By Emily G. Peters
New(ish) kid on the block 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill quietly took up residence in Old Town Monrovia back in 2015—although the level of chill depends on the night. On a Sunday evening, the bar is pleasantly relaxed, with ‘90s era music servings as the non-invasive soundtrack to a great meal, cocktails and (you guessed it) 38 craft beer selections on tap.
If a livelier scene is your thing, consider the upscale-yet-carefree bar for your New Year’s Eve celebration—this time the ‘80s will be alive and well with movies, music and a costume contest to boot. It’s one of many elements that make the bar attractive to locals.
“38 Degrees was founded in 2007 in Alhambra, and we were drawn to Monrovia by its charming downtown and the wonderful people that live there,” says James Boyle, head chef at 38 Degrees.
An East Coast native, Boyle came to Los Angeles to pursue music by night and chef skills by day. In the space of just 9 years, he went from slinging pizza in New Jersey to taking up the mantle of head chef at 38 Degrees. And four months back, he had the opportunity to become co-owner—and took it.
“It’s been an awesome choice for me. I’ve always loved cooking and the restaurant industry,” says Boyle. His tenure at the bar has allowed him to refine the menu: dubbed “New American” and featuring an array of smoky barbecued meats, a killer mac and cheese and lighter pizzas, tacos, sandwiches and more. On our Sunday in question, the soup of the day is a house-made pozole, which does not disappoint—made that much tastier with a solid bar program.
Besides the outstanding beer selection (kept at an almost-icy 38 degrees), diners can choose from custom cocktails like the “Despacito,” a crowd-pleasing riff on a margarita with a spicy kick. The menu benefits not only from Boyle & co.’s input but feedback from diners themselves. So far, that feedback has been positive.
“The response in the town has been overwhelmingly good. I always love getting a note on a bill or check saying how somebody’s enjoyed their time here, and that we’ve exceeded their expectations,” says Boyle. He draws his menu inspiration from fellow chefs, too.
“I find the best way to get out of the rut is going to dine at other restaurants or to travel—I specifically like going to Europe and to Japan,” says the chef. “Seeing things from a different perspective always helps open up the mind to new creative possibilities.”
With more creations like Tiki Night and their Backyard BBQ Party on the horizon along with catering services nearly ready to roll, 2019 is looking bright for the staff and regulars at 38 Degrees.
“I think here at 38 degrees we have the full package. We prepare our food in-house, even down to our bread and bacon,” says Boyle. “With independently owned craft beer and fresh in-house made mixed drinks paired with our great service … that’s been the recipe for our success.”
38 Degrees is located at 110 East Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Monrovia. For more information, contact the 38 Degrees team at 38degreesalehouse.com/monrovia | (626) 408-5544 and follow along on Instagram and Facebook @38degreesmon.