THE FEDERAL BAR
NOHO’S PREMIER GASTROPUB
An archetype for gastropubs in L.A., North Hollywood’s The Federal Bar is one of the places responsible for the revitalization of the booming NoHo Arts District since its 2011 opening—they’re also the team that opened the refined Bow & Truss – a personal dining and drinking favorite.
Housed in a former federal bank space, the 1926 North Hollywood building design features two distinct mixed contemporary and traditional bars on the ground floor – each with its own style and charm with a flair for the 1930’s and prohibition era. Windows open to the street and push light off of the resurfaced industrial brick walls, in addition to period furniture with a modern style, including premium sound and flat screens that tie the old with the new.
A go-to place for quality beers, The Federal Bar specializes in hard-to-find and limited edition brews. Every month they showcase specialty barreled beers and offer a special “Flight Night” the first Monday of the month where you can sample a variety of intriguing ales.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with the Spicy Tuna Tartar with ginger corn puree and served with crispy wontons, alongside the Fried Brussel Spinach Salad prepared with crispy red onions, goat cheese, baked apples, and balsamic reduction—both fine, light and delicious starter items.
The Mini-Stuffed Blue Cheese Burgers, a trio of Angus beef with blue cheese or veggie sliders, is a great choice if you just want to nibble while drinking, a good selection to split while you decide on heartier choices.
Another great item that is perfect for sharing is the Southwest Chicken Flat Bread, made with roasted corn, black beans, red onion, Manchego cheese and cilantro. While it’s the beer list that is renowned, I had to start with The Fiddler, an Jameson Irish Whiskey-based cocktail mixed with Frangelico, Fever Tree Ginger Beer built over ice in a Collins glass with a lemon wedge. I found refreshing, but afterwards I stuck with the menu’s pairing recommendations.
Looking for a hearty entrée, The Federal Burger, prepared with garlic chips, smoked cheddar, bibb lettuce, and balsamic onion is a fine choice. And note it is best paired with Flying Dog, Doggie Style Pale Ale. The two really complement one another. And you have to order the Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Tots! This is a truly evil little creation…you just can’t stop eating them until the bowl is empty, and then you might consider ordering another.
If you’re in the mood for a dish a little out of the ordinary, get the delectable Ox Tail, served with braised garlic kale, mash potatoes, and jus. This fantastic choice is best paired with Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir. This one really elevates the gastropub experience.
While I found the specialty cocktail menu a little too sweet for my liking, you may want to try the Gold Rush (Wild Turkey Bourbon 101, honey syrup, lemon, shaken and strained over fresh ice into a Margarita glass with an added lemon wheel) or the Ace of Spades (Avión Reposado, Briottet Crème de Mure, agave syrup and lime, shaken and strained over fresh ice into a Margarita glass with a lime wheel).
And just as you would think, desserts at The Federal Bar are killer and decadent. The Elvis Pie makes it really understandable just why The King was not the world’s healthiest entertainer. The Lemon Curd Cheesecake is another fine choice, but it’s the Sweet Bacon Cristo—a deep fried chipotle peanut butter and chocolate concoction—that is truly out of this world! Between the Sweet Bacon Cristo and the Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Tots your trainer may chew you out or you’ll definitely find the motivation to workout the next day.
With its cool bar scene, relaxed atmosphere and hearty comfort food selections, The Federal Bar is a great NoHo choice for brunch, lunch, happy hour or dinner.
The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11:30am-close; Sunday: 10am-close. Call 818-980-2555.
Story and photos by Jose Martinez
Additional photography courtesy of Mark Duttweiler