Inside Bernadette's: Your New Favorite Faux-Basement Beer Spot
At some point, no doubt, your younger self has thought, "screw it, I'm ditching the 9-to-5 grind and opening a bar."
Bernadette's in downtown L.A. is that bar, and the space is decked out just as you envisioned it: a stylish yet relaxed ode to midcentury drinking dens—replete with a Garfield phone and a satanic Nixon painting. Owner Jim VanBlaricum dubs his place "the dumbest bar in LA". "I don't have a good answer as to why," VanBlaricum told LAist during a recent visit, "but saying something is unpretentious is probably the most pretentious thing you can say."
Bernadette's has been in soft open mode for the last few weeks, with denizens of downtown and beyond stumbling in night after night and ordering up a round of on-tap craft beers. Sunday, May 7, marks the official grand opening, and will also see the debut of "Fleetwood Snack"—a beer and pastry brunch set to the dulcet tones of Stevie Nicks and other '70s jammers emanating from the turntable.
Bernadette's has been in the works for some time, now. VanBlaricum previously spent a few years slinging drinks from Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema and The Drink (R.I.P.). In 2014, the Santa Barbara native moved back to Southern California, and in early 2015 he took over the space on South Broadway near 4th Street. "I was also looking at Highland Park, but [at the time], it felt like Broadway was a few years from really blowing up." With the explosion of residential construction throughout downtown, the continued ascension of Grand Central Market as a culinary destination for Angelenos, and even the opening of several bars in a two-block radius of Bernadette's, VanBlaricum has been proven right.
Bernadette's serves a limited selection of bar snacks, as well as a rotating line-up of ciders, wine, and beer. Crowd Control Mild was recently on tap—a light, clean ale made in collaboration between the Bay Area's Magnolia Brewery and the local Eagle Rock Brewery. VanBlaricum also created his own michelada recipe, which a patron praised during our visit. "This michelada is f—king incredible," he said to himself and the entire bar at the same time. In the corner, an arcade machine with Tapper waits to entertain. And VanBlaricum notes that a series of weekly events is in the works. In the meantime, you'll find us at the bar with a dark porter in hand.