If you’ve been around for a bit, you might remember Crabby Joe’s, the bar on the Skid Row side of Main Street, (sometimes called ‘Pain Street’), where you could stop in for a nightcap, a drug deal, even a fist fight if you felt like it. Then the police dropped the curtain in 2007.
Last year, the neighborhood bar that Main Street lost was replaced with the neighborhood bar it needed all along—Wendell, a cozy, old-school rock and roll joint with all the right charm.
The bar gets its name from the late mutual friend of the four owners, Wendell Green, who opened up some of the city’s most legendary rock bars. Wendell the man was a no-frills drinker, and Wendell the bar holds a similar motto: keep it simple. They’re best at the standard canon of cocktails—there’s nothing too fancy behind the counter, but if you know what you want, they’ll figure it out. It might even be better than you expected.
The craft beers on tap are about as local as it gets, roughly ranging from Angel City to Coronado. It’s a familiar selection, but it’s hard as nails. And what fun is a beer without a hot dog? Try the Chicago Lawnmower, an LA take on the classic Chicago dog—with all the traditional toppings fixed up in a salsa, so you won’t lose half of them whenever you take a bite. See? Wendell’s already looking out for you, and you’ve barely even met.
Although it’s a new bar, Wendell is one of the places that marks the upturn of downtown. It’s a stake in the ground, claiming one small space for the character of the neighborhood, with less of the old school danger. Already, the crowd is largely regulars. There are new faces almost every weekend, and then they become regulars too.