real reason, In Sheep’s Clothing. The doorman takes your name before giving you a minute to come in. Once inside the wooden paneled and very orderly Hifi bar is alive, in a controlled and lovely atmosphere. Nothing is more overtaking than the one thing emanating from all ends of the room, the music is incredible. Arriving at the bar you’re mesmerized by the reflection of the records in the mirror before you forget you’re order. Eventually with drink in hand you secure a dimly lit space next to the bar. Sip after sip you delight in conversation and awe of the music selection, a space you can give credit to not just the creators but the Japanese culture itself, Domo Arigato.
DATE IT RIGHT:
-This hidden whiskey bar is in the side of Lupetti pizzaria. If you're not sure where it's the brown door at the end of the "merchandise hall".
-Getting here before 10pm is highly highly suggested. There usually is a little wait. You’ll have to give your name and number of your party to the friendly doorman. If that happens you can always grab a glass of wine from Lupetti and wait your turn to head inside.
-The music inside is incredible. It is on the chill side of things for the most part. Try to grab a table far from the bar where the music is perfectly balanced and sip your cocktail while diving into conversation.
-Photos are not their thing here. So I am not going to add one…add to the mystery.
- They also do coffee during the day, and keep your ear to the ground for their events. Lots of good music coming through these doors.