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Koreatown’s Favorite Sports Bars: Where To See Ryu Hyun-jin Lead the Dodgers

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t was nail biter, but we made it. The Dodgers overcame a crowded field to earn the West crown, beating the Colorado Rockies in a tiebreaker game on Monday, Oct. 1. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts tapped South Korean hurler Ryu Hyun-jin to lead The Blue Crew in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. Although he missed many games this season due to a groin injury, Ryu has been hell of strong as of late — he pitched a 1.88 ERA since coming off the disabled list in mid-August.

It’s no wonder Ryu will start in Game 1. That's why this is the game to watch in Koreatown. And to help you with that, we've distilled six great places to see the Boys in Blue, where you can enjoy the only-in-K-Town vibes of cold beer and tasty bites.

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Photo courtesy of LG.
Photo courtesy of LG.

Biergarten

206 N. Western Ave. L.A., CA 9004
(323) 466-4860
Open from 4 pm to 12 am Thursday
Multiple TVs, more than a dozen

From the outside, Biergarten seems like just another one of those bland sports bars tucked inside a gated strip mall parking lot, like you might come across anywhere in Koreatown. But on the inside, you’ll find more than a dozen TV screens, comfortable booth-type seating, and a pub grub menu unique from anything else in Los Angeles.

Biergarten as its name suggests offers fare that takes its cue from both Germany and South Korea. You can expect everything from Bavarian pretzels and German wurst to Korean fried chicken and kimchi pancakes. Isn’t that exactly what you would want while Ryu Hyun-jin shows off why he’s owned batters in his last nine starts?

OB Bear

3002 W. 7t Street L.A., CA 90005
(213) 480-4910
Open from 4 pm to 2 am
Lots of TVs, maybe 17

From its name alone, OB Bear suggests the type of place where you can watch a game anytime during baseball season by virtue of the fact that the OB Bears was a baseball team based in Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium back in the 1990s. The team changed its name to Doosan Bears in 1999. But the OB Bear backs up its name with some 17 screens. They will definitely be screening Ryu Hyun-jin lead the Dodgers against the Atlanta Braves. Basically, you can sit anywhere in the place and still have no worry you’ll ever miss any of the action in Game 1.

OB Bear’s food is truer to the idea of South Korean pub grub, carrying menu items you could see at any number of watering holes in South Korea: tubu kimchi, fried chicken, and pajeon (“Pa” means scallion in English, so pajeon is a simple batter pancake with scallions as its prominent ingredient) and lots of lots of lager. OB Bear is popular for its chicken wings. You could even label the place a true chi-mek joint. Chi-mek is a pub-grub portmanteau combining the Korean word stem for chicken and beer.

Beer Belly on Western. Photos by Philip Iglauer.

Beer Belly

532 S. Western Ave. L.A., CA 90020
(213) 387-2337
Opens from 5 pm to 12 am
Plenty of TVs

Beer Belly is a craft beer bar on Western Avenue serving a decent list of California craft beers and specialty sounding gastropub items. But judging from Beer Belly’s Instagram account, Jimmy Han is a definite Dodger fan. And this fact could be the best thing about Beer Belly as a place to catch all of the Dodgers NL Division Series games.

It’s nestled deep inside another one of those gated parking lots I mentioned earlier that are so common in this hood. The vibe is very low-key, making it a nice place to catch a game. The menu has belt-busting and creative food items such as Duck Fat Fries, Fried Chicken Cuban, and Deep Fried Pop Tart, naturally, for dessert — plus all of those high calorie craft beers on tap. Those are offerings well paired with baseball.

Toe Bang Café

3465 W. 6t Street L.A., CA 90020
(213) 387-4905
Open from 11 am to 2:00 am
11 TVs strewn throughout the dining area and bar

L.A.-based Korean American rapper Dumbfoundead named Toe Bang, Escala and Café Bleu as three of this favorite places in Koreatown in a 2015 interview with LA Magazine. That’s got to be worth something. Manager Justin Oh says his place has 11 TVs, so don’t worry about TVs. You can comfortably watch the game from anywhere in the bar and dining area.

The name Toe Bang literally means “dirt floor room,” and recalls something old-fashioned and traditional. You can find so many restaurants in Seoul with Toe Bang in their name usually cater to some traditional or old fashioned dish or specialty such as cheong guk jang. Koreatown’s Toe Bang outfits itself with some of those same Korean old fashioned and traditional tropes. It is also something you could see in the kitschy, touristic part of Seoul, such as Insadong.

Café Bleu

3470 W. 6th Street #8B L.A., CA 90020
(213) 383-0180
Open from 5 pm to 2 am
Three TV screens

It’s sandwiched in the corner of a long strip mall directly across the street from Zion Market on South Alexandria Ave., around the corner from Toe Bang Café and Escala on 6th Street. The Café Bleu’s façade is pretty unassuming, but the atmosphere could be described as “K-town cowboy” chill, since it’s one of the places the makers of the popular web series used to actually party at.

Café Bleu has comfortable couches and booths and big screen TVs, perfect for watching baseball and slinging beers. Cafe Bleu has a meandering menu of hamburgers, tacos, and salads, as well as Korean grilled skewers, stews and kimchi fried rice, among other items. It is known for its decent list of whiskies, too. Some of them they also sell by the bottle, which is a option typical at bars in South Korea. Café Bleu also sells fruit platters for those with the South Korean taste for munching on fresh fruit with their pricey single malt scotch.

EscaLA

3451 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Open from 11:30 am to 2 am
(213) 387-1113
Two TV screens: one at the bar & one in the dining area

Escala calls itself a Colombian Korean restobar on its website. It’s no wonder. One visit inside says everything: An open, sunny and welcoming space that allows in tons of L.A.’s year round perfect weather. Escala serves a fusion of Latin and Asian cuisine, including barbecue short ribs, crunchy Colombian chicharron, spicy Filipino longaniza, plantains, and an arepa, or Colombian flatbread made from ground maize.

Escala opened in 2014 by a South Korean-born guy who grew up shuttling between cultures and continents, from Colombia to Los Angeles to South Korea, back again, and has a personal backstory as eclectic and tumultuous as Koreatown.

RELATED: This Hole in the Wall in Koreatown Is the Only True Mongolian BBQ Spot in L.A. Doing Stone-Cooked BBQ Lamb

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