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The LA Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now

PHOTO: Alen Lin

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 doesn’t have a strong reputation for cranking out good, new bars at a consistent pace, so unfortunately, we scoured the city drinking at some pretty lousy ones. But we also found some great ones. From rooftop patios in Hollywood to outdoor Airstream bars in the Arts District, here are the 11 best bars you need to be drinking at in LA.

the spots



428 S Hewitt St.

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.


Mama Shelter

6500 Selma Ave

One of the best new rooftop patios in the city? Check. Good drinks, foosball tables, and a movie screen playing old Hollywood classics? Check, check, and check. The weekend crowds here can definitely get intense, so plan ahead and get a table. Or just stick to weeknights when the vibe is calm, bar seats are available, and that after-work rum drink is hitting all the right spots.

Photo: Mama Shelter / Facebook


1992 Lincoln Ave

Despite all the gentrification going down in Venice these days, its main thoroughfare (Lincoln Blvd.) remains a little sad on the eyes. With never-ending traffic and enough muffler shops for every car in LA, The Lincoln hopes to not only help change that, but to give this part of Venice the kind of bar they were dying for. Weekend lines can get long, but the crowd remains low-key. There are also Top Gun-themed cocktails. Get involved.

Photo: The Lincoln / Facebook


6141 Franklin Ave

MiniBar feels like a membership-only bar at a 1960’s airport. 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.


Nighthawk Breakfast Bar

417 Washington Blvd

Nighthawk opened up in Hollywood earlier this year with breakfast-themed cocktails and a cool atmosphere earlier this year in Hollywood, but quickly closed up shop due to a leasing issue. And we were left wondering if we’d ever get that boozy cereal milk again. Update: You can. The breakfast bar is back open now, this time in Venice, and better than ever. All the breakfast cocktails are still there, and they even have a full weekend brunch now too. And the Venice crowd keeps things even more low-key.



184 N. Canon Deive

The idea of grabbing drinks in Beverly Hills is something we wouldn’t wish upon on even our worst enemies. But sometimes, it just has to happen. Maybe you’re catching a show later at the Wallis Center or your mom’s best friend who you kind of remember from childhood wants to see you and this is the only place she feels safe. Either way, it’s happening and Citizen is finally here to help. There’s certainly a large restaurant component to Citizen, but the move is to go directly to their bar area, which has a fun energy and fantastic cocktails.

Photo: Wonho Frank Lee


5630 N Figueroa St

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 some of the best new cocktails we’ve had in awhile. With titles like Meet Me In Montauk and Nevada In The Middle Of Summer, they’ve got the name game down too. But seriously, get the In The Middle Of Summer - it’s spicy and wonderful. This is your ultimate nightcap bar.

Photo: ETA / Facebook


2616 Beverly Blvd

Any time a dive bar closes down and gets redone into a new bar with a dive-y theme, things don’t normally go well. Except for Crawford’s. This little spot in Historic Filipinotown is everything you need in a neighborhood drinking hole. A solid beer list, a pool table, buck hunter, and never any lines outside. Oh, and they serve fried chicken at the bar and it’s insanely delicious.

Photo: Brant Cox


300 S Santa Fe Ave

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 seem like you’re in a luxury train car to Tahoe, and free popcorn never hurt anybody.

Photo: Alen Lin

Bar Mattachine

221 W 7th St

And just like that, DTLA’s gay scene is back and better than ever. While we love all the new spots for different reasons, we always seem to end up back at Bar Mattachine. The two-story space is great, and slightly more upscale than you would imagine. But not so much so you feel uncomfortable throwing a few back. And thank god because the cocktails are very good. And so is that Sunday brunch situation.

Photo: Bar Mattachine / Facebook


819 S Flower St

Give us a light-up, technicolor dance floor and we’re already in line. Give us a light-up, technicolor dance floor and intergalactic-themed cocktails, and we might never leave. Honeycut has been one of DTLA’s best places to get your groove on for awhile, but its new weekday concept, The Deep End, is giving us all the David Bowie vibes we could ever want. The music is great, the crowd is fun, and YOU’RE DRINKING ALCOHOL FROM OUTER SPACE.

Photo: Honeycut / Facebook
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