Bar Review: Traxx, Los Angeles, CA

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On a recent visit to downtown Los Angeles I found my way into a little bar called Traxx and was pleasantly surprised with the service, decor, and most importantly, the Marini.

Traxx is located within the beautiful and historic Union Station in Los Angeles.  Yes, the Amtrak / Metro Rail / Metrolink station.  Not where one would expect to find a quality bar.  But indeed this small and obscure bar is quite an oasis within the mad hustle and bustle of rail passengers rushing to & from the tracks, buses, taxis, and ubers.

Now one has to be careful that you find the bar and not the Traxx Restaurant.  The two are operated as a common entity, but they are physically separate.  I understand that the restaurant is really quite fine and their drinks come from the separate bar.  Alternatively, food orders at the bar come from the Restaurant kitchen.   But I have never had the good fortune to be at Union Station when the restaurant is open so I can only speak to the Bar itself.

The bar is just to the right as you enter the Station’s main entrance.  There are no large signs or neon lights inviting you in so its easy to miss if you’re rushing in to catch a train or rushing out to catch a taxi.  But if you slow down you’ll find it.

Once the original Telephone Room for all of Union Station, it is a time machine to a lost era.  Decorated in  gorgeous art deco wood, terra cotta, and marble tiled floors that spill out onto the main ticket concourse.  This is the classic atmosphere that catered to Bogart & Bacall, a backdrop of the classic golden days of Hollywood.   You can almost feel the ghosts of yesterday brush against you today

As for the Martini itself, they were excellent.  The stems were well chilled, the Martini was well shaken, poured immediately, and ample sized.  The barkeep was professional, friendly, and quite helpful.

Overall I give Traxx one Stem.  The criteria for two stems has always been “Worth a trip just to try the Martini”.  I can’t quite say that I would go there ONLY for the Martini.  But I would definitely go there for the Martini and the ambiance.

Martini Glass Upright

For selection Traxx gets a A.  Their Gins during my visit included Plymouth, Botanist, Bluecoat, Aviation, Few, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Bombay, Tanqueray, Hendricks, St. George Botanivore, St. George Terroir, and Monkey 47.

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*****   Rating Definitions   ****

More on Union Station:

Union Station is definitely worth a visit.  This opulent station was build in 1939 and combines Spanish Colonial, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne Architecture that represent California’s heritage and future ambitions.

The lower parts of the interior walls are covered in travertine marble and the floor in the large rooms is terra cotta with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft). The ceiling in the waiting room has the appearance of wood, but is actually made of steel.

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It was built to consolidate rail services from the three main passenger railroads serving Los Angeles at that time (the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific).   Conceived on a grand scale, Union Station became known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States and remains the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

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Today, the station is the major transportation hub for Southern California, serving almost 110,000 passengers a day.   In addition to being the origin of Amtrak’s three long distance trains (the Coast Starlight to Seattle, the Southwest Chief and “Texas Eagle” to Chicago, and the Sunset Limited to New Orleans), it also serves Amtrak’s California Pacific Surfliner regional trains which run frequently to/from San Diego north to either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo. The station is also the hub of the Metrolink commuter trains and serves as a stop on the Metro Rail system.

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