In recent years, the influx of gastropubs have many people around the world searching for the next best place to grab a bite or a drink. Much like how craft still only accounts for less than 10% of the world’s total beer consumption, less than 10% of the world understands the meaning of a gastropub. In short, we call a restaurant a gastropub when they focus on higher quality in the food and beer. If a restaurant does not serve beer and food, that restaurant cannot claim the title of gastropub. Although gastropubs have existed as early as the early 1990’s, many more gastropubs have surfaced within the past few years thanks to the public’s desire for better quality than the standard corporate business. Today, gastropubs exist in every major metropolitan area and in many rural areas as well. With this, a handful of them sadly do not live up to the expectations of a gastropub. To eliminate any doubt about gastropubs, check out five in the greater Los Angeles area I highly suggest visiting this season for various reasons.

5. The Rusty Monk

Opening less than a year ago, The Rusty Monk comes forward with a old-time Belgian theme. Located in Uptown Whittier very close to another popular gastropub, The Rusty Monk makes you feel like dining in a traditional European establish, what with the interior decor and the snazzy outfits of the servers. The food menu resembles typical pub grub, which includes various sandwiches, entrées, and many Western-Central European dishes, such as schnitzel, shepherd’s pie, Bavarian pretzels, and more. The true delight lies in their beer selection, which contains a plethora of imported Belgian, Austrian, and German beers. Fans of Western-Central European beers ought to visit The Rusty Monk now while we wait for Oktoberfest, because we can only imagine how busy The Rusty Monk gets during the Oktoberfest time.

4. The Rookery

Downtown Pomona has really turned into a popular place for young adults in the past few years. Many stores now appear more alternative, almost giving off a hipster vibe without feeling so pretentious. Traditional restaurants and bars aplenty, new restaurants have slowly moved in over the past few years, such as The Rookery right there on the corner. This gastropub opened a while back, yet to this day, they still do not utilize a POS system; believe it or not, your bill and receipt come on a handwritten notepad, straight out of the 80’s. Tidbit aside, they have stepped things up since my first visit. The menu remains fairly small, possessing a few burgers, and even fewer entrées. I appreciate their use of local seasonal ingredients, evident most when you order the same thing a second time and it comes out different than the first. The Rookery also deploys a rotating taps system, changing up their beers whenever a keg blows to keep things fresh and spontaneous. Craft beer fans will want to visit The Rookery at night every third Wednesday of each month, when The Rookery hosts their monthly Bottle Share event. Not only does The Rookery have a great location on the corner of the main intersection of Downtown Pomona, but guests can find free parking just a block away (the lot adjacent to The Rookery costs a minimal fee). For a great space, The Rookery has great potential to turn into a thriving business, which may include a larger menu, more beer taps, and the installation of a much-needed POS system.

3. Tavern On 2

I love to watch the evolution of local establishments. New businesses mostly start out small, and with the growing fan base, the business must grow too. When Tavern On 2 finally unveiled the doubling of their dining area, business boomed for them, as expected. One of two gastropubs in Belmont Shore (the other one counts as a chain), Tavern On 2 understands their loyal customers, and constantly adapts to the changing times of not only the local community, but to the frequent visitors from out of town. Those who have not visited Tavern On 2 within the past few months ought to return to gaze upon the new menu curated by Tavern On 2’s new chef. Many of the old favorites remain on the menu, such as their Oxtail Poutine, but Tavern On 2 now finally serves entrée dishes, such as a Pork Belly & Octopus dish. With this new menu in place that continues to add new dishes, customers old and new will love to explore the wonderful culinary creations churning out of this kitchen.

2. Beer Belly

If something does not fit in with the others, do you call it a black sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You probably answered black sheep… but what if the black sheep holds power over the herd? Enter Beer Belly, Koreatown’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. A random gastropub tucked away in the urban sprawl of Korean businesses, no one would believe a hidden gem like this exists in such a town. Once you discover it and venture inside, you will discover that you may fall in love with Beer Belly. For a place so small, Beer Belly offers a vast variety of not only food, but beer as well. Their reinvention of classic comfort food into a fine dining experience will leave you craving more. Remember to visit on a Sunday morning to check out their brunch menu, where they offer some dishes that only exist during this time.

1. The Factory Gastrobar

Never underestimate places off the beaten path – awesome things go on outside of the populated areas, and could potentially generate its own populated area. While many young adults love to frequent “downtown” anything, some other cool places exist sporadically around the city. The best places do not necessarily have to exist in populated areas – if a business does well enough, they will attract the crowds to them, much like how The Factory Gastrobar does each and every day. Located in the heart of the Bixby Knolls community of Long Beach, The Factory never sees a dull moment in the kitchen, in the dining area, or on the street out front. With a menu that changes based on the availability of seasonal ingredients, customers of The Factory never get bored of the food here. Add to that their beer and wine offerings that also constantly change based on the availability from suppliers, and you have a place where you can not experience the same thing twice ever. The Factory’s calendar includes various events, such as tap takeovers, special multi-course dinners, cooking classes, bottle shares, live music, and more. With The Factory, you always get a brand new experience!

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