On summer nights, who doesn't love a beer garden? Sitting outside at long communal tables, tucking into juicy sausages, hoisting a stein of beer. Though you can now buy your own traditional beer garden tables and benches, somehow having six or eight people in your backyard doesn't a beer garden make. You need a boisterous crowd. Draft beers in big mugs. Sausages and wursts. Definitely fries or slaw. Strings of lights. Maybe an oompah band.
You can't beat the campy rooftop Biergarten of the Standard hotel at 5th and Flower for its wide-angle view of downtown skyscrapers. Austrian chef Kurt Gütenbrunner (Wallsé and Café Sabarsky in New York) created the menu. An $8 ticket is good for two sausages and a small salad, or a giant Bavarian pretzel or a large homemade apple strudel. Beer is $8 for a liter (choice of three beers). Sausages include a classic pork bratwurst, steamed Bavarian weisswurst, kurtwurst (grilled pork sausage stuffed with cheddar) and, if you're a fan, a currywurst: a smoked pork bratwurst with curry tomato sauce.
550 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 892-8080. Open noon to 2 a.m. daily. Weekends, the Biergarten is reserved for hotel guests, or you can pay a $20 cover fee to get in at night.
Chaya Downtown Japanese Beer Garden
Every summer, Chaya Downtown sets up a beer garden on the terrace in back. The lollipop trees are strung with Japanese paper lanterns, and chef Atsushi Kenjo makes a special menu. This year, it's yakitori cooked over hardwood charcoal. Along with skewers of shrimp or beef tongue, you can mix it up with izakaya dishes, including grilled octopus with baby potatoes and Kobe beef sliders. Most dishes are less than $10, many less than $5. And this year, in terms of beer, they're offering something special: Kirin with frozen foam on top, icy enough to chill you down fast.
525 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 236-9577. 4 p.m. to close Mondays to Fridays, noon to 8 p.m. Sundays through August. Yakitori and izakaya items, $2 to $9; other dishes $8 to $14.
Hot night in the city — what better way to cool off than at a sidewalk table at Wurstküche downtown, sipping Belgian ale on tap and polishing off some juicy grilled sausages with fat Belgian fries. Weekends, there's a DJ inside, but it's definitely more fun taking in the scene and the skyline outside (quieter too). Tops on my list are the bockwurst with sauerkraut and onions, the hot and smoky Austin Blues with sweet peppers, and the beef and pork Louisiana hot link. The only dipping sauce you'll need for your fries: chipotle aioli.
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800 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles, also at 625 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, (213) 687-4444. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Sausages, $6 to $8.