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 downtown tiki bars to mezcal emporiums, here are the 12 new bars where you should be drinking in LA.
12/14 Additions: Mezcalero, Pacific Seas, Accomplice, The Edmon
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.
To be clear, getting into Pacific Seas is a production. You have to enter Clifton’s Cafeteria, walk upstairs, check in with the hostess, wait until you receive a text message, be escorted up more stairs, through a mirror, and up one more staircase. And that’s just if you have a reservation. If you’ve written off this tiki bar by now - do not. Because what’s waiting on the side is the tropical drinking paradise you’ve been searching for. There’s a massive bar, there are private corners, and there's an entire boat sitting in the middle of the place. As for the drinks? Your tiki standards, but done way better than you're used to. This place has no shortage of hype - but luckily it lives up to it.
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 The Other Side Of Green, with pear brandy and celery that tastes like springtime and eternal life all at the same time. Hungry? You can order from the Taiwanese place next door.
Do you want a strong cocktail, and also to feel like you’re in The Great Gatsby? The Edmon is your spot. It's the lobby bar/restaurant inside the newly remodeled Historic Hollywood Hotel, and it provides a much-needed drinking hole for one of the more forgotten corners of Hollywood. There’s definitely a restaurant component here, but our move is to stroll up to the massive bar, throw back a few Old Cubans, and order their excellent burger and fries to soak it all up.
Good Housekeeping might take a little extra effort to get to, but it's worth it. Located in the back patio of Highland Park’s Cafe Birdie, the tiny free-standing spot is (thankfully) not trying to be another speakeasy we don’t need. It’s just a cool bar you either know about or you don’t. The cocktail list is small but excellent (get The Farmer’s Market Fix), and if you’re sticking around for dinner at Cafe Birdie (highly recommended), you can bring your drink with you inside.
It’s not often we get really excited about a wine bar, but Tabula Rasa has given us good reason to. The new spot on Hollywood Blvd. in Thai Town has a stripped-down, almost industrial feel to it, with a laid-back crowd to match. The wine list is short but solid, and they have great beer as well. The best surprise of all? The tiny snacks menu. There’s simply no reason that Cubano needs to be so good.
Downtown bars tend to fall into two general categories: rowdy, post-work sports bars and high-end cocktail joints with dress codes. There’s a time and place for each of those, but other times, you just want something in between. Enter Brack Shop Tavern, an upscale-ish sports bar with a cool vibe, great cocktails, and an outstanding beer list. There’s also a pretty hefty food menu, with the Welsh Rare-Bit (essentially melted cheese on bread) being the after-work comfort food we don’t deserve but will gladly eat.
Is this the most needed bar in Los Angeles? Very possible. La Brea has certainly come into its own in the last few years, but the fact remains - there are almost no places to grab a drink. Say hello to Loreley, the outdoor German beer garden on the Weho/Hollywood border that is fairly no-frills, but has a great patio and a solid beer list, and isn’t a total production trying to get into on the weekend either. But you’ve been warned - the crowds are coming.
If all bars could be more like Resident, the world would be a better place. That might be high praise for this new Arts District bar, but it doesn’t take long to understand all the things this place gets right. For one, it’s almost entirely outdoors. Second, the outside bar exists in an Airstream and the cocktails and beer list are fantastic. Third and most importantly, you simply want to hang out here. The atmosphere is fun and laid back, and there are even water misters for all your day-drinking needs.
MiniBar feels like a membership-only bar at a 1960’s airport. The mood is low-key, 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.
All things cool seem to be congregating on Highland Park's York Blvd these days, but down on Figueroa, things have progressed a bit slower. Enter ETA - a small, relatively bare-bones bar making the kind of cocktails you walk a few blocks extra to get. Get the In The Middle Of Summer - it’s spicy and wonderful. This is your ultimate nightcap bar.
You know that truly gigantic, three-block-long white apartment building you see every time you’re down at Smorgasburg? That’s One Santa Fe, and it’s home to a new cocktail bar you'll want to start going to immediately. This area of the Arts District is admittedly not the easiest to get to, but Westbound’s cocktails are worth it. The Art Deco-ish interior that makes it feel like you’re in a luxury train car to Tahoe (and free popcorn) never hurt anybody.