At first glance, Spring St. Bar seems like your average, unpretentious, no-frills neighborhood bar. The decor is nonexistent, there are two TVs, and the only thing decorating the bar is the liquor bottles.
It's located on Spring Street, between 7th and 6th streets in the heart of downtown. In fact, if you don't live in the immediate neighborhood, you'd probably pass the bar without giving it a second glance.
But this place has 26 beers on tap, and it has serious sandwiches.
The bar is owned by the Acme Bar Group, the same guys who brought you Library Bar, Laurel Tavern and Sixth St. Bar, is affordable any time of day. Some wines are priced at $7 a glass, and most beers go for $5 or $6. -- and cheaper sips are poured every day from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., its happy hour.
Manager Leo Rivas selects two draft beers, each priced at $4. Well drinks are $5, and house wines are $6. The happy hour selections are posted on a small blackboard behind the bar. Rivas also makes a beer cocktail based on whatever bottles he has in excess, and prices it at $9.
The bar's front windows open up to a small patio area, and the high tables are packed daily with people sitting elbow to elbow, ice-cold mugs of beer in hand after a long day's work.
Some are dressed in suits, others who live or work in the building upstairs or next door are more casually dressed in jeans. Almost all of them are sinking their teeth into a sandwich.
There are no food specials for happy hour, but the $7 bowl of chili is hard to beat, and the $9 sandwiches are large enough to share.
Greg Bernhardt (formerly at Church and State and Ludo Bites) oversees all of the food production for the Acme Bar Group, but each of the Spring St. Bar sandwiches is made by a single man at the far corner of the bar. He works using a couple feet of counter space and a toaster oven.
The 10 sandwiches on the menu are made on soft and chewy sesame-seed-dotted rolls from Extea bakery in Culver City. The bar takes the same approach with its sandwiches as it does with the decor: thoughtful and simple.
The turkey and smoked mozzarella comes with arugula, sweet roasted tomatoes, slivers of cucumber and pickled onions; the Hot Italiana is packed with mortadella, Genoa salami, spicy capicola, prosciutto, provolone and Giardiniera peppers; and the Pedro Special is a mouthful with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, thousand island dressing and spicy peppers.
Each sandwich is served with a quinoa and cucumber salad, potato salad or a bag of chips.
The chili, called Manny's chili, after an ex-employee who came up with the recipe, comes in a bowl full of pork, bacon, red and pinto beans and a hint of chipotle. It is topped with hot white onions and shreds of Tillamook cheddar cheese. It's enough for a meal and served with toasted disks of the sesame bread.
626 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, (213) 622-5859, springstla.com/
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