Murph’s Morphs Into Downtown Johnny’s

What: Sherman Oaks restaurateur Richard DiSisto (Tipple & Brine, Tunnel Bar) has once again reinvented one of his restaurants. Although Murph’s Service Station (and Mad Bull's Tavern before that) opened this past September, Richard decided to do a quick switch-up and turn it into Downtown Johnny's. Why: “My Uncle Johnny introduced my family to the hospitality business with his nightclub back […]

What: Sherman Oaks restaurateur Richard DiSisto (Tipple & Brine, Tunnel Bar) has once again reinvented one of his restaurants. Although Murph’s Service Station (and Mad Bull's Tavern before that) opened this past September, Richard decided to do a quick switch-up and turn it into Downtown Johnny's.

Why: “My Uncle Johnny introduced my family to the hospitality business with his nightclub back in 1980,” says Richard of the new spot’s namesake, “and his advice to me was always to keep it simple.” Richard says he listened to his uncle's advice with the creation of Downtown Johnny's—his version of a modern sports tavern. “The art of hospitality is all about people coming in and having a great time,” he says. “Downtown Johnny’s really goes back to basics … it is just down-to-earth food, approachable cocktails, a long and versatile beer list, and a great time!”

The food: Executive chef Marc Johnson created a menu he calls “modern tavern cuisine.” There are all the usual suspects, such as chicken wings, poutine, mac ‘n’ cheese, deviled eggs, salads, flatbreads, burgers, tuna tartare, Brussels sprouts. However, Johnson says that it is not typical sports bar food: “I want to elevate it with modern technique, quality ingredients and unique presentation.” There are also 16 gluten-free choices and several vegan and vegetarian options.

The drinks: Bar director Daniel Ponsky has created a list of eight cocktails, 20 beers on tap, plus another 35 bottles and six cans. Some of the more unique options are Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout (a brew from San Diego that is like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in a glass); Früli Strawberry Beer (a sour and fruity concoction from Belgium); and Stoner Duck Hemp Brown Ale (a nutty brew made in Venice with real hemp seeds).

The design: Richard fully renovated the space with a 58-foot bar and vintage booths set atop a 14-inch raised platform that he calls “the coolest seating in the entire Valley.” There are six televisions behind the bar, two on the patio and a pair of 9-foot drop-down screens that will show big games as well as black-and-white movies in the late-night hours.

The deal: Happy hour seven days a week, 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Downtown Johnny’s is open daily from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. 14649 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-205-1616

Smoked salmon

Mac 'n' cheese with truffles

Short-rib sandwich

Crispy pork belly

Downtown swing cocktail

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