It’s 4:30pm on a Friday, and your best friend just sent the “what are we doing tonight?” text. Thus commences the weekly ritual of trying come up with a fun place to go to, and the inevitable return to the exact same bar you were at last weekend. Nightlife fatigue is real in this city, and the only way to get through it is to keep tabs on all the places you do actually like. Easier said than done. So let us help. Whether it’s that dive from your old neighborhood you never get back to anymore, or that crazy dance bar you went to three years ago and can’t remember the name of, here are some great LA bars everybody always forgets about.
Between Boystown, the Sunset Strip, and the mess that is La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood has more places to drink than it knows what to do with. But in between all the dance clubs, rooftop lounges, and overpriced cocktail bars is The Pikey. The often-overlooked English pub on Sunset has an aggressive tavern feel, and you will start pretending you’re a medieval diplomat after a few beers, but that’s exactly why we like it. It’s a rare relaxed Weho bar where you can grab a drink with friends, and not have to commit to some inane night of waiting in lines in uncomfortable shoes. Their extensive beer list and solid food menu don’t hurt either.
Know Where is a casual cocktail bar in East Hollywood that’s where you go to when you’re sick of long lines, $17 drinks, and dudes in clubs fighting about whether or not somebody looked at them weird. This is the kind of spot you choose for a midweek date nightcap and then end up coming back the next day by yourself simply because you like being here. The teal-painted space is small and narrow, but feels like you’re drinking in your uncle’s basement in Fort Lauderdale. Happy Hour runs 5-7pm daily, and Tuesdays are tequila and mezcal night, with its own special cocktail menu.
There’s always that moment at the end of a long night out when you’re completely over the bar you’re currently at, but not quite ready to go home either. Which is when you should remember Snake Pit, the classic dive on Melrose that’s the best last call bar in the city. Here you’ll find cheap drinks that actually have alcohol in them, bartenders who won’t ignore you, and a jukebox for you and your friends to take over.
We love sitting on Everson Royce Bar’s patio, drinking margaritas, and eating burgers just as much as you do. But sometimes we have to change it up a bit, and a place that continually falls through the Arts District cracks is Westbound. This tiny cocktail bar’s location on the ground floor of a massive apartment complex is pretty random, but once you’re inside, you’ll realize you should have been here sooner. The place looks like a train car for rich people in the 1940’s, with friendly bartenders serving good cocktails and a snacks menu that’s way better than it needs to be.
Located on a quiet stretch of Beverly Blvd. in Historic Filipinotown, Crawford’s isn’t a place you find yourself walking past. But this tiny beer-and-wine-only dive bar next to a Taco Bell has become one of our favorite places to drink. The crowd is full of low-key people pulling off that wool beanie and suspenders look, the craft beer list is fantastic, there’s buck hunter in the corner, and they serve a fried chicken sandwich behind the bar that rivals the one in Chinatown you just waited three hours for.
When it comes to a night out on the Eastside, Bar Bandini is never the first place that comes to mind. But this Echo Park wine bar deserves to be in your rotation. Bandini is one of those places that always seems to get the mood right - weekdays involve regulars drinking wine from the tap, and eating a part-burrata, part-mozzarella cheese that will change you. Come weekends, things get livelier, but never to the point where you have to worry about getting a lemon drop thrown in your face. In fact, it’s beer and wine only. But it’s also very far from being boring.
Probably due to the never-ending subway construction and storefronts mainly filled with Quiznos and Coffee Bean, Mid-Wilshire isn’t exactly where most people think to go out. And for that reason, Little Bar is often forgotten about. Located within a tiny strip of bars and restaurants at Wilshire and La Brea, Little Bar is the kind of place you walk in for a quick drink and walk out three hours later hammered. This is a total neighborhood bar, but one with a fantastic crowd who has no problem getting a little rowdy on a weekend - in a good way. Bonus: You can have food delivered.
Big Dean's Ocean Front Cafe1615 Ocean Front Walk
You’re at the Santa Monica beach with your friends and all those Gatorade bottles that were never actually filled with Gatorade are out. The day is young though, and the last thing you want to do is pack up completely. Head to Big Dean’s. The beachside bar right off the boardwalk is a classic, but due to its somewhat awkward location next to the base of the pier, people still tend to forget about it. But you shouldn’t. They have a great front and back patio, a good burger, and given the area, extremely affordable drinks.
Alibi Room is in that part of Culver City west of the 405 that most people don’t realize is still Culver City. But this low-key cocktail bar is a great option when you’re tired of drinking in Venice. Alibi has been around for over 10 years and is this neighborhood’s trusty standby. There’s an extensive craft beer list, cocktails, and a late-night Happy Hour Sunday-Wednesday. Oh, and there are kogi truck tacos on the menu.
In Hollywood, you have to either be pretty flashy or gimmicky to get a crowd. The Well is neither of those things, and that’s often why it gets passed over. But it shouldn’t. Located in the bottom of a big office building at Sunset and Argyle, if you think you’re walking into a loading dock, that means you’ve found The Well. It’s a surprisingly large space with plenty of corners for you and your friends to take over, strong drinks, and jukebox, and a 5 - 8pm Happy Hour on weekends. This is your jumping off point before a night out in Hollywood.
From the outside, Blue Collar seems like a random neighborhood dive bar. But it’s actually an art deco-designed cocktail bar that’s home to the best drinks in West Hollywood you never knew about. Blue Collar has no set menu, you just tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for, and they’ll make you something on the spot. The place can get crowded during peak weekend hours, but come midweek, it’s a perfect spot to end a good date.
Finding places where you can dance in LA that aren’t complete nightmare club hellscapes can be a treacherous journey, particularly on the Westside. But one place that always manages to get the dance floor right and fly a bit under-the-radar is The Room. During the week, this dimly-lit Santa Monica bar is a solid place to grab a cocktail with a friend, but come weekends, the place turns into a full-throttle dance party of the best variety. Expect a lot of Top 40, rap, and old-school hip hop.