Day drinking is a cornerstone of LA life. And how could it not be? Anything below 65 degrees is basically The Day After Tomorrow. But just because a place serves mimosas and has a patio doesn’t make it deserving of your entire Saturday afternoon. Here are the 21 places that actually are.
Located between the Arts District and Little Tokyo, High Tide is a bright pink, flamingo-laden restaurant/bar that isn’t nearly as annoying as it sounds. In fact, it’s probably where we’re going to be drinking every weekend this summer. There’s a full indoor component with a stage and live jazz at night, but everybody’s here to sit on the excellent patio, suck down too many many frosés, and loudly wonder why there’s a guy blowing glass in the corner.
The Venice Boardwalk isn’t generally a place we advise people to go drink, but The Waterfront is the exception. The sprawling neighborhood bar/cafe has actually been around since the mid-90s, but recently underwent a big renovation that includes a brand new patio, an updated food menu, and plenty of decorative surfboards (of course). The weekend crowd is definitely filled with more tech bros than a Snapchat singles mixer, but this is Venice - it just comes with the territory.
Sure, you can find Ballast Point beers in every grocery store in California, but no one at this Long Beach taproom is here because they’re on a quest for rare brews. They want to enjoy the airy, two-story space with 360-degree views of the marina and the Pacific Ocean. On weekends, the Billabong-enthusiast crowd definitely becomes a bit much, but the good news is that this place is so big, you’re always able to find an empty corner away from the chaos.
Walking into Bar Calo is like walking into a satirical Echo Park lifestyle exhibit. People wearing repurposed Trader Joe’s bags are drinking mezcal tequilas, groups of friends are chain-smoking in the parking lot like it’s the ’80s, and some guy in a mesh romper is trying to tell you about his crystal-based diet regiment. It’s a lot to take in, but the drinks are strong, the snacks are way better than they need to be (get the Oaxaca hot chicken), and the wrap-around red couch is the perfect place to sprawl for the afternoon - so you’ll definitely decide to stay a while.
Big Dean’s has been in operation since the 1970’s and is a flat-out Santa Monica institution. Situated right on the boardwalk below the pier, its touristy location might not inspire much confidence, but Big Dean’s always seems to attract a perfect mix of locals, out-of-towners, and laid-back people who just want to drink by the ocean all day. Try to snag a table on the back patio, and don’t leave without ordering the most underrated burger on the Westside.
On Saturdays and Sundays, this rooftop bar at the Freehand Hotel becomes a full-on spray tan mob scene, but maybe that’s exactly the kind of afternoon you’re looking for. The colorful patio has strong cocktails, a solid snacks menu (get the tuna tostada and vegetable egg rolls), and a great view of Downtown. You can only get in the pool if you’re staying at the hotel, but let’s be honest, your spray tan isn’t dry enough for that anyway.
Cha Cha Chicken is a tiny Caribbean jerk shack a block from the beach in Santa Monica. While it’s a great place for a quick post-beach lunch, it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of their BYOB policy. Roll in with as much beer or wine as you’d like (no hard liquor), order some coconut fried chicken and dirty rice, and lounge around in their rainforest-like patio until the Sunday scaries take their toll.
Come Friday and Saturday night, Idle Hour is one of the most popular places to drink in the Valley. But if crowds and standing on your toes to get the bartender’s attention aren’t things you feel like dealing with, go during the day for a far more relaxed experience. Expect half the crowds, a big back patio with a giant bulldog statue smoking a pipe, and a Southern-ish brunch menu that’s exactly what your hangover needs.
It’s hard to keep up with all the new rooftops Downtown. So we’ll make it easy for you - go to Nomad Rooftop. Why? Well, it has a full restaurant and bar area, plenty of lounge chairs by the pool, and a big stone head that kind of looks like Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple. But mostly, we love it here because the crowd is low-key, the servers actually pay attention to you, and you can’t find better cocktails at a Downtown pool. The tequila and poblano pepper-infused Dewin’ It may be our favorite unfortunately named drink in LA.
