Tasting Panel - May 2019

Bar Franca Blends Escapism and Comfort in Downtown L.A.

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Downtown Los Angeles is hardly lacking in buzzworthy new bars, but for Rachel Thomas— a longtime downtown resident and former co-owner of popular rooftop bar/restaurant Perch—the area’s dramatic transformation over the past decade has neglected to foster a very specific type of venue: a well-rounded, neighborhood-oriented bar that’s decidedly “adult” in terms of both its offerings and ambiance. Enter Bar Franca, Thomas’ latest project in downtown’s Historic Core, which checks off all of those boxes while managing to transport guests away from Los Angeles altogether. A neon sign of a pair of cherries draws passersby onto the front patio, which manages to feel secluded despite its proximity to the busy street; inside, a long bar spans the length of the narrow, European-inspired space, bathed in dusty shades of pink and striking printed wallpaper. With Bar Director Laura Lindsay (formerly of Providence and The Fiscal Agent) at the helm, Bar Franca has revamped its cocktail menu for the first time since opening last September. A vocal proponent of using hyper-fresh, housemade ingredients wherever possible, Lindsay has conceived an incredibly versatile list of drinks primed for adventurous yet comfort-seeking palates. Among the most innovative is the First Flush, which combines Roku Gin, lemon, pistachio orgeat, matcha, and soda to create an irresistibly fragrant, creamy, and slightly nutty riff on a Gin Fizz, and the tiki-inspired Sur La Planche with Rhum JM Gold, Lemon Hart 151, lime, date, banana, and bitters. With warm service to match the intimate surroundings, it’s no wonder Bar Franca has filled a niche for discerning downtowners. For more information, visit barfranca.com.

Gina Borgia