The Key's Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes' five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
The author, pondering her coastal allegiance | illustration by Sarah Hughes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes shares how Los Angeles began to remind her of Philly this year.

It’s official, folks — I am a Los Angeles veteran these days and there is no denying it. After a solid two and a half years over in La La Land, I can say that I have become accustomed to the California ways of life. Avocado toast here, rooftop cocktails there; it’s all become part of my everyday. I barely even notice palm trees these days!

So as I’ve continued living in this flashy city, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of locations this past year that I believe, deep down, are Philadelphia. Sure, perhaps they’re technically located in Los Angeles, but whether it be the down-to-earth vibes or the DIY mentality, there is certainly some Philly in this city. These are my top five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly.

1. The Smell

via The Smell’s Facebook page

One of the greatest things about Philadelphia’s scene is its strong, hard-working and passionate music lovers. Without them, we wouldn’t have the amazing array of house shows, DIY venues and killer bills that we have today. While Los Angeles is known for its glitz and glam, there is an understated DIY scene that blossoms beneath the shimmery, manicured surface. One of these passionate patches of Los Angeles is notorious The Smell. Founded by Jim Smith in 1998, The Smell works to build a nurturing music community for all ages in Downtown Los Angeles. The bands are local and admission never surpasses $5 since the space is run by the bands and fans themselves. Not to mention The Smell boasts an insane track record of hosting up-and-coming artists, including Girlpool, No Age, and Health. After popping into my first show there, it didn’t take long for me to think of the many similar venues in Philly like Everybody Hits and PhilaMOCA and feel immediately at home.

247 S Main St,

2. The Garage Motor Club

The Garage | via

A lot of the nightlife in Los Angeles is absolutely doused in glamour: trendy clubs, posh rooftop hangouts and themed speakeasies are all the rage. But sometimes a lady just needs a beer and good company like the good old days in Philadelphia and Garage is great for that. Hiding in the quieter region of Culver City, Garage is a northeast-dedicated bar with wise-cracking bartenders and a friendly atmosphere. A classic sports bar setup, Garage is actually situated in what was formerly an auto shop. It doesn’t take long for you to notice the northeastern loyalty in the bar and I’ve even been lucky enough to grab a Yuengling during an Eagles playoff game! (for those of you unaware, not ALL of us have the luxury of having Yuengling whenever and wherever we want, since it is only distributed in about 14 states, most of which lie in the northeast). I ended up making fast friends with the bouncer who, himself, is from a notorious Philadelphia family lineage. For Philly vibes, this place hits home.

3387 Motor Ave,

3. Grand Central Market


Grand Central Market is a bustling marketplace located in Downtown Los Angeles in the historic Bradbury Building, filled with food, shops, and unique, self-made vendors. It isn’t too much of a stretch, then, to say that this place reminds me feverishly of the great, unsurpassed Reading Terminal Market. With neon signs a-glow and people weaving in and out of the aisles, the energy has an uncanny similarity to Philly. I nearly scanned the signs to look for Carmen’s Cheesesteaks to grab my favorite seitan sandwich. The people are down-to-earth and the vibes warm and welcoming, making it a perfect match for a Philly-lover like me.

317 South Broadway,

4. Philly West

via Philly West’s Facebook page

Perhaps this is on the nose, but what can I say! Philly West is exactly what I need sometimes when everything in Los Angeles is low calorie or the serving amounts are pea-sized. This bar is Philadelphia-family owned and stays true to its name. Located in Westwood, this spot serves up hoagies the way I remember them with real Amoroso rolls and thick slabs of cheese. After surviving off of Los Angeles “subs”, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for a classic Philly hoagie. The bar even features Tastykakes shipped in from the east in case you should get a hankering for some sugary, doughey goodness. I even spotted the bartender sipping coffee out of a classic Wawa travel mug and knew that Philly West was the real deal.

1870 Westwood Boulevard,

5. Eightytwo


If you find yourself in Los Angeles and are in need of a night of Philly-esque entertainment, Eightytwo is a great place for live DJ tunage and tons of classic games. Much like Philly favorite Barcade, Eightytwo provides walls of rotating pinball and arcade machines. It still maintains a Los Angelesian patio, with half of the bar outside, but carries the jovial, upbeat atmosphere that Philly regularly does. A great selection of beers, snacks and games, not to mention the great company, always reminds me of the awesome memories in Philadelphia jamming & smashing buttons with childlike tenacity.

707 E. 4th Place,

Living in Los Angeles is an experience all its own, but sometimes you need a splash of the familiar. Luckily enough, there are plenty of Philly hideaways that can make this foreign city not feel so different after all. It took some digging, but L.A. certainly has some great Philly jawns to keep me coming back.

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