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Retooled Hardware Store Becomes LA's New Hot Spot

Shared plates and creative cocktails have replaced plumbing and electrical supplies at Laurel Hardware, a new West Hollywood haven for hunky men, leggy blondes, and the rest of the trendy Los Angeles crowd.

The city's hippest summer outpost opened recently in a former hardware store on Santa Monica Boulevard (nostalgic appliance-shoppers can take solace in the fact that the original sign and storefront remain).

Phil Howard's 3,500 square foot restaurant and bar includes a cozy white-tiled café in front, an oversized kitchen-bar, communal tables, private booths, and even a spacious outside patio. If you can get a reservation, there's ample room to nosh on seasonal small plates or try entrees, including the LH burger (with comte cheese, fries and rocoto aioli) and brick-oven pizzas.

But many come simply to sip artisan cocktails while seeing and being seen. (The drink list was designed by Cole Apodaca of Hotel Shangri-La.) This writer went with the suggested Gangster (cucumber-infused vodka with fresh juiced watermelon + crushed ice). It sufficiently refreshed and it certainly beat a screwdriver.

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