Happy Hour: $$
Far Bar - Gastropub with Asian flare.
347 East 1st Street
Sunday & Monday: 3:00 - Close
Tuesday-Friday: 3:00 - 7:00 P.M.
Downtown Los Angeles may be a neighborhood on its own, but it's the smaller districts that really set it apart from other boroughs in Los Angeles. One particular district that is overflowing with culture and flavor is Little Tokyo. With their own set of museums, shops, specialty food, and drinks, there is almost too much to explore. But a challenge well accepted by our team. We checked out one of the local favorites in the area and a bar that has stood the test of time- Far Bar.
Little Tokyo is a district in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles that is filled with culture. The Japanese Village Center gives the city a fusion of Japanese roots and staple American vibes. You can get anything from authentic Japanese foods to your basic almond lattes and alcoholic drinks at local bars.
It's a solid balance representing well the impact Japanese immigration holds in Los Angeles. And those local bars do a good job at honoring the early Japanese settlers in the area, at the center of that honor is Far Bar.
Located in the historic Far East Building for 11 years running, as their website states, "Far Bar is a place of fusion, but not compromise," and that couldn't be more on the money.
Google results will tell you this is a Gastropub. It's not wrong, but it does have that Asian flare. From the outside the traditional marquee of the Far East Building in the Japanese-like-font makes it look like it's only a Japanese themed bar, but it's so much more.
It's truly a neighborhood gem, adored by many locals, and it caters to the variety of residents in the Little Tokyo district.
The square footage of the place will shock you when you step in. They have: bar seating, communal tables, dinner tables, booths, an upstairs area, cocktail lounge in the back, AND a patio seating area with a giant projector for entertainment. They truly have ample seating, but be wary! The patio is a favorite among many patrons and fills up quickly.
The bar is favored by those watching a sports game, given the number of screens plastered in front of the bottles, Far Bar also caters to that crowd. However, the super, ultimately very cool thing about Far Bar is Happy Hour can be enjoyed anywhere in the restaurant/bar. Something Happy Hour City loves, is non-restricted Happy Hours!
Happy Hour at Far Bar goes on Tuesday - Friday from 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM. However, take advantage of their Day-Into-Night Sunday and Monday deals, when Happy Hour reigns from 3:00 PM - 2:00 AM. The place itself can get really packed on Fridays with people of all places and backgrounds. On Monday during our visit, we saw a meetup group of friends who were partying in onesies, all well in their mid-late twenties and early thirties. There were also the sports watchers and trendy hipsters on the patio.
The Happy Hour menu at Far Bar is more than a greatly priced evening out, it's also an example of their very strong core menu. It allows you to sample their cuisine while enjoying their craft cocktails and drinks at a discount price. There are plates to share and plates so good you won't want to share (Wasabi Fries.) The team took complete advantage of the menu and savored almost everything. Read on to see what we thought.
As previously stated by us and Far Bar themselves, Far Bar is a fusion but not a compromise, and this is greatly demonstrated across their food items on the Happy Hour Menu. They have the essential Japanese and Asian plates like Edamame, and Sushi, but also Tacos! Knowing DTLA's locals means you know people love their tacos, no matter the culture. We didn't get to try the Mings Wings but our waitress Hayley informed us they marinate for 24 hours. Hayley's favorite food items include, but are not limited to, the Wasabi Fries, Edamame, and Dumplings.
The cocktails are a deal you can't miss out on and the rotating beer and wines keep the menu fresh and the non-cocktail drinkers wanting more. And at $5/$6 who could only drink just one?
As for the house red, they usually serve up the typical Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Raymond R Collection wines, and for the white, they kept it simple with a Chardonnay from Simple Life. As we mentioned the beer rotates, and on the day of our visit they were serving a cider called Mighty Hops brewed by Golden State Cider. They do have the beer menu for you to see, but weekly they make about 1 or 2 changes, by the end of the month it's a complete overhaul.
The liquor they are actually using in these cocktails, at the price of $8, is a steal! Whereas other places may use their bottom shelf liquor for Happy Hour, Far Bar opted for quality throughout, a huge plus in our book. Hayley informed us that thought their whiskey changes constantly, they use Skyy vodka, Cruzan rum, Beefeater gin, and Altos tequila for their Well drinks.
The fusion is also well represented on the drink deals with the Sapporo and Sake shot combo, which is preferred by the bartender we interviewed during our visit- Zack. As far as cocktails go Zack says the Moscow Mule is a crowd favorite, but it's a close tie between that and the Old Fashioned. If you're not a straight liquor drinker like Mariana, the Bee's Knees is going to be your favorite.
Overall, the Happy Hour goers at Far Bar mostly order the Sapporo. Those here to eat will find it hard to pick, they're all crowd favorites but the Tofu Tacos tend to intimidate people the most. That being said, we tried them and the rest of the varied menu and here's what we thought.
Mariana ordered the French Martini
Given the fact that Mariana goes after the fruitier drinks at the table, her love for French culture, but her distaste for Vodka this was a gamble for her. But also a pleasant surprise! She was expecting something strong of the vodka, given her past experiences with Skyy she sipped it carefully, but enjoyed it.
The alcohol was at no point overpowering, the pineapple was evident, and the overall combo helped her welcome vodka back into her life after a long time away. That being said, despite the drink being delicious it is quite dangerous and definitely not something you want to drink to accompany dinner at Far Bar. Maybe something for after dinner or to accompany dessert.
Alex agreed, the drink is dangerous because you can't taste the alcohol. And for Xena's bitter preference, it was really sweet. Still, enjoyable and you definitely get what you ordered. It will probably seem attractive to a younger crowd.
