The Black Cat Bar (4246 University Ave.) is located in City Heights, roughly a mile east of North Park—far enough to keep douche-bros and annoyingly pretentious hipsters away.
If you're enjoying craft cocktails with friends in a nearby neighborhood only to find yourself suddenly listening to club music or surrounded by a fedora-wearing contest, jump in a ride-share and head east. Depending on where you are, less than $5 can probably land you at the stylish Black Cat, where you'll be able to hear your interlocutors, continue to drink craft beer or cocktails and maybe even catch a little live music.
"If the bar had been in North Park it probably wouldn't have been cool enough," says the establishment's owner Matt Parker, humbly. "It's just a bar, and we'll take anyone who wants to come in and be friendly."
Since 2011, Parker has owned the bar, which was built as a bank in the early '20s. Crafting the interior to play up its once-classy beginnings, the modest space features dim lighting, a small stage, comfortable booths and a tasteful bar. Weekends usually feature live music, including the old-timey G Burns Jug Band on the first Saturday of the month.
"The fact that it was a really neat old building with high ceilings and crazy crown molding and nifty windows drove its semi-formal sort of a look," Parker said. "The bones kind of demanded it."
Someday, the masses will discover the Black Cat, and when that happens, CityBeat will be happy for Parker's success. However, until then, I'm going to keep hitting up this inspiring yet low-key location, which offers all the artful charm of a hipster bar but without the hipster hordes.