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It looks like a Catina, it feels like a Catina, but it’s really an above average Tex-Mex joint in Hollywood.
Catina culture doesn’t exist in Los Angeles.
Yeah, I know. There are dozens of places with the name “Catina” in them. You scroll in and out of L.A.’s many, many fine Mexican-American establishments and you’ll see plenty with the name Catina in them. But they’re not Catinas.
Hell, I’m your friendly neighborhood Food Blogger, and I’ve never been in an actual Catina. Why? I haven’t been to Mexico yet.
Catinas are a Mexican thing. They may be a leftover from Tapas Culture, which has some of the same idea. The idea is simple. You go into a Catina to drink. The snacks are free, but the Liquor is what you pay for. The more you drink, the more snacks you get.
Can you see that happening, ever in Los Angeles, or anywhere in America?
Yeah, neither can I.
So all you can do here in Los Angeles is simulate the Catina culture. Basically, give you a place that looks like it belongs somewhere in Mexico. I don’t know if 3 Dog Catina hits that mark completely successfully (again, haven’t been to actual Mexico yet), but they sure as hell give it a try.
The fact that you’re in Hollywood would throw you at first. It looks like it doesn’t belong here in a way. The fact that there’s a slightly hipper, slightly more adult Bar just across the street, the Velvet Margarita just across the street shouldn’t throw you. You’re not bringing the wife and kids to the Velvet Margarita. Hell, you’re not bringing a first date to the Velvet Margarita, unless you really, really, really have an understanding, and are secure where this relationship is headed. (In which case, aren’t you just delaying things hanging out at the Velvet Margarita?)
I will tell you this, the British Pub next door, the Blue Boar, the Smoke Shop around the corner? This place? All owned by the same guy. Apparently, there’s going to be a Hotel Complex that’s going to be built around here in the near future, and this guy (whoever he is) wanted to corner the market on good times. Hence, he snatched up the 3 Dog.
No, this is family time. Comfortable time, a place to hang out, have a few beers and chill. Oh, look the Laker’s game is on (and this being January of 2014, they’re losing again).
Seriously, you walk in off Cahuenga and you feel like you stepped into a Frida Kahlo painting, or at least something resembling a Frida Kahlo painting. You can go to the bar. You can hang in a booth, whatever man. You’ll be well fed and comfortable. The Menu itself is a jigsaw puzzle of Mexican-American Favorites, with a sprinkling of straight ahead Mexican stuff. Hell, they serve Tortas here…well, at least they did. I don’t see them on the menu anymore.
That may be my fault. I came here originally for the Tortas, and got lured in by Madame Pork’s siren song. Oh well.
It’s a good place. It’s a decent place. It’s not going to make you forget Babitas, but it’ll more than do in a pinch.
WHAT SHOULD I HAVE?: Well, I’d start off simple. I’ve been here for both Lunch and Dinner now, and both times the same thing has tempted the hell out of me: The Tacos Al Pastor. Which are basically Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa, Pickled Red Onion and Cilantro. Tasty as hell. Get two or three of those, couple that with some rice and beans, and you’re all set.
They also used to have a Spicy Brisket Taco on the menu, but it seems to be gone now. It came highly recommended by my Bartender, who loved them. They were a’right, but didn’t match the tastiness of the Tacos Al Pastor.
Normally, I don’t follow things up with a soft drink recommendation, but I would recommend getting the Iced tea, which comes in massive, massive masonry jars. No lie, this on a Hot summer’s day (and Hot Summer’s days are coming in L.A.), this is going to be golden.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: There is nothing too serious here to warn you about. However, this being a family joint, you might run into the occasional ankle-biter here, with Mom and Dad in tow. If that’s the sorta of noise you want to avoid, consider going to the Velvet Margarita across the street. Just sayin’.
PARKING: Typical Hollywood. You can try street parking up and down Cahuenga, but you’re begging if you believe that’ll happen. There are a number of small lots along the street. They can be pricey, depending on what day or time it is, but usually since my visits to this part of town are attached to a visit to the Arclight Hollywood, I park there.
3 Dog Catina
1615 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel: (323) 465-1750
Monday-Thursday 11:30 am – 12 am
Fri 11:30 am – 2 am
Sat 11 am – 2 am
Sun 11 am – 12 am