Maybe not a dive, but there are worse things than a frosty mug.
The balancing act of replacing a long-tenured dive with someone new is a tenuous line to walk, Los Angeles dive bar Crawfords in the Westlake neighborhood a perfect example. The structure now known as Crawfords was previously operated as Linda’s Place, a much more rustic drinking environment that buzzed in patrons at the locked front door on a case by case basis. What replaced Linda’s is certainly a manufactured dive bar experience, but one that does well to replicate an informal drinking experience.
Crawfords is the 2016 product of college friends Dave Abrams, Matt DIttman, Michael Blackman and Dustin Lancaster, all veterans of assorted Los Angeles eating and drinking establishments, including the always enjoyable beer spot The Hermosillo. Early success spurred the opening of a second location, Crawfords Pass in Burbank, in 2018 before it ultimately closed down. The concept is clear, an unassuming if intentionally created fried chicken and cold beer bar free of Los Angeles-grade pretention that can threaten to seep into even the most no-frills spots in the city.
The Crawfords exterior is about as minimalist as it gets, yellow painted brick surrounding a blue tiled door under the twin phrases “Fried Chicken” and “Ice Cold Beer” that really drive the concept home nicely. A handful of small café-like tables and chairs can be found lining the front of the bar as a makeshift patio that is more or less restricted to the thin piece of real estate between the street and the sidewalk. String lights hang over this strip of patio, making for attractive outdoor Westlake drinking when the weather cooperates.
On the fried chicken front, the reviews are generally positive, Crawfords sometimes cited as one of the best friend chicken stops in Los Angeles. Chicken comes in normal and spicy varieties accompanied by a simple set of sides that includes staples like mac & cheese and potato salad. All orders are placed at the bar counter, an original piece held over from Linda’s Place, before being brought out to one of the assorted tables inside and out.
Decorations throughout the Crawfords space feel a bit like doing an eBay search for “vintage beer sign” and snagging the first few listings. And that’s not a bad thing, of course, the timeless illuminated pieces anchored to exposed brick revealed when the Linda’s Place walls were peeled back. A Blatz light hangs over the bar’s pool table, typically offered for $2 a game with timed specials that sometimes cut the price in half. No dive bar is complete without some level of taxidermy of course, a few pieces distributed throughout Crawfords among additional string lights and canoe suspended from the ceiling.
There are knick knacks to be found throughout Crawfords, from the bobblehead collection behind the bar to the mounted set of target practice hunting sheets depicting various animals. Indoor seating is limited, most of it found along stools at the bar or among a set of red, cushioned, semicircle booths that line one of Crawfords’ walls. The beer selection is more limited in comparison even than the seating, assorted cans and bottles available in addition to the Crawfords signature offering, a draft domestic (Coors Light currently) in a frosted mug.
Proximity plays in Crawfords favor, defunct nearby Los Angeles concert venue The Bootleg reopened as 2220 Arts & Archives just a few blocks away. And for those looking for someone that isn’t fried chicken as their beer pairing, the original location of Los Angeles staple Tommy’s Hamburgers sits directly and diagonally across the street from Crawfords. Those in a certain kind of mood will also be relieved to find a Taco Bell complete with walk-up window next door.