In order to help you figure which new restaurants are actually worth going to, we created the Hit List, our guide to recently opened LA restaurants that are actually worth your time and energy. That’s right, we actually get off our asses and go try these places - just because a place is new and has pretty pictures, does not mean you should be spending your money there.
And now, we’re doing the same for bars. LA isn’t especially skilled at cranking out good new bars at a consistent pace, so we admittedly ended up drinking at some pretty lousy ones. But we also found some great ones. From a Danish craft beer bar to a speakeasy with magic shows, here are the 20 new bars where you should be drinking in LA.
8/28 Additions: Rudolph’s Bar & Tea, The San Fernando Bar, Art Major, Lono, The Cat & Fiddle, Electric Owl, Tom Bergin’s, and Rhythm Room.
It’s not often we get excited about hotel lobby bars, so Rudolph’s is a rare exception. Located on the ground floor of the new Freehand hotel downtown, Rudolph’s has a cool Laurel Canyon in the 70’s vibe, fantastic tea-infused cocktails, and a hot crowd that isn’t composed of lost hotel guests Googling better places they can drink. If you’re looking for a great place to grab a cocktail or two before seeing a concert or game downtown, Rudolph’s is as good as it gets.
Located in an industrial stretch of western Glendale, The San Fernando comes out of nowhere, but is the kind of weird neighborhood bar we didn’t know we needed so badly. The space is modern with very few frills, and the drinks are as affordable as they come. Couple that with bartenders who’ll actually talk to you, commuter trains rolling by the windows every now and then, and a tiny stage in the back with nightly live music, and you begin to feel like you’re in another time and place completely. And we certainly aren’t complaining about that.
When you’re completely sick of every bar in town, go to Art Major. The new space in Ktown calls itself an “art bar”, which basically means you get to play a bunch of old-school board games from your childhood, doodle in coloring books, take instant Polaroids and hang them on the wall, and get really drunk with your friends in the process. Frankly, it’s not as much a bar as it is a giant public living room for games and intoxication. Wine and beer only.
Anytime a new bar opens up with a Hollywood Blvd. address, it’s fair to be a bit skeptical. But Lono, the new and very large tiki bar right in the heart of the neighborhood, will prove that skepticism wrong. This place has gotten very popular very quickly thanks to strong drinks, a fun space, and the kind of laidback crowd you don’t usually find in Hollywood.
Attention: The Cat And Fiddle has returned. The legendary British pub that closed down a few years back due to a leasing dispute is now in the old Mud Hen Tavern space at Highland and Melrose, and they haven’t missed a beat. Though they’ll never be able to reproduce the magic of their old courtyard on Sunset, the patio space here is still nice and the relaxed neighborhood atmosphere, affordable prices, and solid bar food all successfully made the trip over.
Taking over the short-lived Gardner Junction space on Sunset, Electric Owl is a new bar/restaurant that, despite the bizarre name, is as good a spot to grab a quick drink in West Hollywood as any. The casual indoor/outdoor space has a palpable train station aesthetic, but not in the cheesy way that makes you embarrassed for suggesting it. The drinks are good and if you get hungry, the bar menu isn’t too shabby either. This isn’t the place you post-up all night and get rowdy at, but if you’re looking for a cocktail or two with a friend or client or first date you aren’t sure about, Electric Owl is your spot.
So what’s one of the oldest bars in LA doing on the best new bars list? For one, there’s a brand new, membership-only (which you can purchase there) whiskey bar in the attic with one of the best American whiskey stocks in the city. Second, there’s a new to-go liquor store in the back if you feel like drinking back at home tonight. Couple all that with a refreshed food menu, a new billiards hall, and still the best Irish coffee in the entire world, and the time is now to be drinking back at Tom Bergin’s.
Greetings from the best new big group bar in DTLA. The place is still in soft open, but it’s already clear this place is going to be a big hit. Located in a basement on 6th and Spring St, the space itself is massive with a huge bar and whole separate lower area full of ping pong tables, billiards, shuffleboards, and tons of tables for you and your friends to take over. Also, they have a cocktail with beef jerky in it.
Located on the ground floor of the Super 8 in East Hollywood, Girl At The White Horse seems like that bar that’s almost too cool for its own good - until you spend a night drinking there and realize you never want to leave. The place isn’t big, but it’s broken up into tiny nooks and crannies that make it seem like it goes on forever. The cocktails are great (and served in plastic to-go cups with straws, which is actually just practical), there’s a wild little dance floor with a disco ball, and the crowd just wants to have a good time. Girl At The White Horse got it all right.
What’s that? A new bar on the Westside that’s actually interesting? Welcome to The Bird Cage, a fantastic new spot that feels like you’re walking into a Miami-themed house party in the 1980′s. Located in the attic of The Victorian on Main Street (above Basement Tavern), the space itself is massive - complete with a living room area, two bars, an outdoor patio, and a few drag queens walking around mixing things up. Basically, it’s a complete blast and the kind of bar Santa Monica needed yesterday.
