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 14 new bars where you should be drinking in LA.
2/24 Additions: Mikkeler, Birds & Bees, Black Rabbit Rose, Bar Clacson, and The Friend.
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.
Bar Clacson doesn’t look like much from outside, but inside you’ll find that rare cocktail bar that feels like a neighborhood hangout spot. There’s a foosball table, full-scale bocce ball, and Italian flags hanging everywhere. There’s no scene or long lines, just an extremely chill crowd drinking well-made cocktails and eating bar snacks. Order the Hole-In-The-Cup.
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.
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.
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.
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.