Just in time for the weekend, Filling Stations is a weekly post that highlights one of Los Angeles’ destinations for craft beer, be it a bottle-shop with a great selection, a restaurant with great food to go with their beer list, or a bar serving excellent beers.
- Neighborhood: Downtown LA View Larger Map
- Type: Gastro Pub
- Yelp Page
- Selection: 3/5 Price: 3/5 Staff: 4/5 Food: 5/5
Located in the Biscuit Company building on Industrial street adjacent to the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, Little Bear is a Belgian-focused beer bar with some killer food from the people behind Verdugo Bar and West Hollywood’s Surly Goat. With a mix of imported Belgian beers and a lot of Belgian-inspired local brews Little Bear is a can’t-miss spot for all the fans of that Belgian funk.
Little Bear is across the street from Downtown favorite Church and State, and the atmosphere at Little Bear is even more laid-back with a crowd that mixes Downtown professionals, art-walk hipsters, and Belgian obsessed beer hunters. The food ranges from decent to three-letter-internet-acronym worthy dishes that you’ll be craving days later, and the beer list is varied enough to keep pairings interesting.
The bar features 17 taps of Belgian-style beers split pretty evenly between imports, American craft examples of Belgian-style beers, and local favorites from the likes of Monkish, Ladyface, and Craftsman. Draught beers are between $6 and $8 for average sized pours for the style (measured here in centiliters just to keep things Belgian-y.) There is also an impressive bottle-list, including a good selection of sour beers, and while the bottles are by no means a bargain it’s a great way to try some really exceptional beers when out with a group.
The food options range from a selection of little plates, to decadent grilled-cheese sandwiches that feature short ribs or bacon or smoked salmon, to reportedly amazing burgers, to a few salads and entrees. waffles are of course an option for desert as well as available on the extensive brunch menu. Everything is prepared with flair and attention to detail, and we’ve been absolutely wowed by a few dishes from Chef Andre Guerrero’s kitchen. The first, which was unfortunately not on the menu for our last visit, was a Liege Salad that mixed bitter greens, green beans, fingerling potatoes, and goat cheese for one of the best salads we’ve had in years. Yeah, that good, and a perfect paring for a Belgian pale ale or golden ale. Recently the pastrami reuben has been the subject of our fitful craving. Piled high with pastrami fresh from Echo Park’s Oinkster (who learned their curing secrets from LA institution Langers), a crisp and funky sauerkraut, all on perfectly half-toasted rye bread, the sandwich was among the top 3 pastrami sandwiches of all-time.
The vibe of the space is an interesting mix of old Los Angeles and a kind of retro Euro traditionalist. It shakes out to be kind of an odd design, but the bar is absolutely beautiful. It snakes through the bright and airy space and stencils of famous Belgian beer names positively invite you to sit down and try something you’ve never heard of before. The lone flatscreen seems utterly out-of-place, and we’re not sure what is up with the complex network of ropes and cordage that decorate the high ceilings, but we always find ourselves lingering over one last glass of beer for a little longer than usual to enjoy the room.
On the outskirts of a part of town that is livening up seemingly every week, Little Bear is a refreshing beer destination. We’ve often found ourselves coming up with excuses to go Downtown just so we’d be logically close to Little Bear for a late lunch, and lunch time is our favorite time to visit as there are not the crowds that can often cause annoying non-brief waits for a table. Co-owner Ryan Sweeny has opened some great beer destinations and his commitment to the LA craft beer scene is admirable and should be supported. So make an excuse to head Downtown, look for the red door on Industrial St, and order the Pastrami (preferable paired with a nice sour – Craftman’s Honesty works quite well.)
- Anything on the menu with pastrami on it
- The Liege Salad
- The bottle list with some excellent options
- Awesome locally brewed beers that are tough to find other places
- Save some room for waffles!
Have you been to Little Bear? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.