Add The Parker Room to the ever-growing list of Hollywood bars that are actually enjoyable. The tiny space on Vine was most recently a vegan Peruvian place, but don’t let that confuse you. Long before that, it was a jazz club in the 1940’s - and The Parker Room feels like a throwback to that. There are excellent cocktails, live music on Tuesdays, and big band playing over the loudspeaker most of the night. But don’t think this is one of those overproduced speakeasies you’re tired of either. The Parker Room is casual, unintimidating, a great place to grab a drink after work, and an even better place to get a little rowdy on the weekends.
Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be more room for another downtown brewery, in comes Boomtown and proves there’s always space for more beer drinking. Boomtown has only been brewing for a short while, and they’re still in build-out mode with their beer selection, but you need to be drinking here for their tap room alone. Located on the northern edge of the Arts District, Boomtown’s space has a massive interior full of high-tops, long couches, billiards, and shuffleboard, a great patio, and a private event space for big parties. You’re tired of the lines at Angel City and Arts District Brewery, so it’s time to put Boomtown into the rotation.
Bernadette’s is a new downtown bar with a 1970’s basement party vibe and if that sounds familiar, no, this is not Good Times At Davey Wayne’s. In fact, it’s kind of the antithesis of Davey Wayne’s. The space is small, unpretentious, easy to get into, and the kind of place you go into for a quick drink after work and end up staying for two hours. They have a solid craft beer stock, a snacks menu (hello, $2 cans of Pringles), and the best Michelada we’ve had in awhile. Downtown is always in need of more places without long lines and obnoxious shticks, and it got one in Bernadette’s.
In the world of craft beer and the people who drink it, the name Mikkeller is a big deal. Hailing from Copenhagen, this bar/brewery/sometimes a coffee shop has select locations around the world, and now has a new spot in an old discount tire store in DTLA. And guess what? It’s awesome. The massive space feels like an old German drinking hall, there are over 50 taps (arranged by the temperature at which they’re served) from around the world, and there’s a burger that’s sneakily fantastic.
Birds & Bees is really the tale of two very different bars. Come on a Saturday night after 9pm and you’ll be dealing with lines and long negotiations with the bouncer to get all your friends in. Come during the week, however, and you’ll find one of the best cocktail bars to open downtown in a while. For being essentially in the basement of a random office building, the space itself is large and open, with an overall feel like you’re drinking in a really swanky fallout shelter. And maybe you are. But really, you’re here because of those cocktails. Get the gin and pistachio-based Smuggler’s Eye Opener.
The Houston brothers (the guys behind Davey Wayne’s, Breakroom 86, and No Vacancy) are back, and this time they’ve gone all in on magic. Located in what was formerly their Butchers And Barbers space on Hollywood Blvd., Black Rabbit Rose is part speakeasy bar and part magic show theater - though it’s not entirely clear at first how to approach either. So we’ll help - the theater is a ticketed situation (via their website), with prices running about $40 per person for a show that runs about 45 minutes. If paying that much to see cool sleight-of-hand tricks and some very flexible girls dance around isn’t your speed tonight, the good news is you can still walk in and drink at the (very cool) bar regardless. Bonus: You can order food at the bar from a Thai takeout window next door.
Drinking at The Friend feels like you’re drinking on the set of a 90’s WB show. There are tiny striped awnings on the walls, fake windows that don’t actually look outside, and just about everything is painted pink. And frankly, we’re ok with this reality. The Silver Lake bar does get pretty crowded on the weekends, but the weeknights remain calm and the kind of casual local cocktail bar that will actually have you believing you’re on a 90’s TV show. Tables are limited though, so if you’re looking to catch up with a few friends, be sure to get there early.
Mezcalero opened pretty quietly on Broadway, but it’s quickly become one of our favorite drinking spots downtown. The place is bigger than it looks, and it has a fantastic, casual atmosphere that frankly is hard to come by around these parts. The drinks (yes, they involve a lot of mezcal) are phenomenal, and if you can’t find anything you want on the menu, the bartenders will happily make you something you’ll like. We’re also not mad about their tacos and some spicy guac when the munchies kick in.
From the outside, Accomplice looks like one of those sleepy neighborhood wine bars you’ll get to when your parents are in town. And while they certainly have some wine on the menu, Accomplice is more than that. They serve the kind of cocktails you drive (or get driven) across the city for. Our move at this sleek bar is This Is Not A Tiki Drink, with mezcal, pineapple, passionfruit, and sherry. It’s definitely not a tiki drink. Hungry? You can order from the Taiwanese place next door.
MiniBar feels like a membership-only bar at JFK in the 60’s. The mood is subdued, the cocktails are strong, and you might go home with a pilot. Ok, there probably aren’t any pilots at MiniBar right now, but the crowd is definitely good looking and much more tolerable than what you’d find elsewhere in Hollywood. Located on the ground floor of the way-cooler-than-you-think Best Western on Franklin, another bonus is being directly across the lobby from Cafe 101 for when the late night munchies hit.