Happy Hour: $
La Cita- Cantina Bar
336 S Hill St.
Monday - Saturday: Inside bar 11:00 - 9:00 PM
Tuesday - Friday: Patio bar 4:00 - 9:00 PM
Monday: All Day
Saturday: 2:00 - 9:00 PM
Despite the fact that DTLA is going through some massive changes some neighborhood staples have managed to pass the test of time and gentrification. Located at the bottom of Bunker Hill, an area which was once the city's Red Light District, La Cita is a bar/cantina that will forever represent the Hispanic roots of Downtown.
Downtown has a variety of immigrants that set foot here and have seen the neighborhood grow. Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Fashion and Jewelry districts, have all brought their own sort of flavor to Downtown shaping it into the diverse center it is today. La Cita is a place where you breathe and drink Spanish. The music is loud, the lights are low, and the drinks are strong. The inside bar opens early at 11 AM and the dance floor holds some of the most enjoyable live music we have ever witnessed. To put it simply, have you ever walked into a bar and thought I have been here before… but you’re a little fuzzy as when exactly? This is the feeling we got when we walked into La Cita.
La Cita is located in the Historic Core of DTLA. It’s right next to Grand Central Market and across the street from the historic landmark of Angels Flight. GCM just celebrated its 100th birthday, so it goes to show- if locals and tourists visit there often, you’ll wonder into La Cita, and if it’s Happy Hour you’re in for a great time. What is truly special about this bar is its authenticity yet variety. Upon walking in, you see the main bar. It is lit only by decorative fairy/Christmas lights—giving it a true cantina aesthetic. To the left, there is a divider between the bar and the big dance floor and stage. The divider was highly appreciated because people are really getting down on the floor. So the divider nicely allows for patrons to enjoy a seat at the bar without having a crowd of happily drunk dancers bumping into them. Though we had to admit, the dancing is contagious.
If you keep going back, you will find ample space to sit and rest your feet between songs. Like we mentioned, it is dimly lit, which gives this section of La Cita a very intimate feel. If you meet someone special on the dance floor, this is a good place to cozy up. However, if you walk even further—passed the bathrooms—you’ll enter El Patio, where it really goes down.
El Patio is where it’s at. On Moist Mondays you can grind to old school hip hop and R&B and enjoy all night Happy Hour specials. It also has Hip Hop Hour on Wednesdays, Rockabilly Happy Hour on Thursdays, and Angry Hour on Fridays for Punk Rock/Metal tunes. See? VARIETY. You can also smoke on El Patio. There is always something going on at La Cita, both inside and in El Patio. And more importantly, there is something for everyone.
As far as food, La Cita is not trying to be anything but a true cantina. They hold neighborhood potlucks for special occasions such as the Superbowl. Aside from that, they aren’t operating with any food whatsoever. So when visiting, just be ready to drink like we did. But it’s always a good idea to grab something to eat around the area if you’re drinking on an empty stomach. We suggest hitting up GCM, where the options are endless.
We hung out with Rommel in El Patio and he gave us the lowdown on all the drink specials for the day. Generally speaking however, their Happy Hour Menu is as follows:
$3 Tecate (Available in draft) & Domestic beers
$4 Imported beers
$5 Draft beers
$5 Tecaterita (Tecate in a big Margarita)
$5 Well drinks
$8 Margaritas/Bloody Marys/Micheladas
The drinks are strong and made well. The professional way that Rommel has made simple drinks with his whole life proves that he loves what he does. That being said let's dive right into what we ordered.
Mariana ordered a Margarita:
The Margarita at La Cita is simple… as all Margaritas should be, and it’s delicious.
They use fresh lime juice and their well tequila—which is a personal favorite of ours: El Jimador.
By fresh lime juice we mean FRESH they literally sit there and juice the fresh lime into the glass.
If you’re a pro you know this is a good ‘rita. Maybe too sour for some, but you don't come to La Cita to drink light.
Alex ordered a Bloody Mary:
The one thing we have to talk about in regards to La Cita’s Bloody Mary/Marias is the expertise in which they make them.
