Whether you’ve been slaving away in a Financial District law firm or daydreaming about how to crowdsource your organic shoe company in the Arts District, one thing is true: after a long day of work, you’re thirsty. And now that DTLA is a place everyone wants to hang out, the after-work drink scene is intense. Most popular places will be packed by 4:30pm, and the people inside are there for one thing: Happy Hour.
Competition for the best drink and food specials is stronger here than anywhere else in the city, but that doesn’t mean all bars with a $5 margarita are created equal. So whether you’re heading out to unwind with co-workers, biding time before a game at Staples, or simply looking for a cheap way to get sloshed on a Tuesday, here is our updated guide to the best spots for after-work drinks in DTLA.
Mikkeller is simply the best place to drink beer downtown. The massive bar is in a converted discount tire store and has a huge list of local craft beer as well as stuff from Mikkeller’s own brewery. There aren’t any TVs here, so if you’re looking to catch a game after work with your over-eager post-grad coworkers, Mikkeller is not your spot. However, its convenient location just up the street from Staples makes it a good pre-drink place if you’re actually going to the game later. Get the burger.
The Stocking Frame is one of those secret downtown restaurants you walk into for the first time, assume it’s brand new, and then find out it’s actually been open for years. The large, picnic table-filled space is ideal for big groups who don’t necessarily want to commit to being at the same table together. Also their weekday Happy Hour from 2-6pm gets you $3 sparkling wine, $5 pints and sangria, and tons of food specials.
The rooftop bar at the Freehand Hotel took all of about five seconds to attract that aggressively predictable models and bottles crowd on the weekends, but on weekdays, the place remains fairly low-key. Drinks aren’t cheap, but you’re paying for great views and a pool area you could hang out all night in. If you’re looking to impress an out-of-town client, Broken Shaker is where you need to be.
If you spend one more second in the Financial District after work, you might actually have a nervous breakdown. So head to Resident over in the Arts District. The beer garden/music venue is one of the most reliable places to drink outdoors downtown, and they have a daily Happy Hour that runs from 12-7pm. Come hungry, there’s always plenty of food trucks around.
Bernadette’s is where you go when you manage to dodge all of coworker Jake’s insistent “yo, where drinks at tonight?” questioning and simply want to drink by yourself. The place is small and sort of feels like you’re in the basement of your uncle’s house who never got married, and that’s appealing after another week of corporate hell. Happy Hour runs daily from 4-7pm and includes an $11 beer and sandwich combo.
It doesn’t take long at this upscale sports bar to realize it fills a major void in the area. If you want to grab a drink and catch a little bit of the game after work, but not be submitted to the rowdy hoards over at the LA Live bars, Brack is your move. There are excellent cocktails, a great Happy Hour, and a Welsh Rare-Bit - a.k.a. rye bread covered in cheese and mustard. It’s phenomenal.
Linda’s feet hurt again, so she left early, and you got stuck with her sh*tty project again. Time to forget how much you hate that woman and go unwind on our favorite patio downtown - Everson Royce Bar. The craft beer and wine lists are long, but its two-hour Happy Hour narrows it down: select wine and cocktails are $7, and a pitcher of beer is $15. And no matter what, you aren’t leaving without the burger in your stomach.
West Hollywood’s favorite messy Irish pub is now downtown and it got one hell of an upgrade. Whatever claustrophobic muscle memory you have of the Sunset Strip location should be put to rest - this place is massive. There are two separate bars, a great outdoor patio, and a television everywhere you look. Oh, and those Irish nachos thankfully made the trip downtown as well.
As disappointing Clifton’s food continues to be (hence that rating you see), its cocktail situation is still excellent. Sure, the wilderness aesthetic makes Splash Mountain feel subtle, but sometimes that’s just the kind of escapism you need after another day of inhaling your boss’s corpse breath. There are actually a few different bars within Clifton’s, but the Monarch Bar is the one that does Happy Hour. And its fantastic craft cocktail list will repair any and all olfactory damage.
