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It's All About the Beer: Bellying Up to the Bar at Mohawk Bend

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With over 70 craft beers on tap, a former movie theatre as a space, and plenty of veggie and vegan dishes on their largely locally-sourced menu, Mohawk Bend earned its rep as Echo Park's food/drink scene and be seen spot before they even opened. Recently, we headed back to taste drive the food and drinks, and agree that when it comes to light bites and beer (beer, beer!) Mohawk Bend really delivers.

It's noisy, it's crowded, it's 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, and everyone is mouthing the words to an old Flaming Lips song. Bodies are three deep in the narrow aisle between a row of tables and the bar, where an impressive bank of brew taps wait patiently beneath a glow of purplish light. You might have to yell your order, if you're here for just a beer, but the selection is worth the shouting. Pliny the Elder, perhaps, or a Smoked Porter or Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale? Quaff to your heart's content.

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Trio of spreads with flatbread (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
If you've snagged a seat, hopefully you've brought some friends with whom you can divvy up a handful of really successful appetizers and lighter bites. Mix-n-match dips and spreads served with wedges of fluffy pita bread get things going well, as will a fire-roasted whole artichoke that comes with a pair of palate pleasing aioli. Salads are a thing of beauty at Mohawk Bend, making the most of local, seasonal produce and adaptable to vegan palates as well--a boon for the area clientele. The "Keenwah" not only helps you pronounce the protein-carb wonder grain quinoa, but will leave you satisfied but not weighed down.

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Further down the menu, the heavier the fare. Their unconventional burgers (like the "Dork," which marries ground duck and pork in its thick patty), overreach--busybodies of several ingredients piled onto dense "buns" that unfortunately drew theoretical comparisons to pioneer-era wagon travelin' bread. The pizzas have inspiring ingredient combos, but, like in the case of the "Pig Newton," the full-coverage blanket of Serrano ham that separated immediately from its bready base was a bit much.

The shining stars here on the savory side of the menu are those that are veggie or vegan. For those who avoid animal products in their diet, a dinner at Mohawk Bend may provide a welcome break in a routine of seeking out menu items that fit your dietary needs, since they are available there in abundance.

Dessert was completely vegan, and, sadly, not a win for this non-vegan (partly to blame was the lack of a proper freezer for MB to store the regularly-stocked sorbet or ice creams that would have softened the blow of their fruit crostata or iron skillet cookie). It's not that desserts weren't wholly satisfying because they were vegan, they just happened to be vegan desserts that weren't very tasty. It may take a better vegan s'mores to win me over, I'm afraid. Vegans--you may be in hog(less) heaven with these desserts, and I salute you, but I'll pass.

No matter your meat-eating philosophy, what's best about Mohawk Bend (besides the beer) is their commitment to Californian ingredients. Add in the high ceilings and brick walls of a former theatre (sit all the way in the back, if you can) and dining in Echo Park is definitely more dynamic.