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 worth your time as well.
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 pull up your drinking boots - here are the Hollywood bars you need to know about.
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.
Sunset & Vinyl
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.
Mini Bar feels like a membership-only airport lounge in the 1960s. In reality, it’s the ground-floor bar of a Best Western off a 101 Freeway exit. This dimly-lit bar has excellent cocktails and a low-key atmosphere that’s perfect for your date that’s going way better than you expected. If you get hungry, 101 Coffee Shop is right across the lobby, serving solid diner food until 3am every night.
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. 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.
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 geek friend and end up watching Justin Timberlake 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.
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 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 lets you easily do that.
Unless you count that row of daybeds at Mama Shelter you stiff-armed a French tourist for, Hollywood really doesn’t have many places that work for big groups. Brickyard Pub is an exception. The neighborhood billiards and beer bar on Wilcox has a massive space with everything from shuffleboard to darts to beer pong tables for you and your friends. Happy Hour runs every day from 7-9pm.
Lono is a big tiki bar right on Hollywood Blvd. that’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 a few years ago it got a makeover, and reopened as its best self. The old-Hollywood feel is still there, except now it’s a place where you want to 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.
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 80s, 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.
This might be the most popular bar in Los Angeles. Davey Wayne’s struck absolute gold with this 1970s 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 1970s were actually like, we missed our era.
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.
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.
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.
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 flip-flop and board short tragedy that is 33 Taps, Lost Property is the low-key whiskey bar this area desperately needed. And your ideal spot for a nightcap.
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.
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 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.
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.