The casual Argentinian cafe over by Staples has stayed fairly under the radar, but it’s one of the area’s best spots for a quick drink and a bite to eat. Their Apertif Hour runs daily from 5-7pm, and everything from the Campari cocktails to the shot and the beer to the snack trio is a flat $8.
The classic Santa Monica standby opened in the heart of the Financial District a few years ago and basically became an after-work drinking magnet overnight. The 4-7pm Happy Hour has $5 beer and well drinks, and $6 wine and margaritas. And if you’re looking to grab some food, all tacos are $3.25. Not a bad way to cope with the fact that your boss hates you.
Pez Cantina seems like just another corporate downtown after-work spot, but this Mexican seafood restaurant has far more going for it. First off, the food is good and fresh, and given the area, it’s all pretty affordable. There’s also an excellent back patio and a daily Happy Hour from 3:30-7pm with $3 oysters and $8 craft beer, house cocktails, and select menu items that go far above your typical bar snack situation.
You completely blanked that today was your bi-monthly review and things did not go well. One good way to get away from it all? Go to one of the best rooftop patios in the city for an after-work drink situation that’ll get you all kinds of wine drunk. Looking out over Pershing Square, you might just be able to forget your boss told you he’s very aware you nap at your desk every day.
Library Bar has been a downtown drinking staple for a while now, but it’s after-work scene is the best time to go. The kitschy library theme is definitely present, but not in a way that makes you sad to be there. They have a strong beer and cocktail list ($5 margaritas), and an above-average bar food menu if you want to eat a grilled cheese and feel good about it.
B.S. Taqueria might be the casual older brother to the more upscale Broken Spanish, but it should never be looked at as an option B. This bright little taco joint is just as good as its sibling, with a lively atmosphere that makes it an ideal after-work drinks spot. The food is incredible and the cocktail game is just as strong. And during the 5:30-7pm Happy Hour, all of them are $6 each.
Yes, that Fleming’s. The upscale steakhouse chain might not exactly win your heart over with local flavor, but you can’t deny its downtown location as an after-work juggernaut. Why? The Five-Six-Seven menu. Every day from 5-7pm, Fleming’s puts out a Happy Hour food menu that might be the best in DTLA. The beer situation is a little dire, but if you’re in the mood for $5 wine or cocktails, you’ll be fine. And nothing beats that $8 cheeseburger.
Cole’s is probably best-known for being the “other” home of the original French Dip sandwich, but during their weekday Happy Hour (3-7pm, or Tuesdays all day), it contains something much more important - $1.50 tots. A heaping pile of the world’s most blessed food for only 150 pennies. The $6 beer list and French Dip sliders don’t hurt either.
If the after-work plan involves watching the Lakers lose, there’s no better move than Yard House. The LA Live sports bar mega-chain is a qualified bro-extravaganza, but whether you’re going to watch the game on TV or in person later at Staples across the street, Yard House is where it all begins. The food isn’t great (and will set you back a day’s worth of caloric intake), but the 100+ beer taps speak for themselves. Just eat beforehand and don’t get mad when you can’t find a seat.
It’s Thursday, you haven’t been able to differentiate workweeks since 2012, and you need whiskey. This dark, sexy bar has $5 Happy Hour cocktails (from open till 8pm) and $6 personal pizzas to soak it all up with.
It seems some people aren’t totally aware that one of LA’s best casual restaurants, Plan Check, has a downtown location. Well you do now, and that means their first-rate beer list and excellent bar food is ready your after-work needs. Come Happy Hour, which runs weekdays 11:30am-7pm, there’s $5 select draft beer and house wine, $8 cocktails, and a $9 jidori chicken sandwich that’s easily our favorite in town.
Deep in the heart of the Arts District is a tiny wine bar that’s one of those places you walk into and wonder why it’s taken you so long to get there. The industrial space is stark, but welcoming, with one of the best Happy Hours not just in downtown, but all of LA: $5 across the board for sangria, beer, and wine. All food is $5 as well, including an excellent oxtail taco.