Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso is the epitome of Chicano culture in East L.A. Nestled on a hill in Boyle Heights across from the Mariachi Plaza and with a view of downtown, Eastside Luv is dressed in deep, dark red from the inside out.
The corner wall boasts a mural of a mariachi band by famed painter and muralist Robert Vargas. Walking in, you feel like you’ve entered your cousin Nestor’s house…if your cousin Nestor had inherited the house from your grandmother, was into lowriders, had been a greaser and got decorating tips from his burlesque dancing girlfriend.
Upon entering, there is a black corduroy wino bench along the wall that’s designed after house slippers. Eastside Luv’s bar is low and you have to break your back to order a drink, but it’s worth it because it also serves as a stage for bands, singers, and cabaret dancers, like Carolina Cerisola, who shimmies and sways along the bar every Saturday night with the saxophonist from the Walter Davis Band.
The backdrop to this bar/stage is an interesting collection of blown up vintage Mexican movie posters. The walls are decorated in red heirloom damask velvet-flocked wallpaper and paintings by local Chicano artists.
Apart from the cabaret and live music, there is karaoke for a variety of artists like Morrissey (“Morrissey-oke”), and Latin artist Selena (“Selena-oke”), a new twist on the tired, typical karaoke entertainment. “Morrissey-Oke” happens every first Thursday of the month and “Mariachi-Oke,” karaoke for the Latin music genre, happens every third Thursday of the month. All karaoke events happen from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
The bar is open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m and the cover charge on a Saturday night is $10, but if you follow the dress code you can get to the front of the line with free entry all night. The dress code does not allow guys with Ed Hardy or flip flops to enter, and encourages dressy hats like feathered fedoras and Jackson hats. Needless to say, the guys there look classy with their gauged ears, tats and collared shirts.
The DJ will usually spin an eclectic mix of music which spans from Spanish rock and traditional Hispanic music to indie rock and old school Snoop Doggy Dogg. If you want to dance, the middle of the bar turns into a dance floor typically after 11:30 p.m., or whenever people like getting down.
The drink prices are typical, around $7, but during happy hour the prices can drop down to $1, including free entry. The top drink order is the Micheladas, a mix of Mexican beer, hot sauce, lime juice, and salt, which is the perfect blend of spice and alcohol. What sets these Micheladas apart from the rest is the actual Tamarindo flavored candies that are thrown in for that extra spice.
The smoking patio is somewhat enclosed, but is made to look like someone’s backyard. If you are confused by the bathrooms signs, “Las Chulas” means “Ladies” and “Los Winos” means “Gentleman.”
If you just want a good night of dancing and entertainment with some culture, this is the place. The crowd is good-looking, classy and ready to get down, while the drinks are tasty and affordable. There is no doubt that Eastside Luv is one of a kind.