The Best Bars On The Eastside

A neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to everywhere you need to be drinking on the Eastside.

Whether you live there or not, few things rival a night out on LA’s Eastside. With everything from world-class performance venues and dimly lit dive bars to German beer gardens and all-night dance parties, there are few areas of town that can compete with what Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, East Hollywood, and Atwater Village collectively offer on the weekends.

But how do you make sense of it all? For every craft cocktail bar worth your time and energy, there’s an overpriced and/or crowded spot ready to ruin your Saturday night. We’re here to help, with the best places to be partying on the Eastside. Let’s get rowdy.

East HOllywood

This tiny bar on Hollywood Blvd. continues to be one of the most underrated spots in the area, but you get the sense that’s exactly how everybody here wants it. This is the place you go to when you’re sick of all the lines in Hollywood and Silver Lake and just want cheap drinks, a fun atmosphere, and bartenders who will actually talk to you. They have a martini-and-jazz night, a jukebox, and a Tuesday night tiki drink takeover.

If you haven’t been to Jumbo’s, you need to cancel any plans you have tonight and head to this East Hollywood institution. This isn’t just a burlesque club, or a fun dive bar, or the place where you once saw your old professor then kind of had to leave immediately - it’s one of LA’s most iconic spots. Cheap drinks, a lively crowd, and talented performers who actually care about their craft; there’s almost no place we’d rather spend a few hours at.

Somehow, there are two bars doing burlesque on the same block of Hollywood Blvd., and both are highly worth your time. Harvard & Stone has burlesque on weekends, and watching performers do acrobatics on the catwalk is a great way to spend a night. But the best part of Harvard & Stone is that there are a lot of great ways to spend a night here - watching the rockabilly bands that perform nightly, drinking the deadly strong cocktails, and hanging at the back bar, which is technically outdoors (but really doesn’t feel like it), making it practically the only place in LA where you can smoke cigarettes inside. OK, maybe that doesn’t sound like a positive, but you’ll be thankful for it at 1am on a Saturday.

Historic Filipinotown

This isn’t the kind of spot with pounding music, sticky floors, and plenty of places to lose your phone (those are sh*tshow bars, and we’ve got a whole guide to them). Thunderbolt is a solid neighborhood bar at the edge of Historic Filipinotown that has become our go-to for everything from first dates to obligatory after-work drinks. The menu is a mixed bag of Southern-ish bar snacks - if you’re hungry, we recommend heading to Park’s Finest next door - and all of the drinks, from the mango and tamarind-filled La Frutera (which can, and should, be made spicy) to the sweet and creamy Tropipop, exist in that dangerous Venn diagram of highly tasty and very strong.

1642 is the bar equivalent of Ko Hyojoo, the South Korean girl who dances on a longboard through the streets of Seoul - effortlessly cool. There’s a live band playing most nights, a fantastic wine and beer selection, and the crowd inside seems like they read for pleasure and know how to keep a houseplant alive. So sit down, grab a glass of Sauvignon blanc, and put those thousands of dollars you spent on improv classes to use by listening.

We’re not saying that you should move to Historic Filipinotown just so you can call Crawfords your neighborhood bar, but we’re also… not not saying that? This low-key drinking spot is exactly the kind of place that you wish was in a walking radius from you - part dive bar, part excellent fried chicken joint, and entirely easy and fun, they’re the perfect place to grab a booth with some friends, order a few rounds, and talk about leaving the Westside.

Los Feliz

For all the great bars on the Eastside, the number of places where you can get really f*cked up at midnight on a weekday is pretty limited. Lucky for you (but unlucky for you at your 9am meeting), Pinky’s is on that short list, and they’re really the only spot you need. This place is open until 2am nightly, where they serve great cocktails (we recommend the tiki-ish, rye-based Drunk Commitments) and - though this shouldn’t be a novel concept - $4 beers. It all goes down in a gold, green, and tropical space that feels a bit like a tiny Miami club, but, y’know, actually fun.

If the words “non-pretentious wine bar” sound like an oxymoron to you, head to Tabula Rasa. As soon as you walk into this stripped-down space in Los Feliz (seriously, it looks like it could double as a bunker in 1917), you’ll immediately know that this isn’t the kind of place where you have to pretend to know what “mouth feel” is. It’s calm and laid-back, plus they have a really solid beer, wine, and snacks menu (get the Cubano sandwich). As Hannah Montana would say - it’s the best of both worlds.

