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One of LA’s Most Historic Bar Spaces Returns to Life in Lincoln Heights

The Airliner, which dates to 1923, reopens this weekend

The interior of The Airliner in Lincoln Heights, California.
The Airliner
Courtesy of Sean Kelly
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

This Friday, Los Angeles cocktail fans can experience the next iteration of iconic Eastside bar The Airliner. The historic space was first established in 1923, and over the last few decades has shuffled between a dive bar and space for iconic underground performances like the weekly hip hop and electronic show Low End Theory. Now owners Sean Kelly and Monica Blair have dramatically transformed the building, and are planning for much more than just bar snacks and bad beer.

In the building’s early days, the Airliner was a laid-back lounge attached to an adjacent steakhouse. At present, the 4,500 square foot space takes up two floors and a vast outdoor patio. The first floor includes a lengthy bar with deep wood, banquettes, and a vast, eye-catching and LA-centric mural by local artist Stacy Smith. Kelly (who is also a one of the original founders of Highland Park’s Town Pizza) and Blair, who purchased the place in August, will keep the upstairs stage and bar for special curated events, and they’ve transformed the former rear parking lot into a softly lit Mediterranean patio.

Chef Gabriel Cappelli has taken the lead in the kitchen. Cappelli’s niche is to create food at throwback bars, including the The Edmun on Melrose, and the shuttered The Lost Knight in Echo Park. The Airliner is Cappelli’s fifth project, and he chose favorites from Tunisia, Sicily, and Argentina, like an eggplant capponata or half roast chicken.

The outdoor patio at The Airliner in Lincoln Heights, California
The Airliner patio
Courtesy of Sean Kelly

Cocktails lean towards the classics and the whimsical. The New Edition takes a shot of blanco tequila, Chareau liqueur, cucumber, lime, and serrano chile; the Fly by Paradise uses Wheatley vodka, a guava apertivo, and lemon.

The Airliner debuts its new look this Friday in Lincoln Heights. Expect hours from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily to start.

The Airliner

2419 North Broadway, , CA 90031 Visit Website