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Downtown’s New Barbecue Contender Is a City Slicker’s Smoked Meat Hangout

Smoke City Char Bar’s broad menu promises brisket, ribs, tri-tip, and cocktails

A side shot of a long dining room with golden chairs and tall ceilings, with signs for barbecue.
Inside Smoke City Char Bar.
Restaurant Marketing.

There’s a new option for smoked meats and cocktails in Downtown these days, as Smoke City Char Bar opens Friday at the back of the Aliso development in the Arts District. Expect ribs, cocktails, and plenty of patio seating.

While the front of the Aliso development faces out to Third Street across from spots like Manuela and the new Camphor — and is getting its own restaurant and bar remake thanks to names like Arrow Lodge Brewing — Smoke City Char Bar is tucked away at the back corner, facing out to Traction Avenue near Arts District Brewing and not far from Fourth Street. The mixed-industrial dining room befits the location, its design defined by steel and cement. Tall roll-up windows pass the breeze into a golden-touched dining room and bar, with TVs for catching the game and old road signs and other ephemera giving the place a newly rustic charm. Pendant lights and a touch of drought-tolerant landscaping finish off the Mary Dailinger-designed look.

A cement patio and tall glass moveable walls for a new restaurant.
The wide patio and roll-up windows.

As for the food, don’t expect a super-focused regional barbecue operation like Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights. Executive chef Omari Williams plans to pull from the Texas and California diaspora and beyond, meaning brisket and tri-tip in addition to salads, smoked jackfruit, salmon mains, and more. There will be both vegan and vegetarian options available as well as desserts like tableside charred marshmallows for s’mores. A full bar means California wines and craft beers alongside cocktails like a Bulleit rye old fashioned with molasses.

Smoke City Char Bar opens Friday, March 25 at 899 Traction Avenue. The project is the work of group Cathedral Hill Associates, who operate restaurants in the greater Seattle area, up in Mill Valley, and beyond, and Bay Area-based owner Ki Yong Choi. The restaurant will keep daily hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with an extension to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Also worth noting: Parking is free for two hours from the adjacent Aliso Garage with validation.

A long bar with backed seats and wavy decor inside a new restaurant.
Seats at the bar.
A wide sign for DTLA and a long run of grey banquette seats at a new restaurant.
Upscale retro decor touches from inside.
A triangle-shaped cement patio at a new restaurant in Los Angeles at daytime.
An elevated view of the patio.

Smoke City Char Bar

899 Traction Avenue, , CA 90013 (213) 935-8194 Visit Website

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