20 Hollywood Bars That Don’t SuckHollywood’s nightlife is intense. We’re here to help you navigate it.
Hollywood can be a strange place, and we don’t mean that in the Xanadu or Oz type of way. A night out in LA’s most iconic neighborhood can quickly feel like way more than you likely signed up for. It’s vast, intense, grungy, clubby, and to a large swath of the population—somewhat repulsive. And while we understand that perspective, we also happen to know Hollywood is full of bars that are worth your time.
From dive bars and cocktail spots to strip clubs and speakeasies (that were actually once real speakeasies), Hollywood’s nightlife mix is about as eclectic as it gets. So put on your drinking shoes—here are the Hollywood bars you need to know about.
Spending time at this laidback wine bar on Melrose is not so different than crashing a green room after-party at The Largo. Half the place fills with people who have Netflix comedy specials in the works, while the rest of the crowd drinks funky French riesling with reckless abandon. You might see people snacking on marinated tomatoes and serrano ham, but this place is primarily for drinking wine. Come with a group of people who are down for a marathon Tuesday hang that ends with everybody leaving their car overnight. Just know you might have to wait if you arrive after 6pm.
Honey's is a clubby queer bar at Star Love (a cocktail spot in East Hollywood) where there’s something different happening on any given night: karaoke Wednesdays, upbeat house DJ sets, comedy nights, and even queer night markets. There's a wraparound bar up front and a dance room in the back, so even if you come out on a weekday, it’ll feel like a Friday night. While this place is lesbian-focused, it’s also very inclusive of everyone. They’ve got $10 well drinks Wednesday through Saturday from 6-8pm, and they’re usually strong enough that you’d only need one or two before hopping on stage to perform your fully choreographed dance to “Fergalicious.”
There’s a lot of history at Grandmaster Records––artists like Stevie Wonder and Bowie made the magic here when the space was a recording studio. Nowadays, it’s a pricey Australian-ish restaurant where the music is more of a theme, and if you’re not interested in dropping money on caviar cannolis in the restaurant, head up to the stylish rooftop bar instead. You’ll find comfy dark green sofas, a bar that serves delicious spritzes mixed with things like passionfruit and cucumber, and sweeping views of the Hollywood skyline (STD billboards included). Consider this bar a chill spot to kick off a big night with conversation and a few rounds of good drinks.
It doesn’t take long for most Hollywood bars to start to blend together. But then you walk into Tramp Stamp Granny’s and realize your jaded heart is still capable of being surprised. Located right on the Cahuenga corridor, TSG is a piano bar, but not the sleepy kind with some guy in the corner whistling to the Rat Pack. Think Mamma Mia sing-alongs, Mary J. Blige rap-offs, and some random guy in a flannel button-down absolutely crushing “Defying Gravity.” Granny’s is our favorite place to drink in Hollywood right now.
We are so relieved to tell you that Power House is back and nothing has really changed. After going dark for a few years, this bar at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland remains unpretentious, kind of grimy, and still serves perfectly satisfactory well drinks. There are no heavy-handed gimmicks or themes, and despite its location, tourists never seem to find their way in, resulting in reasonable prices and bartenders who don’t hate you by default. That’s what makes it one of our absolute favorite bars in Hollywood, and an essential pit stop before or after the Hollywood Bowl. Like our own children or the humongous La Salsa Man on PCH in Malibu, we would do anything for this endearingly unremarkable bar.
Located on top of the Thompson Hotel, this rooftop bar does a good job of disguising that you’re right off Hollywood Boulevard with its dim lighting and chic atmosphere, but all of that can change depending on the night. Come to Bar Lis on weeknights for jazz concerts and cocktails with canapés, because Saturdays get packed with out-of-towners and social media stars dancing to remixes of disco tracks. And sure, drinks here are on the pricier side, but you’re paying for the views and the fact that you’re actually enjoying an LA rooftop for once.
When Clark Street took over Coffee Shop 101, they left the iconic diner on Franklin completely intact. Phew. Guess what? Lily's Bar—just down the hallway from the diner at the same Best Western—got the same treatment. Formerly MiniBar, the tiny drinking hole maintains the look and feel of a membership-only airport lounge in the 1960s—there’s a dark, wrap-around bar, a drinks menu filled with every classic cocktail in the book, and the ever-present possibility that you might go home with a pilot. OK, there are probably zero pilots at Lily’s, but it’s fun to dream. If you’re looking for a sexy (but not too sexy) midweek drink date spot, keep Lily’s in your back pocket.
Located in a hidden space above the 800 Degrees Pizzeria on Vine, it’d be easy to write off Sunset & Vinyl as another speakeasy you aren’t in the mood for tonight. But this place is the opposite. It takes a second to find (walk into 800 Degrees and head down the hall next to the “Pick-up Orders” sign), but once you do, you’ll stumble into a fantastic little cocktail bar with well-made drinks, big cushy chairs to sit in, and an impressive vinyl collection for when you want to impress a first date with your DJ skills.
Hotel Cafe is one of our favorite live music venues in the city, and the kind of place you go see an indie band with your music-obsessed friend and end up watching Jack Antonoff do a surprise acoustic set at 11:30pm. The small space along Cahuenga (entrance is in the back alley) has shows every day of the week, and while some will certainly sell out, it’s very possible to just stroll in, grab a strong cocktail from the bar, and check out who’s playing that night.
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The moment you step onto the jam-packed dance floor at Gold Diggers, you’ll feel like an extra in an early 2000s Ciara music video. This dark, divey dance hall on Santa Monica Blvd. hosts free DJ sets and ticketed live performances almost every night of the week. And it’s one of the few places in LA where the people actually dance. Gold Diggers is part bar, part club, and part boutique hotel—so depending on how your night goes, you could theoretically stay the night. Bring a group the next time you decide to unleash that new shirt you bought, and prepare to sweat it out while dancing to funk and soul jams under a crystal chandelier.
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 on the weekends. And the woodsy interior (yep, those are stumps for seats) is not nearly as dumb as it sounds.
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.
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 1930s, 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.
Where do we even start with you, Jumbo’s? You’re a Hollywood icon. You’re one of our favorite nights out in LA. You’re also a strip club— 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.
Greetings from one of the most under-appreciated nightlife spots in all of LA. With bars on the windows and almost no signage, Plaza looks like a closed-down nail salon from the 80s, but it’s very much open. And hiding inside is one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets—a nightly Latinx drag show that’s one of the most objectively fun experiences in the neighborhood. The huge space has great energy, affordable drinks, a big dance floor, and a brand of entertainment you never knew you needed so badly.
The menu at this industrial spot is an ever-changing list of insane cocktails, but the main draw at Harvard & Stone is 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.
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 plays on Santa Monica Blvd., 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 and stand-ups to disco dance parties.
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 directly around the corner from The Pantages, Lost Property is the low-key whiskey bar and a great place to get liquored up before sitting through two hours of Annie.
The Well is great because there’s 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.
If you’re a comedian or a friend of someone who considers themself 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 affordable, 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.