Ingredients include: fresh squeezed lime juice, Worcester sauce, Tapatio, Old Bay seasoning, Clamato, their own Bloody Mary mix, and well vodka with salt rim.
You can tell it's not just a good Bloody Mary, but also a real Bloody Mary. It has the right amount of spice, not the heat type of spice that burns the roof of your mouth, but the flavor of spice.
They take pride and joy and have truly perfected the classic "Hangover cocktail". If you come in on Sunday for Bloody Sunday, you will find—what we are going to go ahead and deem—the best Bloody Mary bar in DTLA.
The olives and cocktail onions you see garnished here are what the traditional Marys come with—but on Sunday Bloody Sundays, you’ll find a bunch of other options like cocktail shrimp.
Also a tip: the bartender will add the traditional Tabasco sauce to the spice level of your choosing! We asked him to make it mild. Rommel nailed it.
Alex also had the Bonanza Brown Ale:
This delicious ale is from the brewery Tenaya Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not usually a beer drinker, Alex gave this a shot and absolutely loved it!
This malty brown ale with dark amber hues tastes like light chocolate with subtle hints of oak.
Most dark beers are usually too heavy, this is much smoother, creamy, but light and refreshing.
Xena had the Michelada:
Xena may know a lot about wine, but she also knows a great Michelada when she sees one and she saw this one coming a mile away.
The Michelada at La Cita has the right amount of Tecate beer. It balances out great with the rest of the ingredients. Those ingredients are: fresh squeezed lime juice, Worcester sauce, Old Bay seasoning, Clamato, Tapatio and beer.
It’s definitely not too spicy, this is Xena's hangover drink. It delivers vitamins and electrolytes while getting you drunk and there's nothing better than a healthy way to get drunk. Even the presentation is cute!
The HHC Team shared Bandera Shots:
Rommel let us in on a little secret… If you come here enough you will see this three shot concoction that’s being served.
Yet, it isn’t advertised anywhere. That’s because it is part of his secret menu—the existence of which shows this bar has a lot of regulars. This is important because a lot of regulars means a bar has got a good thing going.
Anyway, this Bandera shot translates into a “Flag” shot due to its resemblance to the Mexican flag. First you drink the freshly squeezed lime juice, then you knock back the tequila, and finally chase it with Clamato. It’ll put hair on your chest.
Just a warning, don’t take too many if you are a lightweight. They are incredibly addicting and get you buzzed quick.
The Overall Experience:
La Cita isn't trying to be anything then what it's been since day 1. You go there to get drunk for cheap and have a great time. Despite the fact that the surrounding neighborhood is changing, La Cita stays true to it's roots and that's why we love it. If loud people, music, and overall joy bother you- don't come here. If you're ready for a party, this is a great place. La Cita is something of a reminder that home exists in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
La Cita has been given numerous awards by LA Weekly and other Los Angeles publications. They damn well deserve it. The constant keep up with live music and some red carpet events prove that La Cita is not just a bar. It’s a venue and a must see when visiting DTLA if you want something authentic, fun, and comfortable.
You can stumble into La Cita on any night of the week and find something going on inside, outside or both. The regulars are friendly. This is the people’s bar. And no one is more friendly than Rommel.
Rommel’s knowledge of everything local in DTLA and Hollywood is how he starts most his conversations with his patrons. The man knows how to entertain. Don’t be surprised if you see him chatting up with everyone at the bar yet still somehow managing to get everyone’s drinks just right. He can handle his business as well as cleaning up empty glasses around El Patio. He does it all and Happy Hour City couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful host.
Overall Score: 4.2/5
Happy Hour Score: 4.4/5
La Cita stands out above the rest thanks to its daily Happy Hour specials. They agree with us with the saying, every hour is Happy Hour.
They certainly make sure it’s a good time for everyone involved. When you’re outside it feels almost like you’re hanging out on a friend’s patio. Which brings us full circle to our first favorite thing about La Cita: it feels like home.
If you're in the area and want to have a taste of DTLA you won't find anywhere else, stop in! Thanks for reading and as always...