It’s an exciting time - you’re back in the dating game. But that also means you have to do that thing where you meet someone for the first time and also advertise yourself as a stable person for two hours. Aka, the first date. You need a bar where you both can hear each other, somewhere that’s not so fancy it’s uncomfortable, and preferably serves great drinks along the way. From cocktail bars to wine places to a divey spot with a jukebox you’ll use to prove your superior taste in music, LA has plenty of great first date options to get this relationship started off right. Here 16 bars you can depend on. Don’t screw this up.
If the idea of sitting in a quiet bar sipping chardonnay and nodding along to conversations about how humid it is outside sounds like a nightmare to you, go to The Dresden. The Los Feliz classic is weird and wild and unlike anything else in LA. There’s a full restaurant section off to the left, but skip that and head right to the bar area where the iconic jazz duo, Marty and Elayne, have been performing every week since the 1980’s. Drinks are strong and affordable and if Marty and Elayne can’t get sparks flying, nothing can.
Bar Angeles is a restaurant/bar right on Sunset Blvd in Los Feliz and a great first date option because you can make the place into whatever you want it to be. Feel like just grabbing a quick beer or two at the bar before heading home? Or sitting down at a table, ordering some wine, and eating a late-night pizza (the kitchen’s open till 1am on the weekends)? Both routes, and everything in between, are possible here. The space is fun and casual, without ever getting rowdy, and the house cocktails are fantastic.
Despite all the great bars downtown, finding one that works for a first date is not as easy as it should be. But Mezcalero gets the job done. The vastly underrated mezcal bar on Broadway is the kind of place you walk into randomly for a quick cocktail and end up curled up in a booth at midnight sharing each other’s five year plans. There’s also a great front patio, a foosball table, and a four-hour Happy Hour every day. And those mezcal cocktails are definitely worth investigating.
You initially bonded over your mutual disdain for well drinks and now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Go to Accomplice. The tiny bar in West LA is serving the best cocktails west of the 405, in a calm environment that never ends up being boring. The drinks aren’t cheap (nothing falls under $12), but they’re also actually worth the money. If things are going well, you can order in food from the Taiwanese spot next door.
While the claustrophobic chaos of the original Father’s Office on Montana is part of the allure, you should avoid it at all costs for a first date. At the Culver City location, however, you can actually sit and talk and not have a drunk dude elbow you in the spine all night. The burger is the reason most people come here, but Father’s Office is underrated as a place to simply grab a pint of craft beer or a glass of wine and actually see if you’re into this person. Obviously, you’re still ordering the burger.
We don’t need to tell you that wine will always set the mood. However, most wine bars (with their high prices and stuffy atmospheres) have a tendency to kill it. Not Tabula Rasa. The new wine (and beer) bar along Hollywood Blvd. in Thai Town keeps things cool and unpretentious. Also, that snack menu is not to be ignored. Split the Cubano or live a life of solitude.
Sunset Beer Co. isn’t really a bar. It’s a beer store/hangout space where you can play some board games and drink whatever you just bought from the refrigerator. It’s low-key, cool, and the least intimidating place to drink in LA. And for that reason alone, all your nerves for meeting someone off a two-month old app will dissipate. People are having fun, actually talking to each other, and enjoying some of the best craft beer you’ll find on the Eastside. Just make sure you let your date win a few times in Scattergories.
Know Where Bar is one of the most overlooked bars in Hollywood. The casual spot right on the edge of Thai Town is that place you go to when you’re sick of long lines, $15 cocktails, and bartenders who only care about taking your money. Come here for a midweek date, get involved with some house-made sangria or beer tumblers, throw a record on the jukebox, and see if this relationship has any legs to it.
Down on La Brea and Wilshire and the never-ending subway construction, there’s a little strip of bars and restaurants that gets passed over by everyone who doesn’t live within walking distance. Namely - Little Bar. The small, divey spot doesn’t have a shtick or theme (though it’s certainly eccentrically decorated), just affordable drinks, a laid-back atmosphere, and plenty of booths to hide away in.
Anyone who’s ever had drinks along Main Street in Santa Monica knows it caters far more to Fireball shots and regret than building long-term relationships, but Library Alehouse is the rare exception. The laid-back spot does regular tap takeovers from local breweries, so if craft beer is your common ground, this place is especially ideal. And even if it’s not, the calm back patio, the burger, and her Icelandic-mountain-lake eyes will do the rest.
Seven Grand is one of the more well-known spots to grab a cocktail downtown. A slightly lesser known spot? Bar Jackalope, the tiny whiskey specialty bar in the back of Seven Grand. The candlelit spot is straight-up sexy, and its tiny space keeps things pretty intimate. The cocktails are as good as they get (even for non-whiskey drinkers) and the cigar patio is a needed respite to get some air.
You’re thinking about suggesting Cassia to her, but the thought of a full sit-down dinner just doesn’t seem right tonight. Instead, go next door to Esters - the adjoining wine bar with the same great atmosphere, but only half the commitment. Get involved with some cheese and charcuterie, the long wine list, and even the attached retail shop. If things go well, you’ll need that bottle for the second date.
Blue Collar rides that fine line between a high-end cocktail bar and a low-key neighborhood hang. If you’re looking to impress a little on the first date and show this person you know what a good cocktail tastes like, this is your place. If you want to grab a small booth and still be able to hear each other, this is also your place.
30+ rotating beer stock? Easy to get into? Kogi BBQ tacos on the premises? These are three pillars to a great first date and Alibi Room has them all. The Culver City standby has been around for years now, and remains that cool, dependable spot you always know will deliver. It’s also dimly lit, with hidden tables in the corners for late-night...snuggling.
If you’re looking to keep it simple, but still make it interesting, the Bar at The Culver Hotel is a great option. The historical hotel in downtown Culver has an old Hollywood feel without the crowds and scene of actual Hollywood. The cocktail list is full of classics like sidecars and mules, but if you notice a Wizard of Oz theme too, you aren’t imagining it. This is the same hotel the actors were housed in during the original production, and you don’t even have to source us when you tell your date that.
This bare-bones Highland Park cocktail bar is the ideal stop after a great dinner and both of you aren’t ready to say good night yet. The space is dark and somewhat muted, but not in the snoozy way you’re imagining. The cocktails are tremendous, and unlike the popular Hollywood cocktail bars, you won’t have to wait 45 minutes to get one.