Whether you live there or not, few things rival a night out on LA’s Eastside. With everything from world-class performance venues, dingy dive bars, and German beer gardens to 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 crowded one 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.
It’s not every night you’re going to get a little weird on the ground floor of a Super 8 Motel on Western, but when that night involves Girl At The White Horse, make sure you’re in attendance. The spot is actually an updated version of the old dive bar of the same name that occupied the space, and it’s easily our new favorite bar in the city. For being a relatively small space, they have a good-sized bar, a dance floor with a disco ball, tons of tiny rooms to sit and drink in, and a back patio as well. The crowd is cool and attractive and definitely ready to mingle.
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 housemade sangria and jazz nights, a jukebox, and a Tuesday night tiki drink takeover.
Harvard and Stone has been around long enough now to be sneaking up on classic status. The East Hollywood bar comes from the same family as Davey Wayne’s and Breakroom 86, but is far more low-key, with no insane entrance or aggressive theme and one of the best cocktail situations in LA. They have live music or DJs almost every night, a very underrated dance floor, and a separate bar featuring guest bartenders and new drink menus every day.
In a city known for careful 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.
Good Luck Bar is where you go when you’re walking to another bar with a group of friends, but you pop in for a drink and end up staying an hour. The kitschy, Chinese lantern-covered bar rides a fine line between tiki bar and full-on dive. Grab a $10 Potent Potion served in an actual coconut and forget about the fact that you were supposed to meet your other friends an hour ago.
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 the past 34 years. Nothing feels more Old Hollywood than a drink at this landmark.
If you’re in hot pursuit of the bar absolutely everybody is at right now, head to The Friend. The pastel-colored bar on Hyperion is a madhouse on the weekends, but come midweek and things cool off considerably. The aesthetic falls somewhere between neighborhood drinking hole and a Gilmore Girls soundstage, but it oddly works. The cocktails are good, there’s a requisite pinball machine, and if you get hungry, there’s a solid snacks menu as too. Get there early if you want to snag a table - otherwise you will definitely be standing.
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 (aka 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 Mexican-themed 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? Yes. The divey dance bar on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border always has a great, mixed crowd (read: local) and relatively cheap drinks, and there’s usually an event going on that’s actually fun and not a gimmick. 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.
One of the more iconic live music venues in all of Los Angeles, The Satellite is an Eastside staple and easily the best place to grab a few drinks and watch people like Beck become superstars. If you aren’t feeling tonight’s music, there’s a separate area for some pool and other music-less revelry. Remember - this is a performance venue, so expect a cover most nights. But if you’re in the mood to dance to the best indie bands in town, there’s no better spot than Satellite.
We don’t know why this place looks like a half-assed Agrabah. We also don’t know why they insist on music so loud you spend your night screaming across your table. But we do know that halfway through your first rib or wing from the man BBQing outside on the weekends, you’re just fine with where your night netted out.
Hello from the other side. Smog Cutter is a tiny shell of a bar on the western fringes on Silver Lake where blacked-out karaoke is a way of life. Nobody starts their night at Smog Cutter, but if you’re in the area, there’s no finer way to end it than belting out Styx to a room full of strangers in jean shorts. God bless the USA.
The Eagle is definitely not for everybody. But 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 (cash bar only), weekly events include Thursday night 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 came here in the first place.
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 there’s no hard liquor served - ensuring your friend who said they’re going to be good tonight actually will. 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 Co. doesn’t get the public love that Mohawk does, but if you’re a beer drinker, this tiny beer seller 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 in 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. Beyonce mash-up dance nights, there are few better places to be on a Saturday night.
What do you get when you mix booze, arcade games, and some of the best Chinese-fusion drunk food of all time? If you’re rolling into this stripmall arcade bar with a big group, you can snag a reservation beforehand, otherwise play some pinball, drink some drinks, and wait for those fried tofu balls to arrive in your mouth.
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 its 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 its own novelty, and we’re completely okay 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.