Here & Now: LA’s Next Great Neighborhood Bar
“Our ultimate goal is that if someone chooses to sit at our bar they should be made to feel welcomed,” explains Here & Now’s co-owner Othón Nolasco, summing up the core ethos that permeates the new bar and restaurant located at the south end of the Arts District’s One Santa Fe building.
Here & Now is a labor of love. It is a place that has been meticulously crafted by three friends who take hospitality seriously, and a patron who saw potential in what these three had to offer.
Nolasco, along with Damian Diaz and Aaron Melendrez, were a trio of bartenders who helped make Everson Royce Bar on 7th street one of the most highly decorated bars in America, earning rave reviews from the likes of Time Out LA and Esquire.
“We were receiving a lot of accolades [for E.R.B.],” says Diaz, “and we asked each other, ‘Why don’t we do it for ourselves?’” So the trio reached out Sarah Meade, who had recently shut the doors of Westbound, a bar that had been warmly received but was closing after only a few years in operation. “She was three years too early,” says Nolasco. “The neighborhood hadn’t caught up to her yet.”
Meade had received numerous offers for her space and her liquor license but decided to take a chance on the bartenders. “She could have easily sold and walked away, but we asked her if we could meet for dinner, and there was just something special about that night. Our vision matched with hers,” says Nolasco. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Sarah. She really took a chance on us.”
Though Here & Now is still in its opening weeks, Meade’s instinct seems to have paid off. A major coup for any bar/restaurant is to be known as the place where other restaurant’s cooks and waitstaff head after a shift. Here & Now’s kitchen stays open until 1:30 am, and after other Arts District restaurants close they migrate over to Here & Now.
You can see the care and attention put into the details in the drink and food menu. The trio has dozens of years of bar experience between them and wanted the cocktails to reflect their deep knowledge of what makes a drink good. The drinks are, of course, outstanding, but the depth and experience that comes with each makes them all the more impressive. “Every drink has a story behind it,” says Nolasco. “Each one was carefully thought out to represent LA.”
When it comes to food they refer to Chef Geo Delgado, who oversees the excellent menu, crafting divine dishes such as the Here & Now Burger, Roasted Carrots & Shishitos and the Mushroom & Polenta plate.
“I knew that I wouldn’t be happy unless Chef Delgado was with us,” says Othon.
“This is a place where people can feel like they can come and interact with us,” says Delgado. “There are no egos. That’s the main reason why I came here. Having that great atmosphere really makes everything better.”
Here & Now is a bar and restaurant for today’s LA. It is modern with a classic sensibility and is welcome to all that walk through its doors.
Written by Abel Horwitz | Photography by GL Askew II