In case you haven’t heard, Angelenos can drink in public again. It’s a sad day for sectional couches, but a great one for anyone who’s at their best when having heart-to-hearts with strangers in line for the bathroom. But with guidelines still in place, such as all parties must be seated at a table (a.k.a. no crowding the bar with your hand in the air), it can be tough to know where it’s appropriate to let loose a little. After all, there’s a celebratory vibe in the air right now and you want to revel in it. Here are 11 places where you can do just that, responsibly.
We frankly could put any bar in Boystown on this list (Rocco’s, Beaches, Hi, Tops, and Trunks, we see you), but for now, we’re going with The Abbey. This sprawling drinking metropolis is one of the most popular bars in all of LA, and that fact hasn’t changed as things have reopened. Expect lines down Robertson all weekend, and though the dance floor is still closed, that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of revelry. Come on Sundays for a surprisingly delicious drag brunch with everything from chorizo-filled breakfast burritos to potstickers.
There’s really nothing quite like Dan Sung Sa on a Saturday night. The dark, all-wood tavern has a big tent in their front parking lot, smoke from the central grill hanging like mist over the tables inside, and a crowd that’s pounding Hite like it’s the last batch in the world. The whole scene is a beautiful, drunken dreamscape. There’s also a large menu full of skewers, kimchi pancakes, and other excellent dishes, all of which are designed to hold off your inevitable hangover.
If you’re looking to get after it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon on the Westside, SM Brew Works is where you should head. We wouldn’t exactly call their massive outdoor patio rowdy, but it always seems to be packed with a laid-back crowd who are well-trained in the art of day-drinking. When the beer does start to catch up though, there’s a fantastic crop of rotating food trucks on the premises waiting for you. Plus, the dog watching is also top-notch here, which is exactly the activity we want to participate in after four IPAs.
After almost four years of buildout, All Season Brewing officially opened its doors in February 2021 and gave LA something it’s never really had before - a brewery smack in the middle of the city. Located inside a former car service station on La Brea, All Season’s cavernous space has both indoor and outdoor seating, a row of skee-ball machines in the back, and a Chica’s Taco window for when you need to soak up some of the alcohol. Most people here are drinking beer (we love tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots as well. Also, there are phone-charging units hiding under the bar, alleviating one of the most terrifying drunk scenarios of the 21st century.
Spirit House Echo Park
When Spirit House opened in 2019, it was a tiny speakeasy, hidden behind a red curtain inside the Echo Park location of Sticky Rice. Fast forward today, and this cocktail bar has moved entirely outside to the back beer garden with music blasting, delicious tiki-style cocktails, and a Sunday fish fry courtesy of Lazy J’s. In other words, it’s the ideal day drinking spot. If you miss the fish fry though, you can always order from Sticky Rice’s tremendous Thai menu, and in particular, our favorite panang curry in town.
The Mermaid has long been one of our favorite dives in Downtown, but now this tiny Little Tokyo spot has taken things outside with a front parking lot patio that’s quadrupled its footprint. All the more room to get a little sloshed on tremendous tiki cocktails. Open weekdays until 1:30am and until 2am on the weekends, The Mermaid is a perfect spot to hit after a dinner out when nobody wants to go home, since that’s where we’ve all been for the last 14 months. They also have a rotating bar food menu with dishes like tots and queso, chicken tacos, and loaded nachos.
Come weekends, this North Hollywood spot’s front patio can get pretty wild. With a full outdoor bar and everything from cornhole to life-sized Connect Four, if your group of friends can’t find fun here, you need new friends. Plus, drinks are served in gigantic plastic goblets, and there’s a 2 for $2 more drink special (buy one drink and the next one is $2) that runs all day, every day.
Hollywood’s Mama Shelter is one of the most consistently fun rooftops in the city - they’ve got great cocktails including seven different types of mules, a large California-based wine list, and a surprisingly bearable weekend brunch crowd. But finding a table in the middle of the day on a weekend here can be pretty competitive (they don’t take reservations), so that’s why we recommend using it more as a midweek after-work drinks spot instead. There’s a fraction of the crowd, the drinks are just as strong, and you get to watch the sunset with coworkers who will be just as hungover as you for the Zoom call tomorrow.
If you’ve missed Casita’s warm, neighborhood atmosphere and strong margaritas as much as we have, the Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake is back open with not one, but three new outdoor patios. There are string lights hanging everywhere, umbrellas for shade during the day, and tons of foliage that make the whole space feel like you’re hanging out in that one friend’s backyard who has 50 bird of paradise plants lining the perimeter. In other words, the ideal atmosphere for one too many margaritas.
The second this massive complex opened in Marina del Rey in 2016, it became the de facto spot for simultaneous craft beer drinking and sports watching on the Westside - a title Firestone Walker has yet to forego. There’s now a big tented outdoor patio, plus limited seating inside if you want to be closer to the TVs. They also brew right on site with their signature beers being rustic, unfiltered ales you won’t find anywhere else. When you need something to go with all the hops, there’s a wide-ranging menu filled with everything from tri-tip pizza to chicken tinga tacos.
Remember karaoke bars? While places from Sawtelle to Ktown have reopened their doors, if you’re looking to get truly weird with your friends, go to Max Karaoke. The iconic bar inside the Little Tokyo Galleria mall is offering private rooms for three to twenty-five people, plus one of the most thorough song books in the city. What makes Max so special, though, is their BYOB policy. You’re allowed to bring unlimited wine and beer (and obviously, hard seltzer), making your night not just a wild one, but one where you aren’t continuously spending money on drinks.