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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. Cinco de Mayo is a day celebrating Mexican pride and heritage. For many, that means drinking a lot of tequila. Perhaps you like...

Looking for a cocktail bar where you can watch a sports game? Or a sports bar that serves good cocktails? And what about good food? Well, Brack Shop Tavern in Downtown Los Angeles is all of that! brack-shop-tavern-1 Brack Shop Tavern is located on 7th between Grand and Olive, a street that has slowly been filling up with restaurants and bars including Little Sister, Bar Mattachine, Mas Malo and Bottega Louie. Brack Shop Tavern is run by Last Word Hospitality, which includes partners Angus McShane, Adam Weisblatt and Holly Zack, who also own Same Same Thai in Silverlake. At Same Same Thai, LWH took a neighborhood favorite Thai restaurant and updated the decor and added an interesting and diverse wine list to pair with the food. LWH has done it again. They took the old dive bar called Barrel Down, stripped it and created Brack Shop Tavern, a loud, friendly sports bar with craft cocktails, on-tap beer, house-made sodas and hearty, elevated bar food. brack-shop-tavern-3 Brack Shop Tavern has a small but creative wine list featuring domestic producers and interesting varieties. It is refreshing to go to a bar and to find wines like rose, chenin blanc, riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, sangiovese and cabernet saviginon. And for the sparkling wine, they offer a cremant de Loire, definitely not what I would expect but was very happy to see!
My taxi picked me up in downtown Chicago and I told the driver to take me to the Pilsen neighborhood, just three miles southwest of the Chicago Loop where I was staying. The area was originally inhabited by Czech immigrants who named the neighborhood Pilsen after the Czech Republic city Plzeň. The area then became predominantly Latino. He argued with me and kept questioning why I wanted to go there. I couldn't understand why he was so resistant and explained that I knew exactly where I wanted to go.....Punch House, located in the historical Thalia Hall. Thalia Hall Thalia Hall, modeled after Prague's opera house, was built in 1891 by original proprietor John Dusek and the neighborhood's Eastern European immigrants. The space has been restored and today is a music venue/event space, as well as Dusek's restaurant and The Tack Room, a bar in the former carriage house. And, downstairs is Punch House.