Some neighborhoods have their very own gems where the locals gather, while some neighborhoods don’t have that luxury or convenience. And with those gems, may come delicious food, an atmosphere perfect for unplugging from the last week’s stresses, or just a perfect setting for your favorite people to come together and reconnect – a reminder of how a special place can work wonders for our existence.
West Hollywood is one of the places lucky to have a few of these gems, but there’s one in particular that checks all the boxes: low key and hypnotic, while buzzing with just the right amount of activity, and a consistency that those who love it can always count on. Dimly lit, yet bright enough to see your party’s faces, bouncing with infectious beats, while just loud enough to still connect with those around you, and elevated menu options still big enough to share and leave you satisfied. That place is Harlowe.
Owned by the 1933 Group, Harlowe made waves at the end of 2023 for their completely revamped bar menu, giving frequent guests something new to look forward to. In its nearly 15-year existence, Harlowe has managed to kick off 2023 on a strong foot that is bound to not only bring back regulars who may have fallen out of practice, but also attract new customers looking for delicious cuisine to match the unique time that the bar offers – ultimately turning it into a weekly checkpoint to re-up on all it offers.
And before being turned off by the idea of “bar food,” it’s important to understand that Harlowe has raise the standard of what bar food can and should be. Elevated by accomplished culinary consultant and chef, Chester Hastings, he proves that you don’t need a full and upscale kitchen army to offer a standout bar menu that appeals to the local community. What Harlowe offers is simple, unpretentious, and deliciously good. Chester’s recipe substack, his personal IG and book about cheese can help demonstrate his perspective, skill, and cucina povera ethos.
Most known for his traditional Italian specialties, chef Hastings taps into the same approach for Harlowe’s new bar menu: use fresh ingredients and do little to them. Inspired by the bar bites at Harry’s Bar in Venice and Grande Hotel et des Palmes in Palermo, he puts it simply, “small portion bar food but substantial.” This simple statement captures the very essence that he has managed to achieve with the new menu.
The new Harlowe menu caters to modern palates, keeping thing simple, yet elevated to what would be expected from shiny, fancy establishments:
- Oversized prawn shrimp cocktail, grilled with espelette and lime zest served warm on glass with a Madre mezcal-spiked cocktail sauce
- Cheese & Italian salumi plate; a brie torta with pesto, balls of fresh goat cheese rolled in bee pollen, wildflower honey, finocchiona salami, cognac mustard
- Hanger Steak Frites – long shoestrings with simple steak, finished with a mound of crispy shallots and cognac pink peppercorn butter
- Fried green tomato burger (V); cornmeal and chickpea flour batter in buttermilk, flash fried in a pan with spicy avocado crema
- Fried Calamari and Chicken tenders (GF) are battered but Gluten Free by using chickpea flour
- Vodka pasta gratinée (V) creamy and baked with pecorino, mozzarella and breadcrumbs
- Vegetable crudo platter (V) with lemon hummus, cucumber mint yogurt, pickled onion
In addition to the new menu, Taco Tuesday — a weekly staple to Harlow — is still in demand, and the tacos have been revamped with four varieties – all served on Gracias a Dios white corn tortillas and charred on an open flame. Fillings include: smashed purple potato with black bean and queso fresco; seared shrimp; citrus marinated chicken with avocado; and carne asada.
What’s a food experience without dessert? Harlowe’s irresistible sweets are made using Gelato Festival’s gelato mastery: chocolate alongside pistachio orange honey brittle, fior di latte with passionfruit honey syrup and toasted sesame, and lemon sorbet with fresh lime zest.
And it wouldn’t be a bar without Happy Hour, which still stands from Tuesday-Sunday, 5-7p, with many of the aforementioned dishes on offer — plus $10 mules, old fashioned, margaritas, whisky sours, long island iced teas, beers, wines and well drinks.
In a wave of menu refreshments, it’s easy to overlook bars, but Harlowe is not just any old bar. A decade of consistency and reliability in WeHo has proven its place as a gem to the neighborhood, especially in a post-COVID world. Bar bites of this magnitude are much more than snacks, but an unexpected dinner and dessert when molded by masterminds like Chester Hastings. Worth a visit even from miles out, Harlowe manages to reimagine the modern neighborhood bar experience and spark up envy in those who don’t live within its vicinity for the frequent visitor luxury, while also competing with big restaurant names we all know, love, and justify traveling long distances for. (See Harlowe’s hours of operation, here.)
Inspired by a single painting of a vibrant 1930s socialite, along with an assortment of vintage portraits (often dubbed as her closest friends) donning the walls, Harlowe captures the feel of an invigorating social club from Hollywood’s Golden Era.
Harlowe’s design reflects the turn of the 19th Century: a time when European influences were prevalent in stateside culture, and revolutionaries, artists, and poets shared ideas over tipples and dance. Harlowe has the soul of an age once forgotten and the spirit of a young, vivacious neighborhood bar.
A lively list of classic and original drinks and old-meets-new dishes tickle the palate while patrons snuggle in a booth, chum it up at the bar, or scruff the dance floor on any given night.