Where To Drink Alone In LA
15 bars where people appreciate the lost art of shutting the f*ck up.
Grabbing a drink with friends, coworkers, or someone you bonded with in line at the DMV is all well and good, but sometimes life calls for a different kind of company—yourself. Drinking alone has its stigmas, but when executed properly (i.e. with confidence), there are few things more therapeutic. All that matters is a cold drink and the peace of mind that comes with knowing no one will talk to you unless you engage. Here are 15 bars where you can have both.
Kibitz Room is a classic dive on Fairfax that’s famously attached to the late-night pastrami brouhaha known as Canter’s. Although this place is open daily from 11am-2am, the best time to come here is well after the sun has gone down. Maybe you got off a late shift or are currently in the dog house with your significant other, either way, Kibitz is the kind of place that always has cheap cold beer waiting and a weird dude in the corner plucking strings on the guitar.
Nothing about Oy Bar’s dimly lit interior feels particularly remarkable. Dated wood paneling lines the walls, old chipped-up swivel stools dot the bar, and 1980s-era dropped ceiling tiles hover above everything. In other words, it’s exactly how a dive bar should look and the reason why this Studio City spot is so ideal for a quick drink or two by yourself. There are two daily Happy Hours (one from 6-7pm, the other from 11-11:30pm) featuring $6 boilermakers and $9 daiquiris and Old Fashioneds, but whatever you ask the bartenders to pour you, it’s going to be well-made. Be sure to take advantage of their excellent bar food menu too, with dishes like reuben quesadillas, matzo ball ramen, and one of our favorite burgers in LA.
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The Honor Bar
It’s 10:30am and your boss has already used up his passive-aggressive quota for the day. Break early for lunch and head to Honor Bar. Attached to South Beverly Grill, this all-day bar is our favorite place in Beverly Hills to grab a quiet drink and mumble witty hypothetical comebacks in our head. Sure, this place is part of the aggressively corporate Hillstone empire, but the sleek, dimly-lit space feels entirely separate, like you just stumbled into the back bar of a fancy hotel in Tribeca. The martinis are strong, the fries are crunchy, and the burger is one of the best in the neighborhood.
With a sleek, art deco-ish interior and craft cocktails made with ingredients like Burmese tonic, this Glassell Park bar wouldn’t be out of place on the ground floor of The Roosevelt. But instead of chaotic valet lines and lost club kids, you’ll find a low-key crowd consisting of first date nightcaps and young parents getting in one last round before the babysitter calls. Stroll in by yourself for their weekday Happy Hour from 4-6pm (and 2-6pm on the weekends) and get $4 tap beers, $8 tap wine, and $10 house cocktails.
The HMS Bounty
Walking into HMS Bounty, the nautical-themed dive bar in Ktown, on a weekday afternoon is a feast for the senses. The place feels like you stepped into steerage on an aging cruise ship: there are musty leather booths, “Careless Whisper” quietly playing over the intercom, and scattered tables filled with old dudes sipping well tequila from a shot glass. In other words, it’s an absolute dreamscape and the kind of place where you could hang out for hours and have no one—besides the bartender, of course—attempt to make eye contact with you.
Formerly MiniBar, the tiny drinking hole inside the Best Western on Franklin maintains the look and feel of a membership-only airport lounge in the 1960s—there’s a dark, wrap-around bar, a drinks menu filled with every classic cocktail in the book, and the ever-present possibility that you might go home with a pilot. OK, there are probably zero pilots at Lily’s, but it’s fun to dream. Also, if there’s a more natural place to drink alone than the ground-floor lobby bar of a chain hotel, we don’t know it.
Joe Jost’s has been in operation since 1924 and is a Long Beach institution. This legendary bar on a quiet stretch of the Eastside is not where you go for a late night of cocktails and dancing. It’s where you go by yourself Sunday afternoon to drink giant, frosty schooners of beer with a room full of local pirates, play some billiards, and eat pickled eggs and pretzels in the corner. It’s bizarre and wonderful and a place no one should miss.
Despite having a name that sounds like a lower-tier music festival outside Las Vegas, Electric Owl has become one of our favorite neighborhood watering holes in Hollywood. The indoor/outdoor space is actually quite large, but when it comes to drinking by yourself, you’ll want to grab a seat at the front bar outside. It can definitely get crowded here (particularly during their 4-7pm Happy Hour), but in general, people will leave you alone. Plus, your mouth will definitely be filled with their tremendous smashburger.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
The Old Place
You just got into your third fender bender in as many months and now all you’re thinking about is a peaceful life somewhere far away from the LA city limits. Go scratch that escapist itch at The Old Place. The historic saloon/steakhouse up in the Santa Monica Mountains has been open since the late 1800s (it was originally a post office) and feels worlds away from the chaos of your daily life. While we certainly endorse eating a full meal here, sliding up to the bar and taking advantage of their lengthy craft beer and wine lists is an excellent way to clear your mind and remind yourself why you chose this life.
Bar Bandini in Echo Park always seems to get the mood just right—especially during those times when you just want some wine and some silence. The wine list features predominantly natural wines, including eight on tap, and a reliable rotating beer selection as well. They don't have a permanent snacks menu, but there always seems to be something good to nibble on, like this incredible part-burrata, part-mozzarella cheese situation that you'll absolutely want to finish yourself—another benefit to coming solo.
The best part about drinking by yourself at Chez Jay is that every other person inside this classic Santa Monica dive is also drinking by themselves. There are peanut shells on the floor, a jukebox that probably doesn’t play anything recorded after 1983, and a giant fish mounted behind the bar that always seems to be staring directly at you. No one’s going to tell you the steak is the best in town, but it is pretty good - and so are the lobster tails.
Augustine Wine Bar
Your car just got out of the shop yesterday and the check engine light is already on again. Time for wine. Augustine is one of our favorite places to drink in The Valley because the wine is good and there’s plenty of space to burrow in by yourself and silently curse the friend who convinced you to buy their cousin’s car. The bartenders will let you taste as many wines as you’d like until you find the one you want, and if you get hungry, there’s a menu full of cheese, charcuterie, and other things that tastes good while drinking wine.
One of the most iconic beach bars in all of LA, Hinano never ceases to disappoint when all you need is a cold beer, a semi-invested bartender, and a pirate slumped over in the corner. Located right off the Venice Boardwalk, Hinano is the kind of place that feels like it’s 2am inside no matter when you arrive, and that’s ideal after storming out of your office this morning because your assistant just got promoted over you. If you get hungry, their burger is way better than it needs to be.
Located on Cahuenga Blvd. in Universal City, A Simple Bar resides on a stretch of pavement most people reserve for screaming in their car while driving home in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Give your vocal cords a rest and make a pit stop at this neighborhood bar instead. They have an excellent daily Happy Hour from 4-5pm with 2-for-1 specialty cocktails, a massive floor-to-ceiling TV, and live music several nights of the week.
It’s that point in the week when all human interaction makes you irritable, and the only solution is cold beer and hot chicken. Head to Crawfords. The Historic Filipinotown dive is the kind of place where you can sit at the bar or in a big red booth, stare off into the distance, and not say a single thing to anyone. Their beer list isn’t the biggest in town, but they always have a good selection of local brewers, and the hot chicken they serve at the bar is one of our favorites in LA.