We can’t really decide whether Covell is more of a wine bar or a restaurant, but that’s OK. This place on Sunset in Los Feliz is exactly the kind of wine-drinking spot you probably envision every time a server scoffs at you for ordering Chardonnay with a steak. They’re not snobby, and are happy to let you put ice cubes in your chard if that’s your jam, but they’re equally willing to give you a sommelier-level crash course in California pinots if you ask. Either way, make sure you get a tuna melt to go with your wine. Yes, you read that right: It’s one of the best in town.

In a city known for carefully choreographed weirdness, Tiki Ti is the real, weird deal. This cash-only roadside hut seats only a handful of people at a time, but oh how lucky those folks are. Drinks are named after patrons, the alcohol-to-mixer ratio is off the charts, and if you order the right drink, a song will be sung in your honor. In which case, grab the Toro (the ever-present mini mechanical bull), and prepare yourself for a show.

Surly waitstaff, loud music, and the best f*cking wings in Los Angeles. This neighborhood dive is the perfect place to get angry-drunk while watching your sports team lose or try to pick up a stranger with far more tattoos than you.

You can say you came for the drinks. Or you can say you came for the food. But let’s face it, you came for Marty and Elayne, the jazz duo providing the entertainment here for nearly 40 years. Nothing feels more Old Hollywood than a drink at this landmark.

Silver Lake

As you might expect, we’re referring to the “Bar” portion of Bar Restaurant. This spot on Sunset in Silver Lake is probably best known for their strange and wonderful French-ish food, but if you’re not drinking here, you’re missing out. The bar is lively, but rarely so crowded that you won’t be able to find a seat and order a Negroni Sbagliato - a Negroni served in a massive gin and tonic goblet, with sparkling wine instead of gin. The house martini is also one of the best around - they use a secret recipe, but trust us when we say that one will be enough.

This pastel-colored bar on Hyperion is a madhouse on the weekends, but during the week, things cool off considerably. The aesthetic falls somewhere between a neighborhood drinking hole and a Gilmore Girls set, but oddly, it works. The cocktails are good, there’s a requisite pinball machine, and if you get hungry, there’s a solid snacks menu, too. Get there early if you want to snag a table - otherwise you will definitely be standing... and, eventually, dancing (hopefully).

Red Lion Tavern isn’t just our favorite German beer garden on the Eastside, it’s one of our all-time favorite spots in LA, period. There are few experiences as enjoyable as sitting out on the back patio, ordering a sausage sampler, and drinking boots of beer until you actually think you’re in Germany. If the outdoor beer garden becomes too much (it does get crowded), head inside to the dark downstairs lounge and watch Father Time (a.k.a. a really old dude) croon at the piano for a few hours.

Cha Cha Lounge holds the great honor of being directly across the street from Red Lion Tavern, which means you’re stumbling to this over-the-top bar afterwards. If Cha Cha wasn’t in Silver Lake, it’d basically be another location of Cabo Cantina. The crowd can get rowdy, but everyone’s there to simply have a good time, and the foosball tables in the back are always a good idea.

Is this the best gay bar in LA? Quite possibly. The dive-y dance bar on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border always has a great, mixed (read: local) crowd and relatively cheap drinks, and there’s usually an event going on that’s actually fun and not gimmicky. If you aren’t feeling the dance vibes though, not to worry. The space is broken up into two distinct areas: dancing and vodka sodas, and talking and vodka sodas.

If you’re in the mood to experience the alternative underbelly of the Eastside gay scene, The Eagle is a night like no other. The drinks are dirt cheap, the schedule of events includes Thursday bear nights and “Meat Rack” Saturdays, and adult programming plays on the TVs throughout the night. It’s weird and queer and exactly why you probably came here in the first place.

Echo Park

As soon as you reach the top of the stairs at Bar Flores, you’ll feel like you’ve entered Narnia - except there aren’t any talking lions here, and, as far as we know, C.S. Lewis’ fantasy land didn’t include one of the best-tasting sangrias known to man. This gorgeous Latin cocktail bar in Echo Park has a charming patio and delicious drinks that involve jicama, prickly pear, and something called schisandra berry. Sure, you’re dealing with the usual Echo Park crowd of NPR shirts, but all things considered, this is a truly excellent place to drink.

