One of America’s most prominent craft beer breweries is doubling down on Los Angeles, with plans to open a large-scale production facility well east of Downtown. Lagunitas Brewing Company, which is based north of San Francisco in Petaluma but also has a brewery in Chicago, is among the most recognizable names on bottle shop shelves, having been in the business for nearly 25 years crafting mostly West Coast-style IPAs and pale ales.
On Twitter last night, owner Tony Magee (@LagunitasT) began dropping hints as to the growing future of the brand, eventually revealing that the Southern California location would be held in Azusa, California, a small foothills suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. The city itself currently hosts a population of only around 50,000 people, but is within easy freeway distance of several major metropolitan areas and comes complete with lots of light industrial zoning.
Firestone Walker’s foray into the Southland has been a long time coming. The move by the Paso Robles beer giant into two adjacent Venice properties was first brought to light back in 2013, and since then it seems like slow going for the brewhouse/taproom/restaurant space. Mostly because there’s a lot of work to be done.
The second weekend of Coachella tends to be a more timid affair. The first-in-line buzz crowd has already gone, ‘grammed and gotten back to their desk jobs by the end of weekend one, and there are usually fewer celebrity surprises and big name drop-ins as a result. You might say that weekend two is downright relaxed.
Well, perhaps not entirely. There’s still the blazing sun, endless set times and impenetrable crowds to manage. But for those with the discretionary income to enjoy themselves (read: anyone who bought a Coachella pass), it’s possible to make for the desert without overdoing it, even during high music festival season. Spend a little more time near the pool at your Palm Springs hotel, avoid the early traffic by taking in a late lunch, or — better still — spend an evening at Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs, drinking cocktails and enjoying the stripped-down interior. You might not make it to the polo grounds at all, but that’s okay.
Is there officially a ‘first family’ in the Los Angeles taco world? There may be, thanks to Chef Ricardo Diaz and his clan.
Diaz’s family is responsible for the Southern California seafood mini-chain El Siete Mares, whose Silver Lake walk-up stand we profiled last year. (If you’re in the mood for fish tacos and want to give them a shot, opt for the fried shrimp tacos dorados.) And if that wasn’t enough, chef Diaz himself helped open Guisados, one of the most celebrated taco spots in the entire city, before splitting with partner Armando de la Torre and leavving the stewed taco empire to him (for now at least). Then, just last month, we talked lovingly about the mole fries and cochinita pibil at Bizarra Capital, Diaz’s slightly upscaled beer bar and Mexican food outpost in Whittier.
Angelenos have barely had time to push away from the table and wipe our mouths before word of another Ricardo Diaz operation spreads like salsa down our shirt. This time, Diaz is back to take on the world of stewed meat tacos with a spacious, open eatery all the way out in La Puente. Known as Colonia Taco Lounge, the dark and roomy restaurant is part Bizarra—lots of puffy booths and a solid beer list—and part Guisados, thanks to hand-patted tortillas, simmered meat taco options, and long, deep flavors.
As one of three great up-and-coming breweries in Los Angeles profiled recently on Serious Eats, the Pipe Dream team of Brian Holter and Kingsley Toby certainly know how to make beer. The duo have been homebrewing for years, churning out award winners and local favorites on a regular basis. And by local, that means Toby’s garage in Culver City.
To be fair, the Pipe Dream (home)brewhouse is hardly makeshift, with a fully realized brewing operation that mimics large commercial breweries, a walk in cold storage area and a few casks for aging their own concoctions.
On a recent weekend, Toby and Holter let me poke around, sample their fantastic Green Dragon IPA and get a peek inside the Pipe Dream garage.
Word around the taco cooler is that chef Ricardo Diaz — he of Guisados, Cook’s Tortas and Bizarra Capital — is planning to open a fried taco concept in Silver Lake in the coming months, aptly called Duro (that’s “hard” in Spanish). Diaz belongs to the clan behind mini Mexican seafood chain El Siete Mares, so it’s no surprise that the longtime Eastsider is taking over the Sunset Boulevard sit-down version of his family’s restaurant to open something more fun and vibrant on his own.
Of course, all this taco chatter got us hungry, and before we knew it we were in La Puente, home to Diaz’s other recent venture: Colonia Taco Lounge. Open since August, the restaurant features a slew of guisados-style tacos, plus craft beers, a small stage, and lots of free parking. Sounds like a winner already.