Happy Hour: $
The Escondite- Dive Bar
410 Boyd St.
Monday: All Day Happy Hour
Tuesday-Friday: 5:00 - 8:00 P.M.
If you’ve been around DTLA long enough you may have wondered what businesses there might be on the outer edges of Skid Row, you’d be surprised to know that among these usually ignored areas, there are some of the best restaurants, bars, and shops LA has to offer. They’re just a little off the beaten path. For example, Poppy and Rose, is in the Flower District but with a 0.5 mile radius from 6th and Maple Ave which is whereabouts Skid Row begins, then there’s one of the most popular restaurants in DTLA, Yxta Cocina Mexicana. They’re located where the Arts District meets Skid Row. There are also a number of breweries and bars who have been around for years; we stumbled upon a local favorite, it’s such a hidden gem- we feel guilty even telling you about their Happy Hour.
The Escondite literally translates into “The Hideout,” it’s a dive bar beloved by the neighborhood which is why we chose to feature it as our first review for the Dive Bars Edition. You can see that from the name, they are a bar mostly frequented by locals. They have given themselves the geographical location of “Skidrowkyo,” due to their proximity with both Skid Row and Little Tokyo. Getting to the bar won’t be a happy ride if you have never been to DTLA nor Skid Row. The sights are jarring and damn near depressing. It should encourage you to help do something about the homeless situation, but we will leave that to your discretion. As for the bar itself, it’s tucked away in a well hidden intersection (our Uber could barely find us) where the sights of Skid Row won’t cloud your judgement.
It’s in a colorful building and through an unassuming door you can step inside. To your immediate left there is a stage for live music, which no good dive bar is complete without it, so props for that. Since the bar is long, there is plenty of room for everyone. There are also booths aligning the right that continue on all the way to the back of the restaurant. The walls are decorated with old western movie pictures and drawings, to be quite honest it reminded Mariana a lot of Austin, Texas.
You can choose to stay indoors or you can venture to a door on your right, after the first set of booths. It may seem like you’re exiting into a parking lot but there’s a little patio/covered area that really took us by surprise. In our opinion this tucked away wooden area is the hideout. This is where you can come get away and enjoy yourself a few drinks over a fire. Yes, a fire! Also featuring a gorgeous view of the city, the window from which you can see the skyline quite literally makes it look like a painting.
The tables are new, they come with a fire pit in the middle, decorated with fire resistant glass in form of rocks. They were still getting used to them when we reviewed, so it took Victoria (our bartender) a candle and a few tries to get it lit. Once the fire was roaring, we were ready to order.
The Happy Hour at The Escondite only further proves that this is a full on dive bar, it has dive bar drinks, and dive bar food. On Mondays you can enjoy their Happy Hour specials all day long, something we love because there is very little to do around here on a Monday. Then, it’s 5:00-8:00 PM Tuesday-Friday. But they have nightly specials such as Tequila and Taco Tuesday, Whiskey Wednesdays, and Triple Threat Thursdays all starting at 9 PM. On Saturday nights you can catch some of that live music we mentioned, no cover! Happy Hour is served throughout the entire restaurant so there is no restrictions on where to sit, just make yourself comfortable and get ready to drink and eat!
Dive bar food, per our opinion, is usually deep fried, greasy, fat and carbs loaded delicacies that can cure any hangover. That’s exactly what the Escondite is offering. Their foods are served in red baskets with their signature checkered food paper, and each dish is loaded with flavor. The drinks are also very dive bar-y, a simple offering of some house wines, well drinks, and canned beer sums up the Happy Hour selection pretty well.
Unfortunately, none of their cocktails made the cut, which is a shame since that was the one aspect we were truly curious about. Well, the drinks are… self-describing as you’ll see on Alex’s portion of the review. The Escondite definitely doesn’t like to over complicate things and sometimes what some of us need is a good back to basics bar, but we still think they should include a cocktail or two for Happy Hour.
That being said, these Special Editions of our reviews will be kept short and sweet, given the circumstances, our two different scores will from now on relate the overall experience + the Happy Hour itself, starting with the Escondite.
Mariana ordered the Chardonnay:
This white wine is a Pepperwood Grove from Napa Valley, CA.
It is not served in a wine glass and thus it was hard for me to judge whether it was a fair pour or not. It didn’t seem fair, but for the price ($4) and quality of the wine, I guess it makes sense.
It certainly did not make me want to order another, and unfortunately, as far as house wines go that’s all they have for Happy Hour.
Alex ordered a Well Whiskey with Coke:
The closest thing you’ll get to a cocktail on this Happy Hour is their single well drinks for $4.