Although Lowboy is located on one of the busiest stretches of Sunset Blvd., this drinking spot is still surprisingly relaxed. If you can tune out the busy sounds of the street and avoid days when the Dodgers are playing, you’ll find that they’re the perfect place to drink craft beers and actually meet people. Plus, they’ve got an excellent smashburger on the menu - wait, maybe this place is actually heaven?

Finding a low-key place for a drink in Echo Park is about as easy as an unprotected left turn across Sunset. Fortunately, Bar Henry is that green arrow you’ve been looking for. This is the ideal place for a midweek date - it’s quiet enough that you’re going to be able to hear the person’s answers to your questions, but buzzy enough that you don’t have to worry about the bartender eavesdropping on you guys. Cocktails are usually our move here (we like the house Old Fashioned), but they’ve got a surprisingly good beer list, too.

Bar Caló is a Mexican bar/restaurant in Echo Park where you can sense how cool it is before you even walk through the doors. There are people’s arms hanging out of the windows holding tequila Old Fashioneds and groups of friends in ripped jeans standing around the parking lot smoking cigs like it’s 1986. A night here feels like some fantastical version of LA that includes very good bar food (get the Oaxacan hot chicken) and excellent cocktails across the board.

This low-key coffee/beer/wine bar admittedly feels more like an art co-op community room than an actual bar, but don’t get it wrong - this place is fun. The bartenders are great, there are plenty of very comfortable couches to take over, and the cocktail-focused menu will ensure your wild friend will actually behave tonight. If you’re looking for a quick nightcap after a great first date, or to get a solid beer base before seeing a show at The Echo down the street, The Semi-Tropic is your spot.

You come to Short Stop for one reason: to dance. And to never stop dancing. This isn’t the fist-pumping, migraine-inducing dance club scene of your Hollywood nightmares. Short Stop is a dive bar with unbelievable music, and a crowd that doesn’t give a sh*t that you’re bringing the disco back on the dance floor right now. Warning: Get there early. Weekends lines can get rough.

Beer, beer, and more beer. Mohawk Bend has one of the finest (and most affordable) stocks of California beer in the city. But if you aren’t into the stuff, there’s plenty of other reasons to stop by. The stunning space used to be an old Vaudeville theater and has a fantastic vegan-friendly menu perfect for a casual date night. And for soaking up all those IPAs you’ve been drinking.

Sunset Beer Company is permanently closed

Sunset Beer Company imageoverride image

Sunset Beer Company

$$$$(213) 481-2337

Sunset Beer Co. doesn’t get the public love that Mohawk does, but if you’re a beer drinker, this tiny spot is worth a pilgrimage. And while their to-go selection is downright impressive, the rotating taps behind the bar will keep you there for a while. Outside food is encouraged and there are board games everywhere, making this your ideal Saturday afternoon group hang.

It’s hard to imagine our lives without The Echo. The live music venue/dance hall is one of our favorite places on the Eastside to lose our minds, and it’s high time you start taking advantage of it. Definitely check the calendar before going, as the themes tend to vary wildly. But from indie rock bands to Rihanna vs. Beyoncé mash-up dance nights, there are few better places to be on a Saturday night.

Atwater Village

Atwater loves its dive bars and The Roost is one of its best. The no-frills, cash-only drinking spot is nearly pitch black inside and you want that at midnight on a Friday. You also want that dirt cheap well vodka, because something about the smell of free popcorn in the air and all that cigarette smoke they’ll never get out of the furniture makes you crave nothing else.

Looking for something between a Parisian sewer duct and a Hobbit watering hole? The Griffin is your answer. Despite the rather nondescript exterior, the space is actually quite large, with a great back patio, and a cavernous, brick interior with multiple fireplaces perfect for cozying up with another human (or just a strongly made cocktail). The vibe is laid-back and welcoming, perfect for a nightcap after a date at All’acqua down the street.

Sometimes you want to drink in Los Angeles, but also feel like you’re maybe in Yosemite. Welcome to Bigfoot Lodge. The Eastside staple certainly doesn’t hide from their own novelty, and we’re completely OK with that. The old-school cocktails are the way to go at this wilderness lodge-themed bar, or you can let the night really kick into high gear with one of the (actually) excellent “Bartender Shots.” See you in the morning.

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