On a Friday night back in June (6/29/07 to be exact), we ventured out to Highland Park to check out two new bars within walking distance on York Blvd - Johnny's, and Marty's.
First we went to Johnny's, since it's on the corner. Parking on the street was not a problem. However, since you will be walking the streets at night, be forewarned - the neighborhood is a bit rough. I didn't feel unsafe (probably because I was with my husband), but I did feel like I stood out in my designer jeans and heels as we walked past auto repair shops and Cholos in white tank tops smoking on the sidewalk. The neighborhood reminds of me of what Silverlake was 15 years ago - up and coming with new hip bars and shops popping up, but still a rundown neighborhood on the fringe of the ghetto.
The best way to describe Johnny's is a dive bar with a mixed hipster clientele. It's got a long bar, and leather bench/couch seating with small tables on the side. In the back there's a jukebox and a pool table.
There were two bartenders manning the bar. I read reviews about how the double bar tending thing isn't working there - as one would take an order and give it to the other one, and never check back to make sure you actually got your order. We had the same experience. First the one bartender thought the other one had taken our order (she hadn't). Then when we ordered another round and it didn't come - when she caught our eye - she told us that she had given our order to the other bartender. It's a small bar, but we had to flag down a bartender if we needed anything and it was a long wait for everything - which was annoying. We never got our water we asked for either. From a small, neighborhood bar you expect better service.
It was also really cold inside. Outside it was a warm night and you didn't need a jacket. But inside it felt like a meat locker, and we had to wear our jackets the entire time. The place has cement floors and just a really cold, dank vibe, (think basement) so it's weird that they'd crank up the air conditioning like that.
It can also get quite loud at Johnny's. There was a guy at the end of the bar who was shouting and the entire place echoed his conversation.
We left to check out Marty's down the street (also on York), on the opposite side of the street. (I'll write about Marty's in a separate post.) If you're in the area, forget Johnny's and head over to Marty's. There's no comparison.