L.A.’s Hidden Food & Drink

Put on your cloak (leave the dagger). We’re heading into the realm of roving supper clubs and not-so-legal speakeasies, off-menu secrets and off-grid eateries. Because sometimes the best place to get a bite or have a sip is the one nobody else knows

Eagle Rock Brewery
Based on the name, you might think to look for the brewery somewhere in Eagle Rock. You would be wrong. The new beer maker is actually in an unmarked warehouse on an unscenic stretch of Glassell Park. Push through two doors, and you’ll come upon granite counters, modern bistro lights, and a few dozen scruffy folks playing Scrabble, eating peanuts, and sampling some of the best craft brews around. // 3056 Roswell St., Glassell Park, 323-257-7866.

Eastside Luv
It’s widely acknowledged that any L.A. bar sporting a sign just isn’t worth going to. Still, this unmarked wine and cheese (sorry, queso) bar in Boyle Heights looks especially unassuming from the outside. The room is dripping with red (velvet wallpaper, chandeliers) and often packed with locals who come to drink (this is not a swirl-and-sip joint) and gawk at the Chicano art and the burlesque dancers who take the stage on Saturdays. // 1835 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights, 323-262-7442.

It’s Top Chef every day on the ground floor of Le Cordon Bleu Los Angeles’s newest building. Under soaring ceilings, the school’s aspiring culinary stars oversee every aspect of the full-service eatery as a sort of final exam. It’s also where, for a $10 or $15 prix fixe, you can dig into a crispy shrimp quesadilla or braised short ribs with spaetzle. // 525 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626-229-1377.

Supper club locations tend to change from month to month, and scoring an invitation can require tenacity. Beyond a dash of secrecy, they offer some of the city’s most adventurous cooking. To them, serving sweetbreads with burned eggplant and bone marrow puree in someone’s loft sounds just fine. The most in-demand table is at Wolvesmouth, the downtown Arts District gettogether orchestrated by Craig Thornton. Several times a month the 28-year-old Bouchon alum whips up avant-garde dishes like the aforementioned for 12 lucky members of his online community, the Wolvesden. Join the mailing list—and cross your fingers.

Academy Café
We’ll have the patty melt, fries, and a side of gunfire, please. Deep within the bucolic mystery of Elysian Park is the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club. And inside that is a timeless greasy spoon with Formica counters, black leather booths, and a decent tuna sandwich. No need to flash a badge to get a table—this place is open to the public. // 1880 Academy Dr., Elysian Park, 323-221-5222, ext. 214.

The Old Place
The false front, the weathered wood, the antlers—the restaurant looks as if it’s been airlifted from Deadwood. Tom and Barbara Runyon created a country hideout in the hills of Agoura after they bought the building in the 1960s. Before that the building served as a general store and post office for decades. Within are five booths, a snug bar, and the aroma of terrific steak cooked over red oak. // 29983 Mulholland Hwy., Agoura, 818-706-9001.

Mary’s Market and Canyon Café
To reach Mary’s you drive past the turn-of-the-century storefronts of small-town Sierra Madre and into a tree-dense canyon along sinewy streets lined with stone walls. The parking lot sits above a leaf-strewn wash, and rustic homes climb the hill above the café. Anywhere else the waffles, corn dogs, and chicken salad sandwiches would be good enough; here, at a quaint counter in an unsullied swath of old California, they can only delight. // 561 Woodland Dr., Sierra Madre, 626-355-4534.

Arroyo Seco Grill
The coffee shop takes cover in the Arroyo Seco Golf Course, which itself is in a broad riverbed and shrouded by sycamores. Most people only learn about the restaurant when they’re plinking around the miniature golf course or the driving range. It can be pretty crowded at breakfast, but on afternoons you can have the place to yourself as you accompany your perfectly respectable burger with a Bloody Mary or a couple of beers. That’s right: There’s a full bar. // 1055 Lohman Ln., South Pasadena, 323-255-1155.

Basement Tavern
Brides, beware—Sazerac-sipping hipsters might be lurking beneath the floorboards of the Victorian, a charming wedding venue. On top of hosting all manner of private events, the little yellow mansion dating from 1882 recently opened its nether region as a speakeasy-style bar (hence the mounted deer head and crystal chandeliers) that slings Prohibition-era cocktails. The entrance is around back through the parking lot; look for the chalkboard sign. (We don’t recommend going through the front unless you’re in a tux—or you like free cake.) // 2640 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-392-4956.

Barbara’s at the Brewery
It just feels right, being able to quaff a goblet of craft beer at a former brewery. Now in its 29th year, the converted Pabst Blue Ribbon facility and Edison power plant in Lincoln Heights is the largest live-work art colony in the world. Supplying those creative types with their fuel of choice, Barbara’s restaurant is buried in the middle of the complex at the back of the parking lot, past a loading dock, next to a bookstore. Turn down Moulton and watch for a pink neon heart to your left. Three patios, a dining room, and a bar serve Macho Nachos, meat loaf, and ten primo beers on tap at lunch and dinner weekdays. // 620 Moulton Ave., Ste. 110, Lincoln Heights, 323-221-9204.