There’s a time and place for rowdy bars - like your birthday, Pride month, or when you want to trust-fall off a table and into the arms of strangers. Other times, you just want to sit in peace and drink a cocktail without having to text what you’re trying to say to the person next to you. And those are the times when you’ll want to go to one of these quiet bars (that we promise aren’t boring). From Eastside wine bars to a speakeasy behind an Italian restaurant, here are 12 great places to drink and also have a conversation without screaming.
We like The Know Where because it’s a Hollywood bar where you can always depend on a local crowd, zero lines, and good drinks that don’t cost $18. Plus, on those nights when you just need to hang with a friend and bemoan how terrible you both are at dating, Know Where always seems to have an empty table waiting.
Located in Toluca Lake, Catcher In The Rye is the most prime after-work drink spot in the Valley. If you couldn’t guess, this bar takes its literature theme seriously, with a library aesthetic and cocktails named things like Tequila Mockingbird. The bar bites are solid enough, and there are plenty of board games for you and your only friend at work to play while also scouring LinkedIn for new job openings.
Tabula Rasa is a beer and wine bar in Thai Town that looks more like a Cold War fallout shelter than a place to drink IPAs on a Tuesday. That said, the tiny space is still warm and welcoming, and aside from live music nights on Sundays and Tuesdays, the place is always quiet. They have a huge wine list, and great bar snacks (we like the Cubano sandwich) in case you get hungry.
Main Street in Santa Monica isn’t typically where you go for a quiet bar night, but Library Ale House is an outlier where you can drink craft beer with a low-key crowd that will let you sip your sour beer in peace. There’s a quiet patio in the back if you’re with a few people looking to eat a burger or fish and chips, but if you’re just in the market for some beer and low-decibel surroundings, hang in the front bar.
Culver City isn’t exactly the first place your mind goes when you think Old Hollywood, but the Culver Hotel might change that. Built in 1924 just a few blocks from what was then MGM Studios and is now Sony, this historic hotel has an excellent lobby bar that’s quiet and romantic, but never dull. If you’re looking for a nightcap after a date and want to drink a cocktail in the same hotel where the cast of The Wizard of Oz stayed during production, remember Culver Hotel.
A night at Bernadette’s feels like drinking in your uncle’s basement where the wallpaper hasn’t changed since 1973. The tiny bar downtown is a great place to hash out life with a spiraling coworker during Happy Hour. This place is beer and wine only, which is a good thing because Sheila doesn’t need bourbon right now anyway and could probably use some bar snacks and a cheese board from DTLA Cheese.
Sunset & Vinyl
Hidden one floor above 800 Degrees Pizzeria in Hollywood, Sunset & Vinyl might seem like one of those contrived speakeasies that you don’t have the time or the correct shoes for tonight. But this low-key cocktail bar is actually an excellent neighborhood spot in Hollywood. Once you figure out how to get inside (head down the hallway by the “To-Go Orders” sign in 800 Degrees), you’ll pop out into a tiny space that looks like a parlor room in a 19th-century mansion. There are no covers, no bouncers, and no lines - just well-made cocktails, couches, and records spinning.
This dimly-lit cocktail bar on Figueroa in Highland Park is one of our favorite spots for a nightcap on the Eastside. Come in at midnight on a weekend and you will certainly have some company, but even when the place is somewhat crowded, it’s never overwhelming. The cocktails change fairly often, but we’ve never had one we didn’t love. If you’re wrapping up a date night at Cafe Birdie and want one more drink, head right to ETA.
Semi Tropic is a wine and beer bar in Echo Park, but it feels more like your friend’s living room with scattered two-top tables and long booths loaded with big pillows. This is the kind of place where you and your close friends grab glasses of wine from the bar and then find a quiet corner where they help you figure out what to do about your terrible Craigslist roommate. They also have an all-day Happy Hour from 9am-5pm that you should know about.
Old Lightning is a hidden speakeasy behind Scopa Italian Roots in Venice. While you’re here for the cocktails and extensive stock of bourbon, the most notable thing about this place might be that you have to check your cell phone at the door. No texts, no sexts, no Instagram. Real conversation is required and so are reservations.
You don’t go to this classic Koreatown bar for thought-provoking cocktails. You go because drinking at The Prince feels like drinking on the rich-people floor of the Titanic where you can always claim your own big red booth. Everything on the cocktail list is pretty sugary, so we suggest calling your own or sticking to beer instead. When you get hungry, the Korean fried chicken and the kimchi rice are there for you.
This bar on a sleepy stretch of Historic Filipinotown is a great meet-in-the-middle spot when you work in West Hollywood and your friend teaches yoga downtown. The lounge-y space looks somewhat high-end when you first walk in, but in reality it’s a relaxed spot with long couches against the wall, good cocktails, and people who mostly walked here from their apartments. Also, they have unlimited bowls of bar nuts.