Hollywood, a land of crushed dreams, dirty streets and some of the worst dressed Marvel characters in the world. There’s something about this part of Los Angeles that has a charm to it. That is if you exclude the ¼ mile radius around the Grauman’s Chinese theatre, for the love of God don’t go there.
There are plenty of famous bars around Hollywood that either flat out suck or take so long to get in, that the “great buzz” you got from those 3 IPAs at the pre game is wearing off. I’M LOOKING AT YOU NO VACANCY. So when I found out that my holiday work party was going to be held at Mama Shelter, I was intrigued but prepared for a let down. But like Derek Jeter in game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, luck was on my side. For those who don’t know that one, Google Jeffrey Maier, that kid is a national hero and better be getting free slices in NY to this day.
At the corner of Selma and Wilcox, right up the street from Amoeba Music sits Mama Shelter, “a true urban refuge that’s not just beautiful, modern and lively but also popular, friendly and sexy” –via mamashelter.com. And while I normally would distance myself from any establishment using the phrase “Urban Refuge”… I will make an exception here. Walking in to Mama’s I knew my party was upstairs, but just the entrance made me want to show up fashionably late. A downstairs bar and restaurant showing Thursday night football seemed like it could be better than Fetworking (this is my new term for Forced networking, and yes I would like your endorsement on LinkedIn).
But once the elevator doors opened just seven floors above the star lined sidewalks of Hollywood, I was happy I didn’t stay below. Straying away from the classic posh rooftop décor, Mama Shelter takes on a Mexi-cali vibe that could not be more inviting. Bright colors, serapes, old time movies and a beautiful 360-degree view of Hollywood makes it feel like you died and went straight to John Leguizamo’s heaven.
It’s my humble opinion that a bar with a little something for everyone is a bar that is perfect. And while I have yet to find a bar with sports, a dance floor, games, a cigar lounge, craft beer, cheap beer, a rooftop, a basement, great seating, adequate noise levels etc. etc… (I could do this all day, I AM PICKY DAMN IT), Mama shelter gets about 4 of these, which is pretty darn good. An open area for large groups, intimate tables for conversations with a date or to sit at by yourself because your’e sad, games and great drinks were all readily available. And while the only game was miniature foosball and the cocktails were $14 I loved it. Mainly because the drinks were paid for by work and after 4 of them that foosball table felt a lot bigger than it actually was.
And speaking of foosball let’s talk food! I know those have no correlation but transitions are hard so I’m going to just move on. Appetizers on appetizers were brought out, and each looked more delicious than the next. But the star of the show for me was the Crispy Tofu in Korean BBQ sauce. Staying true to it’s name, this crispy yet delicate finger food spiced up my evening and padded my empty stomach with the strength to keep drinking gin at a rate that definitely concerned some co-workers. Please take note, if you started reading this column for meat reviews go watch Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, cause your boy is all about his soy game.
The Staff at Mama’s was the definition of professional. No note pads, quick service and friendly demeanors. And even though their slogan “Mama loves you”, is creepy and I don’t like it one bit, the wait staff sure made me believe it.
And while I normally would love to review the clientele of a bar, because how much fun is judging strangers right? I will not be able to do so as the majority of people surrounding me were there for the Holiday party. And since I take very little in my life seriously, this column will be. So no people reviews this time (my apologies to Brian Williams, I know this is his favorite part of the column. It’s my hope that you respect my journalistic integrity here Brian, and please be respectful in the comments).
Mama’s is straight up just a good time. Frills, but not too many, pricey drinks that are worth the view, a talented and caring wait staff and solid food make this a great bar to go with friends, or a date spot that’s sure to impress. So if you find yourself itching to get out in Hollywood, head here. You’ll love the drinks and be high enough off the strip that you can pretend that hellscape below is all in your imagination.
(All rankings out of 5)
Bar Flies: N/A
Overall score: 92/100