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Mom's Bar & Lounge: The "Classy Dive"

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By Lindsay Armstrong/Special to LAist

Dive bar is used to describe all types of places: from hole in the walls serving cans of light beer out of a dusty Styrofoam cooler to joints with valet parking and velvet rope. Plenty have called Mom's Bar & Lounge a dive bar. But don't look for bottles of Bud Light before breakfast at this West LA hangout. While the bar has managed to maintain cheap drinks, an eclectic crowd and dim interior, updates like the addition of an intimate lounge area lend an upscale edge while remaining true to the spirit of an old-school dive.

“I guess you could call it a 'classy dive,'” says bartender, Todd Bjurstrom. “But, it's definitely not your grandfather's dive bar.”

Bjurstrom has been bartending at Mom's since it opened in early December and, like most of their bartenders, knows most of the regulars by name - many of whom have been drinking at the same spot for over 20 years, back when the bar was Del's Saloon.

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While stories from Del's still abound, a remodel has only spared the long, hardwood bar and the back bar. Taking a cue from the Backstage in Culver City--which has the same owner and management--the space has been revamped to include a new pool table, dance floor, and plenty of space for large groups and parties. Mom's also has a Ms. Packman arcade table and a jukebox stocked with a diverse mix of soul, indie, and classic rock (think Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Arcade Fire, Cee Lo next to Blondie and Talking Heads). Like the Backstage, the bar also has karaoke (Wednesday and Sunday). And although the kitchen from Del's was torn out in the remodel, Mom's regularly books Food Trucks like Jersey Grub (a no-apologies, no-calories-barred truck featuring a taste of the east coast) just feet from the front door.

Although prices are low and the pours are generous, the selection of beer and booze appeals to both seasoned barflies and novices alike. The Crisp Martini stands out as a smooth cocktail of gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and key lime juice for a slightly tart finish. Also worth a taste is the Paloma, a mix of tequila, lime juice, with splashes of grapefruit juice and soda on the rocks. For those with a sweet tooth, the menu also has Mom's Apple Pie and the Chocolate Milkshake, which each taste like the real thing. During their daily Happy Hour, the already-low drink prices all drop $1, and the bartenders break out the homemade kettle chips (which are highly addictive--you've been warned).

So is Mom's technically a dive bar? A retro lounge? Both?

As the owner, Ben, points out: “our main goal is cheap fun.” And when the customer is happy, that makes Mom's happy, too.

Happy Hour: 7 Days a Week, 365 Days a Year - 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.