Hollywood is one of the most iconic epicenters of debauchery in the history of the world. It’s vast, intense, grungy, clubby, and to a large swath of the population - fairly repulsive. And while we understand that perspective, we also happen to know Hollywood is full of places that are actually worth your time as well.
From dive bars and cocktail spots to strip clubs and speakeasies (that were actually once real speakeasies), Hollwood’s nightlife mix is about as eclectic as it gets. So pull up your drinking boots - here are the Hollywood bars you need to know about.
If a friend suggested grabbing a drink at a bar on the ground floor of a Super 8 Motel, you’d normally be concerned. Unless that bar was Girl At The White Horse - one of the best new places to drink in LA. The space might be small, but it’s filled with little nooks and crannies that make it feel like it goes on forever. They have strong drinks, a patio in the back, and a tiny dance floor with a disco ball that gets wild in a hurry.
If you’re still waiting for your invite (that’ll never come) to Magic Castle, head over to Black Rabbit Rose for the next best thing. The magic show theater on Hollywood Blvd. is actually two concepts in one - a speakeasy bar with a hidden Thai food menu up front and a ticketed theater experience in the back. You can do both of them in the same night or just stroll/stumble in for a quick drink and some khao soi at the bar. Tickets for the show usually sells out, so get them in advance on their website.
The classic Hollywood pub is back and this time it’s taken over the Mud Hen Tavern space on Highland Blvd. No, they don’t have that great courtyard from their old Sunset Blvd. space, but with a fun, colorful interior and a patio in the back, you won’t miss it too much. The Cat & Fiddle has always been about grabbing a few low-key beers with friends and stumbling home and this new location let’s you easily do that.
Lono is a big tiki bar right on Hollywood Blvd. and has been popular pretty much since the day it opened. That said, there’s rarely a line and the crowd is still surprisingly laid-back and void of the club rats that tend to dominate this part of the neighborhood. There’s also an entire restaurant in the back, but you should definitely focus your energy mostly on the strong and delicious tiki drinks coming from the front bar. And if you happen to land one of the booths going along the wall, you’ll get waiter service.
Mama Shelter is a hotel rooftop bar/restaurant and come weekend afternoons, there isn’t a harder place to get into in Hollywood. But if you can sneak in during an off-time (weekday evenings) you’ll find a big roof space with solid cocktails, good snacks, and some of the best people-watching in town. Seeing the sun set over the mountains doesn’t hurt either.
This dime-sized bar along Vine hasn’t been open for long, but is one of those places you walk into and wonder why you don’t come here more often. There’s a cool old-Hollywood feel to the place, complete with classic cocktails and live jazz music on Tuesdays. It’s a great jumping off point before a night out, or for a cocktail after work.
Know Where Bar is one of the most overlooked bars in Hollywood. The casual spot right on the edge of Thai Town is the place to go when you’re sick of long lines, $15 cocktails, and bartenders who only care about taking your money. Come here for a midweek date or a quick drink with friends, order some house-made sangria, throw a record on the jukebox, and wonder why it took you so long to discover this place.
The Woods isn’t just one of our favorite bars in Hollywood, it’s one of our favorite bars in all of Los Angeles. Situated on the ground floor of a fantastically shady strip mall on La Brea, The Woods is everything you want in a neighborhood bar: great crowds, cheap drinks, fantastic music, and zero lines. The space is small and dark, but there always seems to be enough room to dance uncontrollably in the back. And the woodsy interior (yep, those are stumps for seats) is not nearly as dumb as it sounds.
Blue Palms is where you go if you want to watch the game, but also want to drink great beer. There are a number of TVs here, but it should tell you something that the biggest one in the joint is the one displaying the rotating beer menu above the bar. Despite its location right on Hollywood Blvd, Blue Palms also doesn’t have any of the painful rowdiness you’re expecting - just a truffle burger worth a long-distance drive.
Welcome to LA’s bus stop. Nowhere in Hollywood will you find a wider variety of human beings than at this classic dive. Directly next door to The Pantages Theatre and open since the 1930’s, this is where struggling Silver Lake musicians rub shoulders with Hollywood executives and lost theatergoers buy spoken-word EPs from dudes in kabuki makeup. Anything’s possible at Frolic Room, and everyone’s here to enjoy the same dirt cheap drinks and do-whatever-the-hell-you-want atmosphere.
Not only did La Descarga put a nightlife juggernaut on one of the more desolate strips in Hollywood, but it also flat-out changed the potential of what an LA bar could be. From the entrance that’s disguised as a 1920’s armoire, to the burlesque-style salsa dancers, to the secret Cuban cigar lounge, La Descarga is a real experience. And one that definitely requires a reservation. So put in that minimal effort and go rhumba the night away at one of the best bars in the city.
Holy sh*t. Where do we even start with you Jumbo’s? You’re a Hollywood icon. You’re one of our favorite nights out in LA, period. Yes, you’re a strip club. But a strip club we’ll happily wait an hour outside to get into, because you’re worth it every time. Your energy and crowd (and dancers) are unlike anything else in this town, and your cheap drinks and heavy pours get us exactly where we need to be. Never, ever change Jumbo’s. Love, The Infatuation.
