Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.

(1959) Red Lion Tavern, Silverlake

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red lion signRed Lion Tavern today. According to the website it started as a British pub, and became German in the ’60s. I haven’t eaten much German food, but seem to remember liking what I have eaten.

When I walked in it was almost too dark to see, but the waitress/bartender (I think I’ll just call her the barmaid, that’s sort of what she was dressed as, and while she brought the food she seemed to spend most of her time behind the bar, and I like the word “barmaid”) called out in a cheery way that I could sit anywhere.

-I’d heard that upstairs was very different so I checked it out first, and it was–a bright beer garden with a sky light and lots of loud people who all seemed to be sitting together and being drunk and discussing the world in a merrily. It felt like crashing a party, and I scuttled back down to the cozy quieter darkness.

-Wood-panelled walls, so dark brown they were almost black; dark green leather booths and chairs, beer steins everywhere, lots of oil paintings of a sort I just think of as German. Over the bar is a model of Clydesdales pulling a cart of barrels.

-I sat in a booth near a stained-glass window, the sort with round pieces that look like the bottoms of bottles. My eyes adjusted pretty quickie, and the window gave me enough light to read by.

red lion sign2-A couple guys with German accents sat at the bar happily conversing with the barmaid and each other. At one point a guy with a British accent came down the stairs and greeted them jovially, explaining he was staying upstairs where he was getting a free drink. German guy: “I’m sorry for your bird.” British guy: “I’m sorry for my bird too, but it got me a free drink, so…” Later, while I was upstairs in the ladies’ room, I heard from the beer garden the same British guy giving a drunken speech about how the ghost of the chicken would be haunting his kitchen. And that’s all I know of the story.

-I got bratwurst and sauerkraut and German potato salad, because I figured I might as well get German food. Also I got a pretzel because there are few things I love as much as a big soft-baked pretzel. The bratwurst was fantastic, especially dipped in spicy mustard. The sauerkraut was good but a little went a long way. The potato salad reminded me a of cold mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the taste but didn’t find myself going back for a third bite. The pretzel was perfection.

-The barmaid was awesome. I really liked her. She was pretty and funny and and made everyone in the room happy. Or they could have been happy already, but that’s what it seemed like.

-While I was eating, two old men came in who looked a lot like the old men muppets from the Muppet Show and blinked in the dim light.  When the barmaid greeted them, one said, “I can hear you but I can’t see anything!” and one of the bar guys yelled, “That’s because sound travels faster than light!!” and then laughed for a long, long time.

-There was a piano, so I guess there’s music in the evenings? That’s probably very nice for people who like to hear singing while they eat. If I had to choose someplace to listen to music during dinner, I’d probably want someplace just like this.

Loved the food, but felt very sleepy after I ate it. I think if I went there with friends we’d probably sit and talk for hours and hours and feel comfortable and good the whole time.

What I Ate: Bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad, pretzel

What I Read: “Death of a Demon” by Rex Stout, second in a collection of stories about private detective Nero Wolfe and his marvelous assistant Archie.

What Sort of Ghost I’d Expect to Find if I Believed in Ghosts Which I do Not: A poltergeist who likes knocking over beer steins, but seldom gets around to it because he feels so soothed by raucous laughter.

2366 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039

One thought on “(1959) Red Lion Tavern, Silverlake

  1. Ohh, I got to go to the Red Lion a few times with my German coworker. I ate my weight in spatzle and filled in the edges with more beer than I care to admit. We totally talked for hours and hours so we could digest everything and safely return to work.


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