It probably wasn't necessary to hit two bars in one night last night, and having a vodka gimlet at the first and a Manhattan at the second surely violates all strict rules of not mixing your alcohols. But despite having only one drink at each place, the cocktails hit us as about as hard as the La Conchita avalanche.
First we stopped by Cha Cha on Glendale Blvd., which has a happy hour from 5-8 with well drinks for $2.50. The gimlet looked small and harmless, as though they were making half-sized drinks for half price, but it snuck up on me. Cha Cha is the latest late night hotspot, apparently, and it certainly offers an alternative to the Red Lion across the street. It's as if they bought all of Olvera street, backed up a truck to the former Le Bar space, and dumped all the gaudy decor inside -- the ceiling is festooned with sombreros, velvet paintings, Day of the Dead Puppets et al. There's several giant-sized round booths -- it's not really a space for couples to canoodle, but rather for groups of partiers -- a few foosball tables, and a thatched tiki bar manned by a Strokes-clone bartender playing David Bowie's "Scary Monsters" in its entirety. Fortunately at 7:30, no one remotely fashionable is on hand yet, and it's a pleasant enough place for a cheap drink. But is it really necessary that they already sell trucker hats emblazoned with their logo?
Then it was on to Taylor's for some actual sustenance. We settled into the corner of the tiny mezzanine bar and ordered a Manhattan and a vodka tonic, a hamburger for Matt, and a Molly salad and the London Broil appetizer for me. The bar was laid with white tablemats and napkins, all very civilized. Much sports and car talk transpired among the regulars next to us, eventually moving on to the futility of relationships. It could have been 1950, except the guy's girlfriend kept calling him on his cell wondering when he would be back for dinner.
I loved the Molly salad, even with its overload of blue cheese dressing. Sometimes iceberg lettuce and good blue cheese is really all you need. The London Broil ($11.95) was also perfect, since I'm really not a big steak eater and get very intimidated by any normal-sized steak. It was three good-sized slices of tender steak with a slightly pungent horseradish/sour cream sauce -- just the right size, and excellent with a Manhattan. Matt liked his hamburger plenty ($10.95 with fries), and we left full and very happy. I don't know who said Taylor's drinks were small, because that Manhattan packed a pretty mean punch.