Next Door Lounge falls into the old Hollywood speakeasy category (with an always- changing password to boot), but it works because they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s never particularly hard to get into, the crowd is laid-back, the drinks are good, and there’s even a three-hour Happy Hour on weekdays. Oh, and they host a murder mystery dinner every once in a while. Get involved.
We appreciate The Pikey for several reasons. Its aggressive English pub interior is oddly comforting, the beer list is stellar, and everything on the menu is apparently organic and that means those fish and chips are healthy. Right? Right. But above all else, The Pikey stands out as an incredibly laid-back bar that’s easy to get into, right on the cusp of when things generally start to fall apart (read: The Sunset Strip).
Located on a still-waiting-for-its-moment stretch of Vine, Sassafras’ aggressive “Old South” theme would be a bit much if it wasn’t all so impressive. There’s an actual Savannah townhouse inside this place. From actual Georgia. That was deconstructed and then rebuilt inside a bar in Hollywood, CA. America is for dreamers. The cocktail list continues to be among the best around, and there’s fantastic live music pretty much any night of the week.
Power House has been around forever and was always a symbol of Hollywood’s seedy past. But it recently got a makeover, and reopened as its best self. The old-Hollywood feel is still there, except now it’s actually a place that’s appealing to grab a drink. The cocktails are fantastic, and if you can get over the fact that it’s across the street from an unsettling wax museum, you’re in for a great night.
This might be the most popular bar in Los Angeles. Davey Wayne’s struck absolute gold with this 1970’s house-party themed spot that no one in their right mind could be bored at. After you walk through a refrigerator via a vintage garage sale, you’re delivered into a house with a kitchen, a living room, and a backyard where sno-cones and tiki drinks are being served. There’s live music and, if you’re lucky, even a roller-skating show on the roof. If this is what the 1970’s were actually like, we missed our era.
The Well is great because there’s actually not much to it. Located in what’s basically an office tower’s loading dock, The Well is where you grab a drink with friends when you don’t have time to deal with anything else. It’s always easy to get into, and extremely well-priced considering the area. There’s not a theme, or a wacky entrance, or really much of anything. It’s just a bar. With alcohol. And that’s oddly refreshing in Hollywood.
We’ll be the first to admit that the mixology thing can get annoying. But Harvard & Stone does it well. The menu at this industrial-designed spot is an ever-changing list of insane cocktails, but the main draw at Harvard & Stone is actually the live music, with a blues or rock band playing up front almost every night. You kind of feel like you’re dancing in the sewers here, and that’s way more fun than you think.
Greetings from one of the most under-appreciated nightlife spots in all of Los Angeles. With bars on the windows and almost no signage, Plaza looks like a closed-down nail salon from the 80’s, but it’s very much open. And hiding inside is one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets - a nightly Latino drag show that’s one of the strangest, most fun experiences Hollywood can give you. The huge space has a great energy, dirt cheap drinks, a weird dance floor, and a brand of entertainment you never knew you needed so badly.
The Three Clubs is one of our favorite Hollywood dive bars because it’s a place you can pick up a drink and sit in peace. If you’re an actor, you’ve definitely been here after one of your indie plays on Santa Monica, and if you eat burritos, you’ve stopped here en route to Cactus, the tiny taqueria down the street. There’s also a whole separate performance space through the swinging doors that books everything from jam bands to stand-ups.
Located next to absolutely nothing on Santa Monica Blvd., Black’s isolated nature works in its favor. It’s relatively easy to spend an entire night here without realizing it. And on weekends, that’s exactly what people do. Black has an open-aired back patio that makes the giant crowd of people they let in here feel far more manageable.
The Roosevelt Hotel is one of the best things to happen to Hollywood since the creation of Hollywood, and The Spare Room is easily our favorite space on the property. Located on the second floor of the iconic hotel, The Spare Room is a good cocktail bar known for one thing: bowling. There are two full bowling lanes in this throwback lounge, and scores are kept the old-fashioned way - by writing them down. The wait gets serious for it though, so put your name in early and go get drunk while you wait.
If you’re a comedian or a friend of someone who considers themselves a comedian, you’ve been to Boardner’s. The dim, 80-year-old bar is a go-to for post-show drinks, and after that public breastfeeding joke tanked during your set, you’ll need it. The atmosphere is super casual, drinks are cheap, and the bar food menu is actually pretty good. The history of this place is pretty insane too, but there’s not enough room to get into it here. Just know sh*t went down.
Lost Property is one of those bars you walk into and say “Wait, how long has this been here?” The answer is longer than you think, but its nondescript Hollywood and Vine location has kept it pretty under-the-radar. Located in the repurposed event space of the flip-flop and board short tragedy that is 33 Taps around the corner, Lost Property is the low-key whiskey bar this area desperately needed. And your ideal spot for a nightcap.
To L Bar on Sunset, the greatest bar that ever has and will ever exist. You left us only a few years ago, but it seems like an eternity. You changed us, formed us, and made us realize it’s completely ok to try a power split in a dance circle of strangers. We love you and miss you, and know you’re making a lot of angels very happy in Bar Heaven. Rest in peace, friend.