The secret is out - Koreatown is the best nightlife neighborhood in Los Angeles. From dive bars to speakeasies to rowdy BBQ restaurants and all-night karaoke joints, Koreatown plays by its own rules and it’s time you get on-board. While there’s something for everybody in these three square miles, if you go in unprepared, you’re going to be left overwhelmed and home in bed early. And that’s the last thing Koreatown wants for you.
So we’ve done the hard work for you. No more nights wandering around 6th St. wondering which tofu house will still serve you alcohol. Here are the 17 absolute best places to get your drink on in Ktown.
One of the first things you learn in LA is you only do karaoke in Koreatown. And while there are literally dozens of fantastic private room joints to choose from, Brass Monkey’s one-room-sing-for-your-life slopfest is as good as it gets. You enter behind a big row of office buildings on Wilshire, and then are promptly whisked off on the tiki drink-filled karaoke night of your dreams. See you in the morning.
Dan Sung Sa is as close to a real Korean drinking tavern as it gets in LA. From the central kitchen filling the place with gigantic plumes of whatever’s on the stove to the wood-paneled walls perfect for scribbling when you’re shit-canned, there isn’t a better place in Ktown to roll in with a big group, eat some food, drink nine bottles of Soju, and happily forget you’re still in California.
If you’re looking for the hottest spot in Ktown, you’ve found it at Break Room 86. The Houston Brother’s latest bar on the ground floor of The Line Hotel (you enter through the loading dock) takes direct aim at the 1980’s. So expect arcade games, high school lockers, and maybe a Michael Jackson appearance or two. Get there early if you want a shot at getting in, but once inside, you’ll quickly understand the hype.
So you want to keep it classy tonight? Welcome to Normandie Club. This dark cocktail bar in the heart of Ktown might be one of the newer spots on the list, but it’s quickly established itself as one of the best drinking spots not just in Koreatown, but all of LA. The space isn’t large (and it gets crowded), so this isn’t your big group drink throwdown. But if you’re looking to impress before (or after) a sexy date night, or drink whiskey with your friend in town from NYC, Normandie Club will make sure the job gets done.
If Normandie Club is a cocktail drinker’s go-to, Walker Inn is the shangri-la. Located in the back of Normandie Club (under the red light), Walker Inn is a small bar serving an omakase-style cocktail menu. That’s right - you pay a flat fee and they bring you whatever is on that month’s menu. And with past themes ranging from Wet Hot American Summer to the PCH, don’t come expecting to be handed vodka sodas either. A small number of walk-ins are accepted each night, but we fully recommend booking a reservation beforehand.
EMC might have one of the best raw bars in LA, but it’s also just a fantastic spot to hang with friends. The modern restaurant/bar anchors a Korean mall in the heart of all the Ktown action, making it the ideal jumping off point for your night out. There’s also a late night happy hour on the weekends from 11pm till close in case you find yourself stumbling back later.
Before the arcade bar became a thing, Blipsy had long been feeding our nostalgic urges. But unlike the trendier spots popping up around town, Blipsy is dark, grungy, and weird. The exterior is completely nondescript, and the interior is lined with oversized carnival stuffed animals and plenty of machines that don’t always work. But who cares? The cash-only bar has cheap drinks, great vibes, and a dance floor after 10pm that words can’t do justice.
Best known as the place you grab a drink while you wait for your table at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, Toe Bang appears to be a fairly straightforward Korean sports bar. However, with excellent party vibes, cheap food, and a yogurt soju that’ll take you to the moon, Toe Bang is one of our Ktown go-to’s whether we’re waiting for Kang Ho or not.
Not even Koreatown is immune to the speakeasy epidemic. But luckily, Lock & Key is one of the best in LA. Because once you pull on the correct door knob (seriously, there are a lot of them) and enter the place, you realize it’s gigantic. Which is good news because it’s your birthday, and you’re rolling 14 friends deep. The cocktails are great (that daily punch will put you on your ass), and the back patio area has all the space you need to get weird on your special day.
It’s not every day you go bowling, but when you do you go to Shatto 39. The no-frills spot has $7 games at night and is open till 3am on the weekends. The bar has strong, dirt cheap drinks that will get you all kinds of hammered on the hardwood. Also, don’t worry if you forgot socks. There’s a vending machine where you can buy a pair. God bless.
If the sun’s out and you want a beer, there isn’t a better place to be in Ktown than Beer Belly. The tiny spot on Western has an all-California tap list and it is excellent. The modern interior is perfect for posting up on Saturday afternoon and catching a game, or there’s the outdoor patio if you’re in the market for some Vitamin D instead. Either way, the food menu (there are both duck fat fries and bacon fat fries) is everything we’ve ever wanted after our fifth IPA.
Yes, this is the lobby bar of The Line Hotel and no, there isn’t a better place to be at 9pm on a Saturday night. The open, modern bar has a great energy, plenty of places to sit with friends, and is your ideal first drink spot before heading out into the night.
R Bar isn’t a speakeasy in the sense that you can’t find it - it’s pretty visible. It’s a speakeasy in the sense that there’s a nightly password you definitely need to know or else you aren’t getting in. Take a breath, it’s posted on their Facebook page. But once you’re inside, you’ll find a dark, relaxed space full of cool people, and live music that doesn’t suck. Thursday night karaoke is no joke either.
Located on the northern edge of Koreatown, Biergarten is the ideal spot to tell your Uber to pull over into for a nightcap or when your night out in Hollywood sucks, and you need a change of pace. The neighborhood gastropub has a late-night happy hour from 11pm-2am on the weekends and that means $5 house sake, $24 Korean beer buckets, and all the kimchi pancakes you won’t remember ordering in the morning.
While we fully endorse a full dinner situation at this very solid Latin American fusion spot, it’s also a great spot to pop into for a quick cocktail. Because when you’ve been riding the Soju/Sake train all night, sometimes a perfectly made Pisco sour is exactly what you need.
Plain and simple, HMS Bounty is not cool. And that’s exactly why it’s so great. The somewhat-nautical themed dive bar on Wilshire has been around since the dawn of time and has an aesthetic comparable to that of a senile old man’s living room (whose wife is really into slapping some sh*t up on the walls for every holiday that rolls around). But the drinks are cheap, the crowd is fantastic, and we just ordered that $12 baseball steak. Never change, HMS Bounty.
Holy dive bar. Frank N Hanks is where you go after three hours of karaoke and there’s one guy in the group who doesn’t want to go home yet. The dime-sized joint on Western has a good jukebox, a can of PBR and a shot for $5, and excellent people-watching. That is if you’re not already the person people are watching.
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