Any dive bar that classifies a pork chop as a side has our vote.
Common is the dive bar at the tail end of a strip mall but uncommon is finding an interior like Los Angeles dive bar Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill. Found in the city’s Sherman Oaks suburb and almost hidden thanks to a structure that sits in the strip mall’s parking lot, the simple orange sign above the plain wooden door is worth seeking out thanks to a plush, cozy atmosphere and a surprisingly extensive food menu.
Digging into Pineapple Hill’s past will undoubtedly uncover owner Angela Marsden’s COVID-related plea for fairness when the business was denied the ability to serve food outdoors while a film production set up a tent in her parking lot to do exactly that. Community support swelled thanks to the video, resulting in a crowdfunding campaign that helped stabilize the Los Angeles dive bar’s finances. A post-COVID comedy exhibition further solidified Pineapple Hill’s viability, setting the bar on course to bounce back from pandemic-era restrictions.
Established in 1975 and operating under the same name since at least 1978, Pineapple Hill was purchased by Marsden in 2010, ushering in a period of sustained ownership that has helped cultivate a community-friendly dive bar environment. A very strip mall-like set of illuminated letters shouts the name of the bar from the plain white wall above the front door. A carved wooden sign to the left of the door has seen the opening hour of the bar scratched out, left to depict a closing time of 2 AM and the word “Dancing.”
The Pineapple Hill Saloon interior could not be more different from its strip mall exterior, the palette a rich collection of lounge-like colors characterized by deep brown wood and soft, stained glass-filtered light. Throwing the name ‘saloon’ into a dive bar name is not always the sign of a true saloon-like atmosphere, but Pineapple Hill fits the bill, down to the old timey font that depicts the names of cocktail types running along the top of the bar. Strips of stained glass ring the bar’s liquor selection, everything illuminated, the light bouncing off of the tin roof covering that part of Pineapple Hill.
The space is broken up into a few distinct areas, the bar commanding the main room with some supporting stools. A partition separates this large interior area, offering another ledge for stool-adjacent seating and separating the bar from a fireplace-centered lounge area. A plush booth curves around the front wall of this secondary space, dead ending into the Pineapple Hill fireplace complete with mantle. Atop the mantle and throughout the Los Angeles dive bar, the pineapple theme is well represented, here in the form of a pineapple statue.
An area toward the rear of the Pineapple Hill space is a bit more sparsely decorated, feeling a bit like overflow seating for busy nights consisting of a few low tables and chairs. Beyond the partitioning of the square footage inside Pineapple Hill, the small details make the difference, from the stained glass that can be found throughout the building to the classic restaurant, red-glass candles found on each table. The beer selection is extensive here, well beyond the usual set of dive bar standards thanks to nearly 20 available taps.
The food menu, served until midnight, is upscale and deep, ranging form bar-friendly appetizers to more robust options like catfish, enchiladas and meat loaf. In addition to the usual sandwich and burger options, Pineapple Hill goes one step further and includes pork chops on the menu’s array of sides, a reclassification of pork that this reviewer can get behind. An afternoon happy during weekdays is paired with a late night happy hour period, both including drink and food discounts on already affordable pricing by Los Angeles standards.