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Your Guide to Getting Trashed in the San Gabriel Valley ~ With Tony Chen

The Top 10 best places to get drunk in the SGV, where "Sideways" could never have been shot... by Tony Chen of SinoSoul.com

1) Liang's Taiwanese Kitchen
227 W Valley Blvd # 128C, San Gabriel

Featured attraction: BOGO $10 Bud/$12 Kirin pitchers all day. Despite the slow slide towards mediocrity caused by rapid expansion, Liang's red yeast fried pork chop is still one of LA's most affordable pork plates at $6. To sober up, try the pork-stuffed soy Jalapeno. Unlike a chili relleno, Liang's uses a Jalapeño pepper to hold soy sauce braised ground pork and it's better than any chili relleno to come out of the westside (or a Mexican kitchen). The drinking crowd is an odd mix of expats and FOBs, mostly middle age and menopausal obasan and omasans. They're 1 pitcher away from cirrhosis, so a drunken hot-mess on an SGV bender won't bother them a bit.

2) Al's Bar
413 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel

Opens at 7am with darts, juke, poker machines AND lotto. If you're so broke you can't afford the drive to Las Vegas just to leave it, come to San Gabriel instead and try your luck. Then again, "Leaving San Gabriel" just doesn't seem as powerful. If you're the sort of guy who likes to chase the morning trip to the dry cleaner with a shot of Jack, Al's is the place for you. It's so good that a patron will still come back to Al's to keep the party going even after getting popped for DUI just after leaving the first time. (Linda L., you're the true American drunken hero.) Image Credit: Googiesque

3) Jurassic Restaurant
15301 Gale Ave, City of Industry

This is one of the 2 themed Taiwanese drinking houses in the SGV. The beer list/pricing is rather lousy; the grub's only decent if you're into eating spicy and funky Chinese food. That said, any joint with the proverbial 2-story plastic dinosaur in the middle of the dining room and bilingual hand scripted signs asking you to "please throw up in sink [sic]" is winner's podium material. Added bonus: it's right next to oft raided, now deceased Hawaiian Show Girls and only four minutes away from the closest all-nude strip club. Photo credit: seanli626


4) First Cabin Bar
46 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia

The house band is "Pat O'Brien and his Priests of Love"... yeah. FCB opens conveniently at 6am, in case the Lauren Bacall you're trying to bag is an alcoholic. This is Al's crosstown rival in a nicer area, sporting the accompanying slightly higher prices but an equal amount of dive. The crowd is diverse, yet inevitably you'll chat up someone who loves the ponies or Man U.

5) The Stuffed Sandwich
1145 East Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel

The OG "craft beer" bar (and pub) -- Owner Sam has been enduring ill health for the last few months, but the love for this bar (and its proprietor) is clear: For years, people whispered about the secret beer stash here and The Stuffed Sandwich absolutely blew up in 2011. With features in Brand X, LAist, and other online zines, this SGV gem needs its quirky operator to return to the helm ASAP. We know some people actually enjoy the food here at The Stuffed, but LA TACO hereby officially begs Chef Laurent Quenioux, an SGV lover, to "pop up" here on Las Tunas instead of downtown or West Hollywood. Photo Credit: Jen and Rick

6) Uncle Yu's Indian Themed Restaurant
633 S San Gabriel Blvd Ste 105, San Gabriel

Stinky tofu 3 ways, spicy chitlin'/pork blood hot pot, log tables and petite A-cup hostesses rocking Uggs (the new faux mocs) with a feather in their hair? This is the most misanthropic gastropub in the SGV and it isn't even close. Are we at a South Asian Indian joint, American Indian beer hall, or West Indies restaurant? None of the above, mate. Beer here is served in dainty 6 oz glasses, because, well, you know: the Chinese have 2000 years of beer pounding history. No matter how tossed you may be, please don't admit you actually like Taiwan Beer.

7) Aztec Hotel / Brass Elephant
311 W Foothill Blvd, Monrovia

This is the only registered National Historic Landmark in the SGV where one can get drunk, but it all goes downhill from there. The hotel/bar complex is an absolute maze, and thus not conducive to exiting the premises if you had one (or four) too many. The band's terrible, the bartenders can be a rather hateful bunch, and the mix of the underage vs. overripe is rather disconcerting. Come to learn how a once glorious Route 66 hotel circa 1924 can sink so low, and be sure to ask the friendlier barkeeps in the karaoke room about the haunted rooms. H/T to http://uncouthed.com.

8) Jay Dee
1843 W Main St, Alhambra

Alhambra's very own Cheers for over 60 years -- With a facebook page, a kitchen manager, and its very own email address, Jay Dee doesn't feel divey, but you'll still find the regulars and the alkies, plus some regular alkies. Jay Dee's building, originally a liquor store and sandwich shop, was purchased by the Lima/Krall family in 1944. The original owners are no longer with us, though the descendants still own and operate the bar & kitchen. Stephanie, the aforementioned kitchen manager, wants us to know in addition to the "famous" burger, Jay Dee serves menudo and a killer bloody mary pairing every Sunday. And oh, her dad's been drinking here since the 60s. What was a vodka + Redbull called in '67?

9) Mission Wines
1114 Mission Street, South Pasadena

There are a dozen wine shops in Pasadena, but Pasasdena has the abomination that is Colorado Blvd and the intelligentsia associated with CalTech. And so South Pasadena, despite the tyrannical police state and the crazy anti-SR710 NIMBYs, is somehow the better burb for Bandol rosé sipping. Mission Wines (not to be confused with the BevMo-esque Mission Liqour & Wines) offers tastings on the daily, but Saturdays are the official tasting days -- 5 pours for $15 until 6pm. Buy a bottle, the tasting is $10. Matt, an ex-chef, is your perfect guide to food pairing, so don't be shy to ask what goes with that fruit bowl. Thanks to Mission for providing that touch of class (and joie de vivre) to the smoggy, sweaty, uncouth region that is San Gabriel Valley.

10) Venice Room
2428 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park

The Lombardos are an institution in Monterey Park. Between the family members there is a law office, a bail bonds operations and this gem of a neighborhood bar. The Venice Room hasn't redocarated since it opened in 1955, but a weighty tumbler of Maker's is $6, so after 2 rounds you too will forgive the kitsch murals depicting the Venice grand canals. Sadly, the karaoke singers on Tues/Thurs AND Saturday requires a lot more to drown out. Walk into the "dining room" and you'll immediately spy Venice's ulterior motive: the scorching open grill watched over by a powerful vent hood. Koreans aren't the first to pawn the cooking off on their diners as the VR has served DIY steaks for decades. On Mondays, the steak -- we only mention the steak because the sides are laughable -- is only $10. Caveat emptor: Venice Room is literally 400 feet away from the frequent DUI check point before the 60 freeway entrance. Image credit: Robtjack

Tony Chen can be found regularly at SinoSoul.com.

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