Thunderbolt only opened earlier this year, but it already feels like a lived-in neighborhood bar. Located next to Park’s Finest in Echo Park, its low-lit leather couches, dark green walls, and speakers playing Jay-Z (like old, The Blueprint Jay-Z), make it ideal for everything from a first date to the monthly book club you’ve tried to start no less than four times. The menu is a mixed bag of hit-or-miss Southern-ish bar snacks like buttermilk biscuits and pork belly burnt ends, so you’re better off eating next door. You’re here for the drinks - which exist in that dangerous, highly coveted Venn diagram of very strong but still genuinely tasty. Our favorites are the La Frutera, with tequila, mango, and tamarind (order it spicy), and the Tropipop, which is sweet and tropical like a piña colada, but filled with so much rum you’ll forget that you’re not actually on vacation. But pretty much everything here pairs well with a discussion about hypothetically starting Sapiens with your friends from college.
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El Compadre Echo Park
El Compadre in Echo Park is a solid Mexican spot for a flaming margarita before a Dodgers game.
When you need a last-minute reservation and you don’t want to settle, remember Ostrich Farm - a seasonal American spot in Echo Park.
Bar Avalon is an all-day wine bar/restaurant in Echo Park that’s one of the best-kept secrets in town.
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State Social House
State Social House on the Sunset Strip is a relatively laid-back place to eat and drink. Laid-back for the Sunset Strip.
Checker Hall is a laid-back bar in Highland Park where you should be planning your next big group outing.
The Doughroom is a solid restaurant in Palms, an area of town without many solid restaurants.
Suggested by our writers
Bar Calo is a Mexican cocktail bar/restaurant in Echo Park that reminds you why you love LA.
Porridge and Puffs
Porridge and Puffs in Historic Filipinotown has Asian-inspired rice porridge, and a quiet, welcoming feel.
The Park’s Finest BBQ
A Filipino-Southern BBQ spot worth a visit. Hit it on Wednesdays for their try-it-all $12 special.
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