The Hi Hat Highland Park
While York Boulevard may appear to be a sleepy dwelling during the day, the street transforms by night, restaurants and bars packed with locals and good vibes. The Hi Hat, Highland Park’s newest music venue, completes the set of bustling businesses. The space not only functions as a live music venue, but also as an eatery, a bar and a billiards spot, offering plenty of late night hang options. If you’re heading to Highland Park and looking to stick around one place for the evening, this just might be your go-to destination.
Formerly a pool hall, The Hi Hat opened just barely over a year ago on York Boulevard. Entrepreneur Dustin Lancaster owns the joint, as well as several other bustling businesses in the L.A. area like Los Feliz’s Bar Covell and the ever popular Hermosillo Highland Park Brewery just down the street. The interior of the Hi Hat is gorgeous — spotlights and accent lights decorate the stage and accompanying areas tastefully. Every area has an ample amount of space to function, from a fair-sized kitchen to an even larger stage area – the occupancy is allegedly 300 people but looks like it could easily fit much more than that. The former stucco and wood-paneled walls have been removed to reveal elegant, clean accent brick walls underneath, and the ceilings are highly vaulted, allowing for a full spotlight set up for musicians above. There’s also plenty of room for a soundboard just on the other side. The place is well designed to cater to many; as a musician, the chance to play at this venue is definitely not a matter of squeezing to make space for your equipment.
The Hi Hat’s event calendar is bursting with live music practically every night. While the venue showcases mostly smaller indie rock acts, they switch it up with other genres like bluegrass and R&B as well, and many musicians celebrate their releases here. The music is affordable too. It’s pretty easy to catch a live show here for under $20, and with a cheaper service fee – if you’re a consistent music-goer like me, you also hate paying an extra 10 bucks for a show’s “convenience fee.” The music area itself has a ton of viewing options. If you don’t feel like standing through three hours of bands, there are several tables scattered throughout the Hi Hat to sit at. A full bench lines the back of the venue, offering an elevated and crisp view of the performers ahead. The Hi Hat has made live music easy and accessible for a variety of audiences.
Another highlight of The Hi Hat is the food options attached to the venue. While they initially served small bites and appetizers, they more recently added specialty bagels and burgers, leaving it to the pros to serve up prime munchies for visitors. The move was strategic – both Belle’s Bagels and Burger Lords have already established themselves in other areas of LA, making The Hi Hat not only a destination for music but a destination for foodies as well. In the morning hours, you can pick up a freshly baked bagel from Belle’s, with simple flavors like poppy and sesame but more decadent cream cheeses of beet, Sierra Nevada and vegan cashew spread. Grab ‘em early because they serve until they sell out. The evening hours pair hearty, simple burgers with live music. Grab a savory In N Out-inspired hamburger or cheeseburger with Thousand Island sauce before you catch some tunes and make it a combo with fries (yep, they also serve them animal style).
The final perks of the Hi Hat are the pool table and bar. The tables aren’t off limits during live music, so feel free to set up a rack and play while you listen to tunes and definitely grab a drink beforehand.
The Hi Hat had easily made a place for itself in the controlled chaos of Highland Park’s night scene. Check out their calendar for their nightly line-up of acts, and don’t worry about where to get dinner beforehand.