All you wanted was a few drinks and an early turn-in. Think again. Two friends led to four friends, and then those friends called their friends, and the group is somehow running 12 deep now. Finding a bar that can fit everyone and make them all happy is easier said than done - but it can be accomplished. Whether you’re trying to plan your birthday party, or an after-work bonding event, or you’re just dealing with a randomly huge group, we tracked down the 24 best spots to make your night as smooth as possible.
Greetings from the most interesting bar on the Westside. Located in the attic above the very bro-y Basement Tavern on Main St., The Birdcage is a Miami-in-the-80’s-themed dance bar with a big space. The drinks are strong, the music is fun, and there are even a few drag queens walking around mixing things up. You’re going to overheat at some point while dancing too hard to George Michael, but luckily there’s a great balcony out back where you can cool off.
When you don’t want to wait in line at Angel City, take the crew up the street to Boomtown. The newest addition to the downtown craft beer situation is still building out their beer stock, but their massive space is fun and not nearly as crowded as the more well-known breweries in the Arts District. The interior has shuffleboard, billiards, darts, and long communal tables to post up at all day. And if you’re looking to soak up some Saturday sun, there’s a great patio out front as well.
Tiki bars tend to be pretty small, where hiding away in some dark nook with a date or a few friends is half the fun. Not Lono. The new tiki bar right on Hollywood Blvd. is massive, with several different rooms, a lounge area, and a full restaurant in the back. It can get crowded at peak times on the weekends, but never so obnoxious you want to leave. The drinks are strong, the service is quick, and if you and the crew manage to snag a couch in the middle room, you won’t move for the rest of the night.
After a long day of laying out at Hermosa Beach, you and your friends are looking for some liquid encouragement to get you through the night. Hermosa has no lack of bars, but the newest one, Tower 12, is already one of the best. Located directly on the pier, Tower 12 has the requisite beach decor and laid-back atmosphere, but with enough space for the whole group to roll into and find a corner to take over. FYI: this place gets rowdy on the weekends.
Precinct is the best gay club downtown. Known for dangerously strong drinks, rowdy drag shows, and enough room for you and your 20 best friends to get weird on the dance floor, there are few nights sloppier than a night at Precinct. This isn’t where you go to post up at a big table with your friends and discuss each other’s best attributes, it’s where you go to get a little wild and put the pieces back together in the morning.
Attention: Your favorite Hollywood bar is back and it’s as good as ever. No, Cat & Fiddle’s new patio (it took over the old Mud Hen Tavern space on Melrose and Highland) can’t compete with its old, legendary courtyard on Sunset, but it’s still an excellent space with a low-key, neighborhood bar atmosphere. If you just wrapped a show up at one of the black box theaters on Santa Monica Blvd. and the whole cast decided to tag along for a drink, Cat & Fiddle is your move.
From the outside, Bar Clacson looks more like a foreclosed insurance office than it does a legitimate bar. But walk inside this downtown drinking spot and you’ll find a huge, industrial space full of things to keep your big group occupied. There admittedly isn’t much seating here (it’s basically just a long bar and some scattered high tops), but nobody will care when they’re on their feet playing games anyways. Think foosball and a full-scale bocce ball court in the actual bar. Oh, and those cocktails are pretty good too.
There’s no worse way to spend a Saturday night than trying to corral 12 of your drunkest friends from one bar to the next. Instead, just go to Abigaile, the restaurant/brewery/bar/dance club in Hermosa Beach where you can hang all night and not worry about losing anybody along the way. Start downstairs at the restaurant, move to the patio with some craft beer in-hand afterwards, and then finally end up at the top floor where all hell will almost certainly break loose.
When you think of bars ideal for your large group of uncontrollable friends, a hidden speakeasy tiki bar probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. But Pacific Seas isn’t your average speakeasy tiki bar. This place (located on the 3rd floor of Clifton’s Cafeteria) is much bigger than you think. There are plenty of big tables you can reserve, but if you can’t get one, the bar area itself is large enough to accommodate your group (although there will be a line if you come after 10pm). If you get tired of sugary tiki drinks after a few hours, you can just walk back downstairs to Clifton’s for a swing dancing/taxidermy/whiskey-fueled extravaganza that’s one of the biggest and better parties in town.
Not every big group bar has to be a a complete production that ends in misguided tequila shots at 1am. Case in point - The Semi-Tropic. This mellow wine and beer bar in Silver Lake has a large, couch-filled space that feels like a co-op community room, but don’t get us wrong: this place is fun. The beer and wine lists are both great, the bartenders are friendly, and it’s just nice to know your spiraling friends don’t even have the option of ordering Fireball shots.
