Those living in the New York City area may already know about the hideout dedicated to all things spooky and Tim Burton – Beetle House. Creator Zach Neil decided to give the City of Angels a taste of this wonderfully macabre establishment (much to my delight) by opening what was supposed to be only a pop-up location on Hollywood Boulevard back in May of 2017. More than a year later, the joint is still open and going strong. I’ve had the opportunity to return to this niche a few times and want to share my experience for anyone curious to know more about it.
If you’re a passerby, it’s easy to miss the bar as the entrance is a bit inconspicuous, except for a small sign above the door marking the spot as the portal to Beetle House. My utter fascination with Tim Burton dates to 1993, the year “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was released. I was eight and my mom took me to see the film. Pondering back, that was probably the moment the goth seed was planted in my mind and soul.
After seeing the movie, I began to voraciously ingest Burton’s work, from “Beetlejuice” to “Edward Scissorhands” to “Corpse Bride” and “Dark Shadows.” You get the picture. I’m kind of obsessed and on my first visit, the little kid inside me wanted to jump up and down with excitement as I walked through the door and up the dark-lit stairwell. When I reached the top of the stairs, I was greeted by Willy Wonka! He’s witty and has a sly sense of humor.
The place is divided into two spaces – the bar, which is the first room patrons walk into, and the dining area, which is hidden from view and requires reservations. When you reserve a table, a hostess guides you beyond a pair of curtains to a sizable dining room. At the helm is a stage and screen playing clips from various Tim Burton films. It is awesome!
The restaurant features a prix fixe menu, which includes an appetizer and main course. There are tasty bites such as the Corprese Bride Salad, Edward Burger Hands and Cheshire Mac & Cheese. The cocktails sound sinfully tempting with names like Coco Skellington and This is Halloween. My husband and I have shared the Big Fish Bowl, and as the name suggests, this adult beverage is more than enough for two. It is a mix of coconut rum, vodka, gin, tequila, blue curacao and pineapple juice. Don’t order one all to yourself unless you want to look like Beetlejuice at the end of the night.
There are also lively performances and an entertaining freak show that come with your meal. We saw one young woman insert a sharp-edged sword down her esophagus and another who danced around a ring of fire.
After dinner, I like returning out to the bar, which is like walking into my dream midnight haunt! Walls are covered with images from Tim Burton’s popular films. Cobwebs, rustic chandeliers, skulls and a menagerie of creepy pieces decorate the bar. And music from his movies as well as goth tunes blare from the speakers. You can choose from several dark corners to lounge, socialize and imbibe in drinks. There’s a good chance you’ll see Mr. Scissorhands walking around timidly greeting people.
Although the Los Angeles Beetle House location was supposed to be just a pop-up, it seems that it’s here to stay. If you’re in the area make sure to stop in, if only to have a drink at the bar and take in the scenery. I can’t express enough how much I enjoy myself here. To quote Lydia in the film “Beetlejuice,” “I myself am strange and unusual,” and this enclave feels like home.
Owner Zach Neil also recently published the cookbook “The Nightmare Before Dinner,” which contains a variety of recipes based on the Beetle House menu! Find out more about this, and the Los Angeles and New York locations at the official website.
Update: Beetlehouse LA will be relocating to a new spot! The restaurant will not only be bigger, but will also offer more spooky delights. Stay tuned for a blog post on the revamped lounge.