It’s been a long night, but the fresh air on your Lyft ride home gave you a second wind, and suddenly you want one more drink. When this situation arises, you need a bar that meets some specific criteria - zero lines, no cover charge, and a crowd that’s as unphased as you are by what your hair’s doing right now. Also, you need guaranteed seating because you’ve been on your feet all night, and you and your friend need discuss the guy from the last spot who had a live parrot on his shoulder. Here are 11 bars that’ll get the job done.
There’s nothing particularly special about this Melrose dive bar, and that’s exactly why we like it. The drinks are cheap, the bartenders will talk to you, and you’ll always be able to find an empty table or two - ideal after a long night of standing around in an overpriced cocktail bar you didn’t want to be at in the first place. They also have a jukebox, which goes without saying that if dancing to the Grease medley with your two best friends in a half-empty bar isn’t how you want to end your Saturday night, then we have nothing in common.
Bernadette’s in Downtown is an ideal spot for a low-key nightcap because it’s never too crowded and the place kind of feels like a basement from the 70s. There’s palm leaf wallpaper, a Garfield phone on the wall, and shelves of weird knick-knacks that look like they came from your uncle’s garage sale. The drink menu is small with only wine and craft beer, but they do have a frozen rosé drink that should be ordered no matter how late you stumble in.
After barhopping down Figueroa and York in Highland Park, switch things up and end your night in nearby Eagle Rock. Walt’s has a retro 1950s aesthetic going on, but not in a sad Mel’s Diner kind of way. The crowd is relaxed, but down to have some fun, and there’s a good amount of seats if you’re done standing for the evening. They also have an excellent craft beer list, popcorn, and pinball machines.
Date night in is going great and it’s clear that neither one of you wants this to be over. Head to Alibi Room for a nightcap. This neighborhood bar in Culver City rides that perfect line between calm and fun. If the triangle-shaped bar is a little too crowded for whatever you were looking for, head outside to the quiet side patio instead. Also, they serve Kogi tacos from a takeout window inside the bar until midnight.
Located on a quiet stretch of Historic Filipinotown, Crawford’s is one of those bars you start thinking about two bars before you actually end up there. The space is pretty small, but they make the most of it with a billiards table, a few video games in the corner, and big red booths. It’s beer and wine only, which is good news for you because you downed five vodka sodas at the last bar, and it’s time to take your foot off the gas. If you get there before 11pm, they serve some of our favorite hot chicken in the city.
Come to Kibitz Room at 10pm and you’ll find an empty space with uninterested bartenders and a warlock in the corner playing a sitar. Come at 1am, and you’ll find a nearly identical scenario - except the place will be absolutely slammed. This is where half of Hollywood comes every weekend to drink one last whiskey on the rocks before heading next door for pastrami reubens at Canter’s, which is open 24 hours.
During the day, this nautical-themed dive bar in Long Beach is more of a diner, but at night it turns into a full-on live music venue with a great beer list, a casual crowd, and a late-night food menu that goes till 1am. Drinking at The Pike feels like you’re drinking at a bar from one of those ’90s movie where everybody could break out into song at any moment simply because they’re having a good time. And that’s exactly how we want every rowdy night to end.
Koreatown is our favorite nightlife neighborhood in LA and a place where a quick beer turns into an all-night sloshfest with levels of rowdiness you forgot existed. And after several hours of soju bombs, karaoke, and over-capacity dive bars, you’re going to need a comedown spot. Go to Toe Bang. This casual sports bar has cheap beer, solid bar snacks, and plenty of tables for you and your friends. Also, it’s called Toe Bang.
It’s been a long night out in Hollywood and you’re heading home. Then suddenly, your Lyft driver starts blasting vintage Janet and you realize you have one more in you. Time to go to Know Where Bar. This tiny bar in East Hollywood is the antithesis to pretty much every other Hollywood bar - no lines, no covers, well-made cocktails, and good music that you actually want to listen to. This place can get crowded late at night, but everyone here is so laid-back you aren’t even mad that you can’t find a seat.
Squeezed into a Little Tokyo strip mall, The Mermaid is a cool, crowded dive bar with fantastic cocktails (get the Drink Your Vegetables) and a snow cone machine. If you head to the back by the bathrooms, you’ll find yourself peeking into a ship portal to watch mermaids swim by. It’s just a video on loop, but it never really gets old. The bar is also just a few blocks from the Arts District, making it a fantastic last stop after drinking at mediocre breweries all night.