Many people are fond of bashing LAX. While I’ve never bashed her per se, I will simply say she is early to bed, and she has her ups and downs. The downs, naturally, are considerably less steep with the help of alcohol. So Then! Not a comprehensive list so much as it is a jumping off point, following are my personal favorite watering holes when I find that I am suddenly spending more time than desired at the local airport. None of them require Admiral miles.
A little pricey, but fun and damn sublime come sunset. Always a good bet, provided you have the time. Whoops! I meant to say always was a good bet, before that plaster fell and up went all that scaffolding and shit and they closed the fucker down for the foreseeable future. Next.
Skip right the hell over the wheat brews and the mashed dinner crowd at Gordon Biersch to your left, once you make your way through the security checkpoints. The bar by the taco joint - El Paseo - always crowded, always the most buzzed lot. Dangerous. Select “Tales from the Fourth Chair At The Mexican Bar In Terminal One” stories by Losanjealous Ryan available, offline, $14.95. Email for info. Did You Know? There’s also a Home Turf sports bar in Terminal 1. Nobody ever finds it, because it’s buried back at the end of the terminal by the Vegas gates, but the Vegas crew is all getting sloshed up at El Paseo. Thusly you can run straight into Home Turf, which will be either dead empty or have at most two hilariously stereotypical, very old businessmen as clients, instantaneously down as many drinks as you see fit and without breaking stride walk right up to and through the “Boarding Group C” gate with pure Diesel breath. Vegas here we come, get those tiny stripper lunch boxes out of my way.
Oh hell. Just go to the duty-free. Chances are good you’re getting the hell out of the country! Beyond that, terminal two has a wolfgang puck which is, in my book, clearly the bar to patronize, your other option being the sort of depressing, Route 66-themed LA Roadhouse.
This terminal sucks so hard, your only real choice is the Burger King-adjacent sports bar. (Heroes? Champs? Toolz? HOME TURF!) Home Turf. Jesus I hate Terminal Three with a vengeance, I had to spend so much time in this terminal one year. Off to the Turf you go cat go. It sucks, bigtime, but you need booze for the holiday travel, so belly up and take advantage of the “big beer + cheap shot” deal they’ve got running just like every other Home Turf (see: terminals 1, 6). This ‘Turf also has Jody Maroni sausages, if that’s your thing (and, need I remind you, it is).
Upstairs at Bradley, your best bets within spitting distance of those crucial escalators are looking Mex’d or Grilled. Remember terminal 1? Bradley has an El Paseo. Margaritas available. On the other hand, you have the option of getting sauced at the Daily Grill, something many citizens of Los Angeles are already skillfully adept at. The familiarity of the Grill might just put you at ease long enough to grab a serious buzz before you get that passport manhandled. The Daily Grill at Tom Bradley has helpfully sub-divided itself into two Grills: Drinking Daily Grill and Just Eating Quickly Daily Grill. If you’re here for a disappointing flash-prepared meatloaf platter while the gate line cools off, by all means stay outside and enjoy your water. If you want to get sauced, go on in through the glass doors and take off your cap.
Terminal four is sort of a no-brainer of a contest between Chilis Too and Travel Right Cafe. Unless you’re dead set on skillet queso, you definitely want to go with Travel Right. There may also be a Manhattan Beach Brew Co around here someplace. Skip it. Go to the travel right, grab yourself a bartop or one of the uncomfortably, european-squeezed tables and meet some fresh-faced, fellow wayward boozehounds. Passable grub, nothing above par.
El Cholo is about as good a place to quaff a brew or a margarita as any, in these waters. Make it happen. Otherwise you’re stuck at Malibu Al’s, and I can’t remember if the CPK serves booze. Either way, make sure you drink just enough to go blow your wad senselessy at Spirit of the Red Horse before leaving town. “I brought you these Native turqoise southwest earrings… from Los Angeles!”
Terminal six is a miserable joke of a terminal squeezed into a row of terminals that had been becoming increasingly more posh, ever since that whole terminal three fiasco. And, much like terminal three, this joint’s got Home Turf, with all its same airport booze choices, just waiting to suck, stuffed into the back of the terminal like an afterthought. It’s almost as if LAX were telling you “We are aware Home Turf (terminals 1, 3, 6) is an absolute embarrassment to Los Angeles International Airport. As such, we have pre-emptively zone-stuffed it as far back as possible into the applicable terminals, and by doing so have hopefully assisted in keeping it out of sight whenever possible.” And then you go into home turf, and they’re all “Big beer? With shot of Jack on the side? $2 more!” Roll the dice and belly up. You’ve also got a Redondo Beach Brew Co here. You be the judge; if it’s open and you hate Home Turf enough, it might work.
Why cannot all terminals give us the drinking options of the glorious Terminal Seven? Wolfgang Puck battles Karl Strauss for your wallet. Term 7 is always tempting on paper, but in actuality I’ve yet to see it properly executed. At least when you get over here on the south side, you can more or less run terminal-to-terminal considerably easier than you can on the north side. Remember this and be thankful when both of the glorious bars mentioned above are closed at 10pm on a Friday, and you are hauling ass back to the Travel Right Cafe you snubbed some three terminals ago in a desperate, futile attempt for a drink.
I don’t know the last time I had to fly out of Terminal Eight. Maybe never? They’ve got an LA Roadhouse and a CPK, if anything, from what I’m reading. Fuck you, Terminal Eight. You sound terrible so I’m glad I haven’t had to use you.
Photo of Encounter by FlyKonstantin; some rights reserved.