Visiting Hollywood's Polish Dive Bar PRL
"It's an institution," my buddy Grant told me one day. Words that mean a place has that certain je ne sais quoi that makes it a must-see destination. He was talking about a little bar called PRL.
Situated on Hollywood Boulevard just west of Young Circle, PRL is one of Hollywood's best craft-beer spots. It's a dive too, which makes it the perfect venue to focus on the beer and meet new people, like bartender Julie, who happens to be superfriendly, down-to-earth, and knowledgeable about her wares.
I came with a small group, and we were the only ones there. "It'll get busier later," Julie told us as she dug into her dinner, a soup from the Thai joint a block away. As we all sat there with our food (more on that later), it felt like hanging out with someone we knew, even though we had just met.
It's been a while since we visited this "Best Of" joint, which won Best Decor and Best Hollywood Neighborhood Bar in 2011, and it looks like everything that made it the best has been kept intact. This must be that "institution" thing Grant keeps talking about.
From Czech to Polish to Russian and various other countries in the former Eastern Bloc, the selection of beers is appropriately funky. On one trip, I found bottles of Vichtenaar, a Flanders red ale, as well as Lucifer, a Belgian strong pale. There's a heavy emphasis on beers from Belgium and the U.K. as well, so those looking in that direction will be pleasantly surprised. Sours are occasionally available, and the draft selection is small but broad in style such as Lost Coast's 8 Ball Stout, seasonal selections from Smuttynose, and even Narragansett, the Rhode Islander's lager of choice.
The coolest thing is the bar's in-house beer. You heard me right: PRL has a pilsner brewed for them by the Florida Beer Co. called PRL Pils. While there are better pilsners to be had, it's an acceptable novelty and definitely won't break the bank if you drink a couple.
But it isn't just this Eurocentric dive that makes it an established tradition. No, it's the combination of a no-frills, no-nonsense pizza joint next door that adds a yin to PRL's yang.
A slice from Mauro's Pizza's is all that is needed to soak up the Russian and Eastern European beer you're guzzling. This cash-only joint features a by-the-slice takeaway that would warm any New Yorker's heart. We're talking big $3 slices served on paper plates for you to ravish as you walk, since there's nowhere to sit inside.
It's no surprise either when you consider that Mauro's won New Times' Best Slice category in 2011. With all the gourmet nonsense that creeps up, it's good to get back to basics.
For a night out in Hollywood, I would hesitate to choose anywhere else. But then again, I'm a beer guy and pretty broke. With an empty stomach and some smarts, a great time can be had. Now I want to head back. Who wants to carpool?
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.
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