Macaroni and cheese at the Backstage Bar & Grill
Most bars don’t serve food, and those that do tend to focus on the usual assortment of fried items that do little to rival the frozen versions one can find at the local grocery store. Not the case at the Backstage Bar & Grill, where the expansive and tasty food menu has actually garnered quite a fan following.
The term “bar” shouldn’t be confused with the increasingly popular gastropub, such as Bar*Food in West L.A., which is primarily a restaurant but also happens to have a cool bar area. When I refer to an out-and-out “bar,” I’m talking about the sort of windowless, dark cavern that attracts barflies at two in the afternoon on a Wednesday, where people go more to drink and watch the game than to eat or converse. A place where you wouldn’t expect to find food, let alone a delicious meal.
The Backstage is just that – a slightly dingy room with absolutely zero natural light seeping in, known for its karaoke nights and big-screen sports games. But just one glance at the menu and you know that you’re in for a sweet surprise – not only do they offer the more typical bar fare of chicken fingers and poppers, but there are also more intriguing items ranging from a skirt steak entree to a grilled chicken cobb salad.
The burgers are juicy and decadent here, but if you’re with friends, go for the sliders instead, which can be ordered in groups of 2 or 3 and are way more fun to share. The bun isn’t stale or overly large like you can find in countless other establishments, and the secret sauce is a tangy pleasure. 2 sliders can be had for just $7.
Another winner is the nachos with chicken. They can be ordered without meat for $7, but the single buck to add chunks of succulent white meat chicken breast is more than worth it. The chips are homemade and incredibly crisp, the jalapenos are fresh and spicy, and the salsa (also homemade) is tart and not watery in the least.
But my absolute favorite here is the macaroni and cheese. The over-sized noodles are cooked to perfection: not too gooey, not too chewy. The cheese is nicely spread throughout rather than layered on top like an orange rubber hat (as is often the case in restaurant mac and cheese). The dish has a nice dash of garlic and a kick of pepper to it, and the gigantic appetizer portion for only $6 is a crazy bargain.
The Backstage prides itself on its lack of a freezer or microwave, so you know that everything is of the freshest quality and cooked to order. And the best part yet? They offer their food to go, so if you’re not in the mood to hang with the barflies you can phone in your order, swing by to pick it up, and chow down in the comfort of your own home.
Backstage Bar & Grill
10400 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232