NFT Los Angeles Marina del Rey / Westchester West

Marina del Rey / Westchester West

The mid-rise condos and taut-canvas feel of Marina del Rey's smartly dense marina area are perfect for Three's Company-style aging swingers who never quite got over the '80s. This is the largest man-made harbor in the world, and is full of every type of water vessel imaginable, from paddleboats to 200-foot yachts. Here the real estate ranges from charming to hideous, but always expensive.

Immediately following World War II, Westchester sprung up like a buzz-cut, golf-playing mushroom, and its journey continues. Between the new construction and quasi-historic restoration, there's always a bulldozer around somewhere. For now, though, we'll always have ace sushi at Kanpai.


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Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Dockweiler Beach
Picture your favorite dive bar. (If you're somehow under 21, use your turbo-charged imagination.) Do you love it? Yes. You're not made of stone. Would you sleep on the floor? Would you eat off the floor? Probably not, most nights. Likewise, you wouldn't go surfing or swimming at Dockweiler Beach, LA's official party beach, within spitting distance of LAX and a massive sewage-treatment plant. You'd go to Manhattan Beach (which the sewage somehow skips over), Malibu or the mythical OC for that. And, on your better nights, it doesn't come up. Think of Dockweiler as a dive bar the whole family can enjoy. The bathrooms are abhorrent to any sentient being. But the people are uniformly fascinating. During the day, it's all affable gangbangers, awkward club girls and wind-beaten outcasts. At night, it's fire-twirlers and other Burning Man orphans. If you're meeting strangers, meet 'em at the Dockweiler fire-pits. Just don't go near the water.

Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Mo's Place
Come for the unpredictable patrons; stay for the unpredictable staff. No bartenders on the coast have more violent mood swings than the wrinkled raisins behind the wood at Mo's. Belly up, order something simple, and you'll find them preternaturally sweet, and the well mixer will kick your ass. Sip it responsibly as you root for the home team, on a state-of-the-art big screen, for half an hour. Return to the bar, wait another half an hour for a re-up, and get treated like rancid mayonnaise, dollar tip be damned. If you're a sports buff, and you're the adult child of alcoholics, you'll blend in here. Show up on Monday during football season--that's all I’m going to tell you. The charismatic namesake supposedly inspired Moe from The Simpsons, but you know what to do with hearsay.

Posted By:  adam c. marshall
Photo:  adam c. marshall

Tompkins Square Bar and Grill
There's nothing worse than a dive bar tease. You know the type. Looks like the kind of place you can get some reasonably priced booze in a relaxed environment. All bar and no scene. But then you walk in and its a breeding ground for Silverlake boys and overpriced drinks. Nothing's worse. But I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into Tompkins. It wasn't the dive bar I was expecting from its exterior, but it was... good. The love child of a neighborhood bar and a sports bar. A recently renovated bar, plasma screens on the wall, and a local crowd. When a bar fits you like a glove, you know it. They can mix your favorite drink within an inch of its life; chit-chat with the bartender rolls off your tongue; and you find yourself talking sports with strangers. Tompkins is a dive bar at heart. And to boot: they have a fantastic build-your-own-burger menu. The only drawback is their proximity to LMU. So I recommend weeknights and taking advantage of their holiday breaks. Come summer, it's like 60/40 that you'll catch me at Tompkins. Maybe 70/30.

Posted By:  Jake Williamson
Photo:  Jake Williamson

Mao's Kitchen
I generally don't drink with Chinese food. The rich, oily flavors of country-style Chinese cuisine and my tendency to gorge just don't seem to mix with alcohol. But because Mao's Kitchen is BYOB (why is it so hard to avoid establishments with such a feature?), goddamn it, I do both and end up with the rare food/alcohol double hangover. Shitty day after aside, the original Mao's Kitchen in Venice (there is also a Hollywood location) is some of the best Chinese food in LA outside of Chinatown and it is not hard to figure out why: no canned products, no MSG, communist propaganda on the walls brainwashing the proletariat, and a kitchen that will go out of its way to alter dishes to the patron’s desire. Yeah, that last one is a bit too LA for me, but man, ask them to fry your Kung Pao Chicken and you will be enlightened to the power and glory of the special order. Be prepared, it will be busy if you take out or dine in. After all, you have a bunch of jerks bringing their own alcohol and backing up the kitchen with special orders. Unclasp your chains and don't be left out.

Posted By:  Jake Williamson
Photo:  Jake Williamson

Prince O' Whales
This will be tough advice for some, but I urge you: Leave the newly gentrified, hip Culver City and the rest of the overly-populated, ever-changing Westside behind. Go to the beach and have a drink, but don't go to the yuppie-filled South Bay or BoBo Venice; instead go somewhere that sits between the two, Prince O Whales. P.O.W.s, as it is called by its frequenters, is a low key bar for fringe Angelenos wanting a drink and decent company. Chat with the bartenders who always make a strong drink or sit in the half-indoor middle room with a cigarette (the bartenders are more than willing to bum you one if you don’t have one on you). Yes, believe it or not, there is a bar in L.A. where you are not cast away like a leper if you want a cigarette with your drink. No promotions. No "divey but trendy" status. No over-priced drinks. No borderline celebrities. Just a bar where locals will talk with you, watch a sporting event (one can request any game they want and will never get an argument), and on occasion listen to a local band. Sit with a drink and enjoy how bars on the coast were meant to be before Los Angeles sprawled its way to the ocean.

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Restaurants (15)
Nightlife (4)
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