The Best Places To Drink In Koreatown guide image


The Best Places To Drink In Koreatown

Koreatown has the best nightlife in Los Angeles. Here’s how to make sense of it all.

The secret is out—Koreatown is the best nightlife neighborhood in Los Angeles. Whether it’s a nautical-themed dive, a hidden bar with a glowing money tree inside, or an at-capacity beer garden where chain-smoking is a form of communication, you’ll always find the kind of drinking spot you didn’t even know you needed tonight. But if you go in unprepared, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or, even worse, head home early.

So instead of spending another Saturday night wandering around 6th street, read this guide to the 12 absolute best drinking places in Koreatown and know exactly where you’re headed this weekend. Or tonight.


Hanshin Pocha

Foods that are saucy, spicy, and/or require gloves to eat usually go hand-in-hand with beer—and that's exactly what Hanshin Pocha specializes in. Located on the third floor of the City Center on 6th, this Korean pub chain serves whole golden fried chicken and crispy pork belly pancakes, but they are most famous for their stir-fried chicken feet. These tender chicken bits arrive bubbling in a spicy sauce that leaves you in a healthy sweat, making that ice-cold beverage 10x more refreshing. It's a bit messy to eat (which explains the gloves), but you’ll actually be combating tomorrow's hangover while simultaneously causing it.

Jail Joa is a "jail"-themed Korean pub. What does that mean exactly? Well, there are metal bars separating the different "cells" (dining rooms) in this neon-orange bar/restaurant, which is as deep as the oddball theme gets. The huge pink photo booth, disco ball, swirling LED lights, and K-Pop music do not scream incarceration. The main reason to go-to Jail Joa, however, is to eat excellent bar food on plastic stools with pitchers of beer and soju— get the whole fried chicken that bursts with juice when you bite in.

Star Night is the kind of loud, sceney Koreatown bar where grabbing drinks can easily spill into dinner, more drinks, and having a soju-fueled heart-to-heart over a basket of fried chicken. And apart from this place serving OB Bear's beloved crispy fried chicken, there are plenty of other reasons you should come to Star Night for your next birthday, bridal shower, or eventful team happy hour. The modern indoor-outdoor bar has a spacious patio with plenty of heaters, a large food menu with everything from wings to fried chicken gizzards and army stew, and a blue-lit bar that can pour up whatever cocktail or quantity of tequila shots you're in the mood for.

There’s really nothing quite like Dan Sung Sa on a Saturday night. The dark, all-wood tavern is jam-packed, the smoke from the central grill fills every corner, and everyone is drinking soju like it’s the last batch in the world. In short, it’s a chaotic dreamscape. The large menu is full of skewers, scallion pancakes, and other excellent Korean bar food, all of which is designed to hold off your inevitable hangover.

Hidden along Western, Ddong Ggo is a wild indoor/outdoor beer garden that you can stumble into at any point of the night and find yourself in the middle of the biggest party in the neighborhood. Out on the patio, you’ll find groups of chain-smoking friends engaging in private drinking contests, and inside, things get even louder with TVs blasting Korean pop videos and a private karaoke room if it’s that kind of night. And at Ddong Ggo, it usually is.

A long night of K-town karaoke is a rite of passage in LA, and while there are dozens of great private room spots to choose from, Brass Monkey’s one-room-sing-for-your-life sh*tshow is something everyone must experience at least once. 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. Just make sure you brush up on your Journey lyrics beforehand, because the crowd here expects the best.

If it weren’t for the lack of winter jackets and self-loathing, you’d swear you were in New York. But you’re not. You’re at one of our favorite cocktail bars in the neighborhood. The Normandie Club is dark, kinda cramped, and full of well-dressed people drinking Old Fashioneds. It’s an excellent first stop before a night out in K-town, or where you head after a great dinner date for some strong drinks and possible extracurriculars in a back booth.

Dwit Gol Mok (or DGM, as it’s commonly referred to) feels like the center of the universe, or at the very least, the center of tonight’s Koreatown drinking adventure. The sprawling space has endless nooks and crannies full of friends drinking soju and drawing on the graffiti-covered walls. The whole place feels more like an open-air night market than an indoor bar on Wilshire. When it comes time to line your stomach with some food, be sure to get a seafood pancake and the spicy chicken wings.

Koreatown is a neighborhood where a quick beer turns into an all-night drinking expedition with levels of rowdiness you forgot existed. And after several hours of soju bombs, karaoke, and over-capacity dive bars, you’re going to need a comedown spot. Go to Toe Bang. This casual sports bar has cheap beer, solid bar snacks, and plenty of tables for you and your friends. Also, it’s called Toe Bang.

You probably don’t always want to go bowling, but when you do, go to Shatto 39. The bare-bones space has $7 games at night and is open till 2am every day. The bar has affordable, dangerously strong drinks that will somehow also enhance your ability to roll a strike. Also, don’t worry if you forgot socks. There’s a vending machine where you can buy a pair.

Plain and simple, HMS Bounty is not cool. And that’s exactly why it is cool. This dive bar on Wilshire has been around since the dawn of time and has an aesthetic that could be described “senile pirate’s living room.” But the drinks are cheap, the crowd is fantastic, and the $19 baseball steak is way better than you think it’d be.

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 - you can sign up on their website to have it emailed to you. Once you’re inside, you’ll find a dark, relaxed space full of cool people, and live music that isn’t invasive. Thursday night karaoke is no joke either.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Jakob Layman

The Best Places To Drink In Koreatown guide image