Once again, we are keeping this one short because, there isn’t much to say. It’s well whiskey with coke, if you don’t know what that tastes like you’re probably not 21 and shouldn’t be on this website to begin with.
Served in the same glass as Mariana’s wine, we only grew more curious as to what their cocktails look like, but alas…
Anyway, let’s move on to the food portion.
The HHC Team Shared:
As for the food portion of the Happy Hour, they offer a discount on all their appetizers, so we took advantage given the lack of options on the drinks side of things. We ordered just about everything* they had to offer.
Teriyaki Steak Tips
Mariana's favorite thing on the appetizer menu were these filet steak tips served on a toasted garlic bread. They were cooked to a tender perfection and the bread was fresh.
Not sure what the herb sprinkled on top exactly was but it didn't add or take away from the flavor, a garnish perhaps.
Boneless BBQ Chicken Wings
Just an FYI we did not opt for boneless, that's how they come... We did, however, opt for Chipotle vs. Buffalo.
Not too spicy, not too sweet, a good middle balance of the flavors. However, they were drowned in the sauce, it was just a little bit of a overkill. We hope it was just this batch.
Mariana still ate all of them because the sauce was absolutely delicious. If you do get these, bring a wet wipe or 30.
Alex loves pickles, she has them at every bar we frequent, and her opinion on these were that they tasted a bit too battered on the outside.
Instead of the nice crispy and crunchy bite she was expecting, the batter made them taste a bit too cakey, and pickle flavored cake does not sound appealing.
It's paired with a sweet and sour dipping sauce that doesn't really add anything to it and doesn't take away from it either. We preferred them with the ranch we took from the wings.
Beef and Chicken Tacos
The tacos had a generous amount of ingredients, they weren't by any means small or skimped on. The spicy sauce however, we didn't see necessary, it really threw off the taste.
The tortillas were a little on the hard side by the time we got to them, so perhaps eat these right as they are served. That being said, it was very cold for LA that night and we blame the weather for that.
Mariana is sensible to spiciness, it is not her jam at all, and these Buffalo Mushrooms made her eyes water.
If burning the roof of your mouth is the kind of spicy you're into, by all means order these, but if you're not stay away.
We were only able to handle eating 2 of these, and had to drown them in ranch. Granted, Alex isn't the biggest fan of mushrooms.
Chilli Cheese Fries (w/o the Cheese) and Gravy Cheese Fries
So the Chili Fries originally come with Chili Cheese, unfortunately, Mariana does not do dairy. Therefore she ordered them without; much to her liking they were delicious. Another reminder of the bar food back in Austin, TX. Alex had the Gravy Cheese Fries and unfortunately they did not blow us away. The gravy was too simple and not very flavorful; for lack of a better term we are calling the Gravy, basic.
The three cheese Grilled Cheese is definitely something you gotta eat right off the grill. Don't make the mistake of waiting too long. or you'll miss the jalapenos and bacon pieces inside of it.
It's accompanied by a marinara sauce, which was not to our liking, we preferred the Grilled Cheese by itself.
The Overall Experience:
If dive bars and bar food are your jam this is the place for you. The Escondite is the hideout for a reason, they personally know the crowds that come into their bar. It is a very homey place to be. Dive bars are meant to feel intimate, affordable, and like you might make a bad decision later on the night. They are also, however, meant to make you want to come back. They welcome anyone with open arms that took the time to find them, and if you frequent here enough you'll see familiar faces.
It's a great neighborhood hangout in a part of town that doesn't get too many compliments, but to us that's the great thing about it. DTLA is changing everyday and the Skid Row area behind the majestic skyline gets overlooked because it's too real; it's almost like staring the ugly truth in the face. If you frequent businesses in the area, you'll begin to care about it's surroundings. If anything, we hope this encourages people to stop staring and start acting.
The Escondite does a fantastic job of catering to the locals with their prices, home cooked bar food, and live entertainment. It caters to outsiders by bringing them down to Earth a bit. It's a humbling place that we loved visiting. As for their Happy Hour, we think it could use some updates and additions, but that's one opinion of a very beloved bar. So, come by and check them out for brunch on the weekends, or lunch during the day, or Happy Hour if you dig what you see. We're planning to come back for live music nights and some more steak tips.
(*)Mariana does not eat dairy.
Overall Score: 4/5
Happy Hour Score: 3/5
We'd like to thank Victoria and her staff for taking great care of us, lighting our fires during a chilly February night, and being great hosts. If you find the Escondite, grab a table on the patio and hang back with the great view of the LA skyline. Thanks for reading and as always...