Transparently, we could not agree on a title for this bar guide. “The Coolest Bars In LA?” No, what does “cool” mean, anyway? “LA’s Hottest Bars For Hot People Who Just Want To Have Fun In The Heat?” Obviously, that didn’t get very far in the editorial process. Plainly speaking, use this list of LA bars the next time you’re looking for an exceptionally good time.
Tramp Stamp Granny’s reopened over the July 4th weekend and immediately reclaimed its spot as one of the most objectively fun places to drink in the city. The rowdy piano on Cahuenga in Hollywood is the kind of place you poke your head into because you hear people singing The Killers in unison and stumble out four hours with “Defying Gravity” stuck in your head and a video of Evan Rachel Wood belting Alanis Morissette on your phone. TSG’s is unlike any other bar in the city and if you want to get in on its unabashed revelry, we recommend getting there no later than 10pm or prepare to wait in line outside.
Located in Weho, Hi Tops is the second location of a very popular San Francisco queer bar that’s tangentially sports-themed. We say tangentially because although there’s a heavy high school gym locker aesthetic here, at night, it turns into one of the best places in the city to dance. You’ll hear songs you’ve haven’t experienced outside of your dwelling yet, like singles from Dua Lipa’s pandemic-released album, and a drink or two will most definitely be spilled on you by accident. It’s chaotic, it’s sweaty, but most of all, very fun.
This neighborhood bar and queer space in Silver Lake is the kind of spot West Hollywood could never have. There are cheap drinks, a welcoming dance floor, no lines, and a waitstaff that didn’t bring a stack of commercial headshots with them to work tonight. The crowd is laid back, but everyone there is down to drink, dance, rinse, and repeat. If the Weho thing isn’t your energy right now, Akbar is your remedy. There’s no cover charge right now, even on Sunday afternoons during their al fresco Pride series featuring DJs, drag queens, and more.
If you’ve ever seen a show at The Largo on La Cienega, you’ve probably wandered around and found a somewhat hidden bar off to the side that looks like a basement drinking den somewhere deep in Paris. That’s Roger Room, home to our favorite craft cocktails in West Hollywood is officially reopen. The space is small and dark, with a crowd that never gets too sceney - perfect for a nightcap with a friend or an after-dinner drink with a date that’s going great.
Sitting atop the Citizen Public Market, Bar Bohemien is a brand new rooftop bar in Culver City and an ideal spot for after-work drinks with those two coworkers you actually like. It’s a walk-in-only situation right now, but even when it’s crowded, you never have to wait too long for a spot to become available. Our favorite cocktails are the sweet and slightly spicy Fire & Rain, and the floral La Boheme, which comes with dry vermouth, orange bitters, and your choice of vodka or gin. There isn’t a food menu, but if you get hungry, you can always bring something up from the food hall downstairs.
After a year-long quarantine, maybe the idea of standing around a bar with a drink in your hand just isn’t going to cut it. You want to dance and dance hard. Snag tickets for a night of revelry with Club 90s. This roaming dance party pops up at venues across LA with various theme nights that range from Mamma Mia to 80s punk to Olivia Rodrigo. Spots go quickly, so you definitely want to follow @club90s_la for all the most update-to-date information. Proof of full vaccination is required upon entry.
There are plenty of incredible places to drink in Koreatown, but the outdoor patio at Ddong Ggo might be our favorite. Walking into this massive beer garden at 11pm on a Saturday feels like you’ve stepped into the best party in town. Everyone is drinking pitchers of beer and smoking cigarettes (a lot of cigarettes), and the only time they take a break from either is when a gigantic kimchi pancake hits the table. They’re currently open from 5pm-2am daily, walk-ins encouraged.
After a six month-long hiatus, Everson Royce Bar in the Arts District is back and better than ever. Their sprawling, string-lit back patio is the kind of place where one round turns into three in the blink of an eye, and if there’s a better bar food menu in town, we don’t know it. From flaky buttermilk biscuits to shrimp buns to a single patty burger that will change how you think about burgers, this is simple, straightforward snacking food that we endorse crossing town to eat. Whether you’re a regular or have never been in your life, the time is now to be hanging out at Everson Royce Bar.
While the Valley is home to one of the oldest tiki bars in America (Tonga Hut), when it comes to rum-infused drinks, it’s always Tiki No in North Hollywood for us. This divey bar might not have history behind it, but it more than makes up for it with a lively, but never rowdy atmosphere, fantastic cocktails, and the kind of rum punch bowls that will have you calling home at the end of the night apologizing to your parents for being such an asshole when you were a teenager.
Crawfords proves that a place can still qualify as a dive bar even if it doesn’t have 50 years of sweaty history stomped into its floors. Opened in 2016, this tiny bar in Historic Filipinotown has a lively space filled with billiards and big booths of friends getting increasingly more drunk. Crawfords is beer-and-wine only, which might seem like a detriment, but that keeps the debauchery at relatively respectable levels. If you leave without getting at least one plate of the hot chicken (it’s some of our favorite in LA), you’ve done it all wrong.