Apotheke is an olde-timey cocktail bar in Chinatown, and while it’s definitely more of a night-time spot, the secret is to go on Sundays when they open around 5pm. That’s when you’ll get the big back patio all to yourself. We could probably do without the bartenders in white lab coats, but there’s no denying that their apothecary-themed cocktails taste a lot better than the Alka-Seltzer you took this morning.
Highland Park Brewery has been an LA favorite for a while now, and their new-ish location in Chinatown is the kind of space where you’ll want to sit and hang out all day. It’s located across the street from the LA State Historic Park, so their front patio feels downright serene, and the big industrial interior can handle any size of group you roll in with. Their bar snacks menu is also handy (get the cheese curds or tacos) for when the inevitable wave of hunger hits.
Anyone who says they don’t like playing cornhole on a sunny afternoon is lying to themselves. El Tejano is a massive Texas-themed bar in North Hollywood, and while their Tex-Mex food leaves a lot to be desired, there are very few places in the Valley where we’d rather get a little rowdy on a Saturday afternoon. There are two different bars (one inside and one on the back patio), well-shaded areas to sit and relax, a beer pong table, and of course, some glorious cornhole.
If you want to day drink like a professional, you go to Red Lion. This German beer garden in Silver Lake is a classic, so come pay your respects on their back patio with multiple steins of beer (and probably, at some point, a sausage platter).
Day drinking in Hollywood used to mean an afternoon of 2-for-1 shot specials at all those tourist bars along Hollywood Blvd. Not anymore. Mama Shelter was among the first openings in Hollywood’s latest hotel boom, and while the entire boutique hotel itself is pretty cool, it’s that rooftop patio you need to focus on. Part bar, part restaurant, part place to sit on big comfy couch-things and stare out over Hollywood, Mama Shelter can get a little hectic on the weekends, but if you’re playing hooky they’re open all day during the week as well.
Block Party proves that if you give the people good beer and a good place to drink it in, they will come. This place is in the middle of the action on Highland Park’s York Blvd., and while the front bar area is always a good time, you’re here for that massive back patio - with long wooden tables, cruiseship-sized shuffleboard courts, and a retro hot dog stand. And if you’re not a hot dog person, you can order in any outside food you want. In which case, we’d need to have a talk.
Santa Monica has no shortage of hotel rooftops overlooking the ocean, but the majority of them are simply not fun. Hotel Erwin is different. Come early enough in the day and you’ll experience great views, a fairly mellow atmosphere, and excellent Bloody Marys. Just know this place can become a bit of a bro-apocalypse as the night wears on.
We could (and probably will, at some point soon) give you a whole guide to Downtown breweries. But we’ll just cut to the chase - go to Arts District Brewing. The beer is fine, but you’re here because the space is massive, there’s an entire row of Skee-Ball machines in the back, and if you get hungry, they have a solid selection of chicken sandwiches, burgers, and the always important loaded tots. If you’re rolling deep this weekend and worried you won’t find a place that everybody will be happy with, A.D. Brewing is the answer to your problems.
To anyone who’s never done it, the idea of day drinking at The Abbey is questionable at best. But the secret is that daytime is actually the greatest time to drink at the most famous gay bar in LA. The scene will get wild later in the afternoon, but earlier in the day, the crowd is actually local, with far less to prove than the weekend warriors who descend upon the place at night.
Serving as The Roosevelt Hotel’s pool bar, Tropicana is a pretty close approximation of a long weekend in Palm Springs. Here you’ll find cool people, strong drinks, and never-ending pool action in a setting that feels like a sexy 1960’s Burt Reynolds night soap. Warning - the cocktails can get pricey here.
The dream is drinking all day and getting a little weird on the beach. The harsh reality is there are very few places where you can actually accomplish that unless your old weed guy sublets in Venice now. And that’s why The Whaler is so essential. The two-story bar right on the boardwalk has solid food, cheap drinks, and a fun crowd that doesn’t fear a slightly sloppy afternoon.