Alex ordered the Bees Knees
The cocktail was perfect. It paired very well with the food, especially the dumplings. The simplicity of the ingredients didn't put the liquor in the spotlight, a pattern we noticed throughout all their cocktails.
They don't have a huge mix of ingredients that can sometimes intrigue but confuse someone. In our opinion, that simplicity and balance is what a well-balanced cocktail is all about.
Essentially, making this the drink Mariana wished she would have ordered. Whiskey drinkers will enjoy the classic Bee's Knees done right and enjoyable to drink for those afraid of the taste of liquor, like Mariana.
Alex also tried the Presbyterian
After indulging in her meal with the Bees Knees cocktail, Alex gave the Presbyterian a go. Her honest opinion was that it was slightly too peated.
The menu advertises it with Ginger Ale, but in all honesty, it could have used more, it was very light on Ginger Ale.
Which essentially, didn’t add flavor but enhanced the peatiness in the scotch. That said, this is a lighter whiskey drink which would go well with the food if you enjoy a nice scotch.
Xena ordered the Boulevardier
For those with a taste for something less sweet but more bitter, this is the drink for you. A solid balance between both taste notes allows sippers of the drink to enjoy this.
Our only recommendation would be, as with the French Martini, to order this post the meal because it doesn't pair well. The Campari and the Sweet Vermouth, once again, do their job to make a killer combo and not let the Wild Turkey show off too much.
Mariana agreed, if it was between this and the Old Fashioned she'd be able to stomach this better. Alex compared it to a Manhattan with a little less strength and also recommended it as a digestif.
The HHC Team Ordered and Shared:
The Garlic Edamame
Mariana is a huge fan of Edamame, this healthy snack at a bar, has replaced her unhealthy obsession with chips and salsa. She blames her raising in Texas for that, but no matter because she discovered Edamame. Not really a fan of the garlic, she gave this a whirl, and though it is great and Edamame is hard to mess up... The overload of garlic was unnecessary... Definitely not something you want to eat on a date.
Crispy Chicken Dumplings
Perhaps a little too on the crispy side for some, but just right for others! The traditional dish was divided equally among our team and we enjoyed it! They're a good size for 3 people to have 2 each. If you really like them though, for $5 order 6 more!
These were so exciting to try for Mariana because she has never had Tofu! *GASP* She loved it! Maybe because it's deep fried, but either way, the flavor, the sauce, the cabbage, made a great mix. It resembled fish tacos to her in a sense, perhaps it was the cabbage- not a complaint!
Alex and Xena agreed they were flavorful, they have a crunch, which breaks down the stereotype of soggy Tofu, and the sweet/spicy sauce complimented it very well.
As DTLA locals the team came to the conclusion that trying these would be something new, given that the other taco options are pretty common throughout different establishments. Don't be afraid of these simply because of Tofu! Definitely a deliciously healthy vegetarian (not vegan!) meal.
The buns on these beauties were so soft, like a Brioche, that you could tell where your fingers landed upon grabbing one. On the bottom bun, there are cut up pieces of pineapple, a great nod to Japanese-Hawaiian style cuisine, which Xena enjoyed.
Alex noted the meat was cooked a perfect medium, and the lettuce wasn't hanging out all over the place. These sliders were Mariana's favorite, the Teriyaki sauce + pineapple combo really put them over the top. She was shocked to learn from bartender Zack, that people usually order the regular Cheeseburger Sliders.
California Sushi Rolls
When Mariana ordered these she asked our waitress, Hayley, how big they were. She said they were small and if we were sharing we would definitely need two.
That was not true, 8 pieces are more than enough for 2 people given the amount of food we ordered thereafter. Point is they are very shareable.
That being said, much like the Edamame, these classic rolls are hard to mess up. They were done right, with fresh ingredients, the rice was cooked perfectly and they were thoroughly enjoyed by our team.
These were stellar! And definitely a crowd favorite. If you can get over the carbs, order this instead of the Edamame.
The Wasabi should also not frighten you if you're not into spicy (Mariana), in the Aoili form it is actually super docile and yummy! Add some ketchup for your basic fries, but try them as they come first!
The Overall Experience
We had a great meal and drinks at Far Bar, the portions of the food were generous, the drinks were well balanced, and the prices were stellar. We had to ask for water a few times but it was a busy night, this is probably because Happy Hour goes all night on Mondays.
The restaurant was filled with people that were definitely there for dinner, the bar had locals, and patrons enjoying drinks with coworkers, and hosting that mini-event we mentioned earlier (the Onesies crowd). Which just goes to show how beloved Far Bar is in the neighborhood.
Given that they are in a historic building, the inside itself has a little wear and tear but that sort of adds to its authenticity. Like we said, it's been on the block for a while. The space overall is so enormous, that was a really nice surprise. We didn't want to occupy Hayley's table too long, so to enjoy our after dinner drinks we moved on back to the Cocktail Lounge in the back where we got to talk to Zack and discovered the patio. If you wander back there- ask Zack to make you his choice of drink, he likes making drinks people have never tried before!
It was dark and our flash may have interrupted some meals, so we did not take too many pictures, but in between the front, the upstairs, and the back there certainly is room for people here.
Overall Score: 3.8/5
Happy Hour Score: 4.1/5
We would like to thank Zack and Hayley for taking the time to speak to us and being wonderful staff. Far Bar has earned its spot in the Little Tokyo district and they have 11 years to show for it.
There were no bad surprises, and we certainly hope they keep at it for another 11 years. Thanks for reading and as always...