After almost four years of buildout, All Season Brewing has officially opened its doors in and given LA something it’s never really had before - a brewery smack in the middle of the city. Located inside a former car service station on La Brea, All Season’s cavernous space has both indoor and outdoor seating, a row of skee-ball machines in the back, and a Chica’s Taco window for when you need to soak up some of the alcohol. Most people here are drinking beer (we love tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots as well. It definitely gets crowded on weekends, but if you come after work for a few rounds, you’ll walk right in.
The Mermaid has long been one of our favorite dives Downtown, but now this tiny Little Tokyo spot has taken things outside with a front parking lot patio that’s quadrupled its footprint. All the more room to get a little sloshed on tremendous tiki cocktails. Open weekdays until 1:30am and until 2am on the weekends, The Mermaid is a perfect spot to hit after a dinner out when nobody wants to go home yet. They also have a rotating bar food menu with tots and queso, chicken tacos, and loaded nachos.
From the outside, this tiny spot on Fairfax looks like it could be any generic bar, but inside it feels like you stepped into the bar car on a very dark, unrealistically good-looking train. There’s no real cocktail list here - you just tell the bartenders what you’re in the mood for and they’ll happily whip something up. And don’t worry - they somehow always get it right.
One of our favorite cocktail bars is back open for business, baby. Located above Low Boy in Echo Park, entering Bar Flores is like stepping into your childhood tree house – except with really great sangria. They’ve got a cozy back patio, perfect for dates or a pregame, plus a solid menu filled with some of the most fragrant cocktails in the game.
On June 17th, our favorite Downtown queer bar is officially reopening for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The entire opening weekend is packed with different events including guest DJs, an appearance from drag icon Meatball, and $3 beer from 3-9pm Sunday. Plus, no cover all weekend. Be sure to get there early and see you on the dance floor, girlies.
For years, The Victorian was one of those chaotic Santa Monica bars that everybody went to in their 20s and, like clockwork, never returned once they hit 30. That’s changed a bit now. Sure, there are still plenty of rowdy post-grads here who think they invented drinking Aperol spritzes, but thanks to an expanded front lawn patio, the place is big enough that you can create your own relaxed corner. If you’re roaming around on Main St. looking to day drink, The Victorian is a worthy pit stop.
El Cid wins the award for that place you always forget about (particularly after a year-long quarantine), but then visit once and judge yourself for not coming more. The Silver Lake bar isn’t much more than a door frame along Sunset, but walk down the stairs and you’ll pop out into a hidden drinking oasis. The cocktails are cheap, the crowd is cool, and the two-tiered patio is the ideal casual hangout spot whether it’s on a rowdy Friday night or for Sunday drag brunch. They’ve also reopened their indoor theater with nightly entertainment ranging from jam bands to queer cabarets.
Here And Now
For those keeping track at home, this is the second bar on this guide that reminds us of an upscale train car. And you know what? We’re content with that, because this neighborhood bar in the Arts District serves excellent old-school cocktails like gin martinis and bourbon Old Fashioneds, and who doesn’t love getting drunk on a train? The bar area itself is fairly small, so if it’s too crowded for your liking, head outside to their massive new back patio where you’re guaranteed to find an open table.
Walt’s Bar in Eagle Rock bills itself as an arcade bar, but it’s really just an excellent local dive bar that happens to have a row of pinball machines in the back. There’s a ’50s theme here that doesn’t feel corny, and an excellent selection of beer and wine. It’s a relaxed crowd, but you can still get a little rowdy here without feeling like you’re “that person” at the bar. Grab a giant soft pretzel with housemade beer cheese from the bar, and commandeer that Evil Knievel pinball machine you’ve had your eye on all night.
We discovered Alley Bar accidentally on a Friday night when Alibi Room across the street was too busy. This place bills itself as a speakeasy, and despite having some slightly cringy 2012 mixology vibes (bartenders in suspenders, faux taxidermy), it’s a really good time. Walk past Fin in Culver City and head down the alley, and duck into this little windowless bar. The lights are low, Hinge dates are definitely happening, and friend groups are ordering round after round of great cocktails. If you’re looking to mix things up and potentially meet someone new on the Westside, this is a great option.
Spirit House Echo Park
Right before the pandemic, we vowed to make Spirit House our new go-to kind-of-secret drinking spot (everyone needs one). Now we’re right back on schedule – for the uninitiated, you’ll find hidden beer garden in the back of Sticky Rice in Echo Park. They’ve moved into a larger outdoor space, complete with palm trees, red glowing lights, and lots of little tables, making for an atmosphere that’s a cross between a backyard BBQ and an episode of Euphoria.