Give your friends great beer, good food, and a big space to spread out and everything else tends to fall into place. Located downtown (inside an old discount tire store), Mikkeller became an area mainstay the second it opened. The Danish craft beer bar (with only a few other locations around the world) has one of the best craft beer selections around and a bar menu that’s actually great (get the burger). If you’ve got a big group going to see something at Staples, Mikkeller is the prime pre-game spot.
This 90-year-old Silver Lake landmark has been everything from a jail-themed speakeasy to a community theater, but is now a bonafide supper club where you can make a night of it with dinner and a show (did someone say Flamenco?). Even if that’s not your vibe, El Cid is still one of the best places to grab a drink and lounge outside with the crew. The massive patio is always welcoming, and never gets so crowded you want to die (or just go home).
When in doubt, Red Lion Tavern is always the move. The German beer garden has been one of our Eastside go-to drink spots for a while now, but when you’ve got a big group in tow, it’s a pretty inevitable solution. Its Bavarian theme is kind of overkill, but when you’re sitting on that massive back patio with a boot of beer next to you, you want all of it. And also another boot of beer.
Button Mash technically isn’t a bar, but you can definitely drink there and we love it and so will your friends so we don’t care. The Echo Park arcade bar/restaurant has lines out the door on the weekends, but when a place is this great, it’s to be expected. So what’s everyone here for? A fantastic, modern space that never feels cramped, excellent arcade games, and the best Chinese drunk food in the city.
Omg, you want the best birthday ever but everyone’s being so completely lame, but it’s also your birthday, and like, you need this. This reconverted craftsman is full of just-out-of-college children, but the space is also amazing. Ocean views, multiple indoor and outdoor spaces, and a ridiculously attractive clientele. Go live your best life.
Do you like whiskey? And friends? Say hello to Seven Grand. One of the first major bars to make downtown a thing again, Seven Grand might not have the buzz it did a few years ago, but no one can say anything bad about those extremely strong cocktails and a space that’s always so much bigger than we remember it being. There are multiple rooms, billiards, and a secret bar in the back for the even-more whiskey inclined.
Resident has established itself as one of the most reliable bars in the Arts District. Almost the whole thing is outside, with long communal tables, food trucks, and a bar inside an Airstream. You sort of feel like you’re getting hammered in your cousin’s backyard and, that’s the best kind of drunk. There’s also an indoor live music venue with a fantastic weekly lineup.
As fantastic as the nightlife is in Ktown, it can be a little troublesome for large groups. Most of the best spots are small, hard to find, and fairly crowded. Not Lock & Key. It advertises itself as a speakeasy, but don’t let that get in your way - the place is actually huge and steers clear from the 19th century who-gives-a-sh*t aesthetic you’re probably envisioning. The drinks are good, the patio is great, and they even have a food menu that’s better than it needs to be. Warning: weekend lines get long.
Highland Park might not be the most conveniently-located area of town to get your friends to on a Saturday night, but once they see what’s happening at Block Party (and the rest of York Blvd. for that matter), their bitching will cease. The colorful beer bar might not look like much from the sidewalk, but that back patio is as good as it gets. Great beer, good atmosphere, and a retro hot dog cart on the premises - no further convincing needed.
Located in a massive warehouse in the heart of the Arts District, lines at Angel City can definitely get long on the weekend, but once you’re inside you basically have enough room for you and the group to do whatever you want. Cornhole, food trucks, live music, and lots and lots of day drinking.
Yes, The Rooftop At The Standard is still great. Does it fill up with every aspiring actor in the city on a Saturday night? Of course. But so does anywhere else in LA. The good news: the rooftop is so massive that regardless of the number of people up there, you’re always able to find an area for you and the group to take over. The views are fantastic, the drinks are strong, and praise jesus that annoying dude from the elevator just fell into the pool. Reminder: Only open till 10pm.
El Tejano certainly becomes a shot-fueled slopfest quickly on the weekend, but no one can tell you that front patio of theirs isn’t a hell of a good time on a Saturday afternoon. With a full bar and everything from cornhole to life-sized Connect Four, if your group of friends can’t find fun here, you need new friends. Drinks are dirt cheap (and come served in gigantic plastic goblets) and there’s even a self-serve tortilla chip bin. Everybody wins.
4100 Bar is one of those Eastside bars that feels like it’s been there forever, and every time you go you’re reminded why it’s still around - it’s a damn good time. It can definitely get a little rowdy on the weekends, and if you’re single and ready to mingle, odds are you won’t leave empty-handed. That said, the setting steers clear from ever being gross, and one of our favorite street dog carts is always parked out front for when the munchies arrive.
Laugh all you want, but when it comes to skipping out on a night at Dave & Buster’s, the joke’s simply on you. This adult Chuck E. Cheese for the drinking inclined is always a good time, and the Hollywood and Highland location is not nearly as depressing as the one you went to in Omaha. So grab your nearest 15 friends who know how to live their lives to the fullest and start racking up those game tickets. Warning: be there by 10pm or be prepared to wait in line.