The Best Bars On The Eastside guide image


The Best Bars On The Eastside

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

When it comes to hitting the town on LA's Eastside, there's a lot of ground to cover. From East Hollywood to Highland Park and everywhere in between, a night out can mean anything from splitting a bottle of wine to drinking vodka sodas at a cabaret show to losing all sense of time in a disco-fueled dance party. And since choosing the right venue is crucial, we're here to make your Saturday night a whole lot easier. Here are all the spots worth drinking at on the Eastside, broken up by neighborhood.

Silver Lake

The Ruby Fruit

The Ruby Fruit is a jubilant, bright pink lesbian bar in a Silver Lake strip mall where the party spills out onto the sidewalk, and even the parking lot, on a nightly basis. You'll find a handful of natural wines on the menu, as well as some excellent bar snacks (get the smoked beets with ricotta and pistachios) that you can graze on at their tiny wrap-around bar or a handful of tables inside. But the real reason to come here is the fun and welcoming scene: the crowd is an eclectic mix of married couples, neighbors, bandmates, and everyone in between.

Red Lion Tavern isn’t just our favorite German beer garden on the Eastside, it’s one of our favorite hangout 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 that hosts everything from bingo nights to stand-up to Marlene Dietrich tribute acts.

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 afterward. 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.

Echo Park

If you're riding an emotional high after an Echoplex concert and need a place to keep the night going, the answer is El Prado. During the week, this dimly lit wine bar is a mellow place to split a bottle with friends, but everything changes once the weekend rolls around: you'll find a DJ spinning records and a crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk. If you see a hot dog rotisserie behind the bar, no, you're not hallucinating—you can order a $5 hot dog with your natural wine, a combo we'll never judge you for.

Under-the-radar wine spot Bar Bandini isn't the first option that comes to mind for a big night out in Echo Park, but that's the reason we love it. The dark, narrow space is so stripped-down it looks like it's under construction, yet somehow the mood is always right: weekdays involve chill regulars drinking natural wine and craft beers from the tap and eating simple, tasty bar snacks like olives and cheese. Come weekends, things get livelier, but never to the point where you have to worry about getting a lemon drop thrown in your face. Bandini might be mellow, but it's never boring.

As soon as you reach the top of the stairs at Bar Flores, you’ll feel like you’ve entered Narnia—except with fewer talking lions and 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 “vintage” corduroy caps, but all things considered, this is a truly excellent place to drink. And if you’re looking to follow up your cocktail with a great smashburger (and craft beer), head downstairs to Lowboy.

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 two craps that you’re bringing the disco back on the dance floor right now. Warning: Get there early. Weekends lines can get rough.

East Hollywood

If you've never 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 an LA icon. It's got 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. 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 cocktails, 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.

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.

Virgil Village

This low-key Virgil Village cider den is dark and moody, with a tiny wrap-around bar and vintage wooden blinds that make you feel like the main character in a film noir. If your knowledge of cider begins and ends with that Strongbow you drank in 2013, the menu will probably be overwhelming. Don't stress—the knowledgeable bartenders will happily talk through various sections of the menu and let you sip and taste until you find something you love.

Los Feliz

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, 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.

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.

Located on Vermont Ave. in the middle of Los Feliz, The Dresden is broken up into two distinct areas: the main dining room and the bar/lounge. And while you can have a decent enough prime rib dinner here, the real move is to skip the dining room altogether and head right to the lounge. Sadly, Marty Roberts—part of the iconic cabaret duo Marty & Elayne—passed in January 2022, after performing there weekly for nearly 40 years. Even so, the iconic lounge is still a great place to drink old-school cocktails like the rum-infused Blood & Sand, catch a live jazz show, and get a little weird along the way. 

Atwater Village

Club Tee Gee is a fun bar where disco dance parties, comedy shows, karaoke nights, and live country bands collide. So the next time you want to get a little weird near Atwater Village, head to this 75-year-old watering hole. Most of the events are free, and the crowd is a mix of people who actually dance under the spinning disco ball inside. Club Tee Gee can get very loud and super cramped on weekends, but they've got a covered patio in the back where you can get some air and cool off.

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 its 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.

Glassell Park

The Grant is a lowkey drinking spot in Glassell Park with an equally lowkey crowd made up of first-date nightcaps, neighborly hangouts, and young parents getting in one last round before the babysitter calls. This bar is also undoubtedly pleasant to hang out in with a sleek, art deco-ish interior, blue velvet booths, and craft cocktails made with fancy-ish ingredients like Furlani vermouth and Burmese tonic.

Highland Park

This Tokyo-style listening bar in Highland Park is a tricky place to secure a seat (or more than 2 feet of personal space), but cramped nights at Gold Line are absolutely worth the jostling. There are good drinks, intimate DJ sets that involve a mix of 80s hip-hop and disco, and a stylish crowd that's there to listen (and dance, if space permits) to said music. DJs spin vinyls from the bar's collection of 7,500 records lining the walls, and the bartenders pour whiskey highballs and a lip-smacking guava caipirinha.

Drinking and bowling have gone hand-in-hand since the caveman era, and Highland Park Bowl does the combination better than anybody else. The historic space on Figueroa has been around since the 1920s, but after a big renovation a few years back, it's now a retro steampunk wonderland where bowling, drinking well-made cocktails, and eating very good pizza are required activities. If you do want to bowl, make sure you reserve well in advance.

Of all the great bars on Figueroa Blvd. in Highland Park, Checker Hall is the metaphorical Swiss army knife. It's on the second floor of an old Masonic lodge, so the space is downright cavernous. And because it's so big, you can pretty much do whatever you want here. We've taken dates for drinks after dinner, and we've rolled in with big groups for several rounds of spicy tequila cocktails before seeing a concert at the adjoining music venue. There's also a great patio where you can watch everybody stumble down the block after midnight.

Lincoln Heights

Footsies looks like the type of old-school dive where you'd get hit with the smell of warm Pabst Blue Ribbon when you walk in. But with the help of LED string lights, this dark, leather-booth bar turns into a DJ-fueled party on the weekends, complete with a disco ball. Expect to hear all types of music genres here, from new wave to disco to hip-hop, and see the bar serving quick beer-shot combos and elaborate craft cocktails, like their smoky mezcal Old-Fashioned.

Eagle Rock

What happens when you put an aperitivo bar with a few leather banquettes and a vintage neon sign on a busy block in Eagle Rock? You get Capri Club, ground zero for negroni-fueled fun on the Eastside. When it's Friday night, and you absolutely need to be seen wearing your vintage Jean Paul Gaultier while sipping an espresso martini, this place should be your number-one choice. But be prepared to swim through a crowd of tipsy people who are already loitering in the narrow walkway to find an open seat. This walk-in-only spot thrives on style and chaos, but that's exactly why we love it.

Walt's Bar in Eagle Rock calls itself an arcade bar, but good news––it's not an arcade bar. Instead, it's a retro dive that wouldn't look out of place on a beach boardwalk, with a menu full of craft beers and bar food classics like hot dogs and pretzels with a beer cheese dipping sauce. Expect a crowd of hipster Eastside roommates hitting the town to crush PBRs and get hyper-competitive over pinball. And if you're looking for a salty snack for the Uber ride home, there's a popcorn machine that takes quarters.

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The Best Bars On The Eastside guide image