The Best Bars In The Valley guide image


The Best Bars In The Valley

The 12 best places to get your drink on in The Valley.

Weho, Hollywood, Ktown, Downtown - these are the neighborhoods you tend to think of when planning a big night out in LA. But The Valley? Not so much. And though our massive neighbor to the North probably won’t ever be considered a beacon of LA nightlife, to say there’s no reason to get your drink on here would be a mistake. In fact, some of the craziest bars in the city are over the hill - you just have to know where to find them. So split that Uber fare among your friends and go get weird at our favorite places to drink in The Valley.

The Spots

Idle Hour Bar

Plain and simple, this is the best bar in the Valley right now. After three decades of decay, somebody who knew exactly what they were doing bought this 90-year-old icon and turned it into a complete destination bar. Great craft beer, a solid cocktail list, one of our favorite patios in the city (there’s a giant bulldog status), and the kind of laid-back crowd you simply can’t get on the other side of the hills. Plus, if you don’t like drinking inside a two-story wooden barrel, you’re lying to yourself.

The thing about Tony’s is that at first glance, it doesn’t look or feel much different than any other sports bar scattered about this city. But then you stay there a bit longer, and realize you never want to leave. The atmosphere is fun, but low-key, the bar food is way better than it needs to be, and the wait staff will talk to you like you’ve been hanging out there for years. It’s also a great place for vegans and vegetarians.

Let’s not forget everyone - this town invented the tiki bar. And that means we’ve got some of the best places to down flaming rum drinks in the country. While the Valley has one of the granddaddies of them all (we see you Tonga Hut), our move is always Tiki No is North Hollywood. This divey bar might not have history behind it, but it more than makes for it with a great atmosphere, fantastic cocktails, and the kind of rum punch bowls that will have you calling home crying to your mom about how much of an asshole you were in high school.

Sitting essentially underneath the 405 freeway in Sherman Oaks, we love Blue Dog because in a land full of neighborhood drinking holes, Blue Dog feels the most local. This place feels like a little cabin where anything goes and nobody’s here to judge you for it. Not to say it gets too crazy here - it doesn’t. But with a great front patio, solid food, lots of TVs, and one of the best Happy Hour situations around, don’t mind us if we throw more than a few back.

This casual wine bar right on Ventura is the kind of place you walk into and mutter “wow, this is really cool” under your breath without even realizing it. The space isn’t big, but with a wrap-around bar, two-seater booths, and a front couch area, there are plenty of places to burrow in for the night. The bartenders will happily let you taste as many wines as you’d like until finding the one you want, and if you get hungry, there’s a solid menu full of cheese, charcuterie, and everything else that tastes good while drinking wine.

This is one of those places where the vibe changes drastically depending on the time and day of the week. Midweek drop-in? Expect a more subdued, romantic atmosphere perfect for a first date night cap. Saturday night with a group of friends? Expect it dark, loud, and lively. But with a good beer list, above-average food, and one of the more unique spaces on Ventura (seriously, do hobbits live here?), Black Market always manages to find a way to fit the mood.

Laurel Tavern isn’t the place you go to get wild on a night out in Studio City. It’s the place where you grab after-work cocktails with coworkers you like, first date drinks when you just want to feel comfortable, or a glass of wine with your roommate before you head home to binge-watch Stranger Things. Do we wish there were less hanging light bulbs around the bar? Sure. But you can’t get everything in life, and Laurel Tavern gives us plenty otherwise.

Heads up to all diehard craft beer drinkers in the Valley - you just got one of the better places to drink rare beer in the city. Surly Goat has been a Weho staple since the day it opened, and they’ve now expanded their empire to Encino, where they have all the room in the world. Expect lots of TVs, shuffleboard, pool tables, and of course, an always-amazing beer list. Encino is probably more well-known for its daycare options than nightlife spots, but if you’re in the neighborhood looking for good beer, Surly Goat is option one, two, and three.

The Red Door

You probably know Toluca Lake as that place people walk around on their lunch hours avoiding Panera for the third day in a row. But did you know it’s also home to a really fantastic speakeasy? In the small alleyway behind Paty’s Diner, there’s a tiny red door (get it?) that leads to one of the Valley’s best kept secrets. With dark red booths and silent movies playing on the wall, the vibe at The Red Door is more subdued than rowdy, and that’s exactly why we like it. There is a food menu, but it’s pricey. So eat beforehand, and come ready to drink some excellently-made cocktails.

The Sherman Oaks neighborhood go-to not only has some of our favorite BBQ in town, they also own a great beer stock. With 42 rotating taps and a reserve bottle list that goes on for eternity, if you aren’t getting buzzed at Boneyard, it’s your own fault. And when the time comes to get some sustenance in this low-key joint, just make sure you go for the Santa Maria beef ribs.

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photo credit: Ashley Sears

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