Booze is the college drink of choice, but students living in the San Fernando Valley face a major dilemma: Many think there’s nowhere to go for a drink.
Sure, you have your bar or restaurant near campus, but the average student wants a place where he or she can socialize outside school boundaries.
Not everyone likes or can afford the Hollywood scene on a regular basis. Driving down to Sunset can also be a problem, or impossible for those who don’t have a car.
But students who thought that there was literally nothing to do in the Valley have been misinformed. Two not-so-little places within five minutes of one another – Stovepiper and Harper’s Sports Bar and Grille – have become quite popular as of late. Both bars are off the well-beaten path near CSUN, and both offer their own affordable mixes to suit every college student’s booze-based needs.
Stovepiper is located on Parthenia Street and Corbin Street In short, the atmosphere at Stovepiper is laid back, and the drinks are reasonably priced.
The Stovepiper reminds me of the bar from “Cheers” because it looks very old fashioned with its “old school” bar stools, dim lights, TV and jukebox. But there is a dance floor in the back, as well as a place where a DJ or band can set up. The bar offers its customers entertainment throughout the week, ranging from karaoke on Mondays, to live acoustic sets on Thursdays, and 80s Night on Saturdays.
If live music isn’t your thing for when you go out drinking, come here Wednesday nights, because apparently it’s the place to be. Arrive before 10 p.m. and try to avoid the line that usually stretches out into the parking lot.
“This place is off the hook on Wednesdays,” said one partygoer waiting in line on Aug. 18. “My friends and I make it a point to be here on those nights.”
What is great about Stovepiper is that you don’t have to get very dressed up to come in, as jeans and flip-flops are a staple among customers. Students and locals are here to have a good time and aren’t too concerned with the glitz and glam of Sunset.
“All I do is put a little lip gloss on and I am good to go,” said May, a CSUN student, outside the bar. Students seem comfortable here, and oftentimes that’s all that matters.
Less than five minutes from Stovepiper is another bar, Harper’s Sports Bar and Grille, located on Tampa Avenue and Nordhoff Street behind El Torito.
The bouncers outside Harper’s look like they’ll break your arm if you cross them, but they probably help keep the loonies at bay.
The people who come here look a little more fancied up than the people at Stovepiper. When I was there, the girls were either trying to bare it all or leave very little to the imagination, and the guys were either the average Joe or completely covered in tattoos. I also encountered people who were huge sports fans and tried to pick fights with other patrons. It was an odd collection of Valley drinkers.
All we really want as college students is to have a great time and a few drinks, and this bar does just that. Harper’s also has a huge bar that has flat screen TVs tuned in to whatever sporting game is on. The bar also serves food, has pool tables, dart boards, a patio for smoking, friendly staff, an adequate dance floor, and a DJ.
Harper’s staff and management seem to be excited about how the bar is becoming more and more popular, and people who used to drive to places like Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard and Howl at the Moon at Universal City Walk are now making Harper’s their first choice to hang out. Many patrons say that Tuesday nights are as good as Wednesdays at Stovepiper.
When talking with patrons at Stovepiper and Harper’s, I asked them what where the best places to go in the San Fernando Valley, and two answers coincidentally and repeatedly came up: Stovepiper and Harper’s. It’s amazing what you can find if you look a little harder and listen a little closer. And if Tuesdays and Wednesdays aren’t good days for you, both watering holes have weekly events that should cater to your needs.
Candice Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.