10 Best L.A. Spots for a Girls Night Out
It's bachelorette party season, and after hours of (terribly unpleasant) research, our staff has come up with a list of great places for a night out on the town with your girlfriends. Cheers to that!
10. Yamashiro Hollywood
Where it is: 1999 Sycamore Ave., Hollywood, yamashirohollywood.com
What is it: Historic Yamashiro restaurant has an elegant indoor bar — a glassed-in perch where you can look out over the vast and twinkling city while sitting at a table or by nabbing a seat at the "Hollywood Hills view" counter along the lounge's north wall. Unlike Yamashiro's charming outdoor Pagoda Bar, which is more touristy and open in the summer only, the indoor lounge serves the full Yamashiro dining menu. It draws an attractive clientele of aspiring actors, Hollywood tech people and deal-makers.
What to wear: If you rarely get a chance to pull your perfect little vintage cocktail dress out of the closet, the time is now.
What to order: Crunchy snow crab roll, Cobia ceviche or Kurobuta pork carnitas. To slake your thirst, a glass of Pinot Grigio or the Yuzu Lychee cocktail.
How much it'll set you back: $32 or so for one drink, one starter and valet parking.
Where to keep the party going afterwards: Bar Marmont, 8171 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood —Jill Stewart
Glass bottles decorate Bacaro.
Photo by Katie Buenneke
Where it is: 2308 S. Union Ave, USC area, bacarola.com
What is it: A wine bar and restaurant specializing in cicchetti, which are like tapas, but Italian. The vibe is hip and communal — it's pretty small, so everyone sits pretty close to their neighbors, but for some magical reason, it's never too loud.
What to wear: Anything goes. You'll see plenty of folks in nice t-shirts & jeans, but dresses aren't out of place either.
Standard crowd: USC students, film folks working downtown
What to order: Pretty much everything on the menu is delicious, but the sangria pitchers, truffle mac & cheese, and hangar steak are particularly good. And don't skip the baguette with garlic oil — it's much better than it has any right to be.
How much it'll set you back: $15-$20 for two small plates and a glass of wine during happy hour (5-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, all night Sunday). If you want to work up a nice wine buzz, Monday nights are the best night to go: glasses of wine are half off, and sangria is discounted all night. —Katie Buenneke
Where it is: The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood, facebook.com/Funkmosphere
When it is: Thursday nights
What it is: Going to "the club" sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. Sure, you and your girls are smoking hot and never would be forced to linger in a line, but parking in Hollywood is a headache and attitudes are snotty. Plus, you'll spend the whole night fending off a pack of (douchey) wolves. Bypass that train wreck and head to East Hollywood for a party helmed by local indie label Stones Throw's ambassador of the boogie, Dam-Funk.
What to wear: Skip the stilettos, because you'll actually wanna dance. Dam-Funk and residents spin '80s funk, boogie and electro, and even if you don't recognize every record, you won't sit down. Oh, and it can get sweaty, so if there were ever a time to break out that crop top, it's now.
What to order: Settle in early and sip one of the house's craft cocktails (keep it classy with the Air Mail, a mix of rum, honey, champagne and lime) for only six dollars. Happily, happy hour runs late, from 7-9 p.m., and a free jukebox provides a perfect warmup.
How much it'll set you back: There's a cover charge of five bucks if you arrive after 10:30, and those cocktails you've been kicking back increase to $10 after 9. You can valet, but there's plenty of free street parking, too. Compared to a club night, it's a steal.
Where to eat before grinding it off: Fuel up for the get down at Home, a restaurant that feels like a treehouse. Fill up on big salads or burgers that all can be made with turkey patties, or order breakfast, which is served all day. Don't worry, you'll burn off those banana walnut pancakes. —Rebecca Haithcoat
7. The Eclectic
Where it is: 5156 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, theeclectic.com
What it is: Atmospheric, sleek, ultramodern wine bar and grill with an extensive list of about 80 wines including many by the glass, set amidst the NoHo Arts District of cafes, theaters, thrift shops and a gallery or two. It attracts a mostly under-35 crowd of creatives, industry workers such as animators and other NoHo and Studio City locals.
What to wear: Hipster rags, tight jeans, designer thrift store finds, old blazers.
What to order: The deliciously effervescent Borgo Magredo Prosecco split from Italy, the yummy, dry-yet-fruity Daniel Gehrs Pinot Gris from Santa Barbara or a premium cocktail for $12 like the sweet-but-sour Blackberry on Rye (with rye, fresh blackberries, pineapple and orange bitters). Small plates and happy hour bites worth trying are the mac 'n' cheese, chicken quesadilla with chipotle cream or baked mushrooms stuffed with spinach, gruyere and walnuts.
How much it'll set you back: Outside of happy hour, it's $9 to $15 for a glass of wine, $12 for a premium cocktail and $9 to $16 for small plates ranging from portobello fries to grilled prawns with creamy polenta. During happy hour you can enjoy a drink for $5 to $7 — if you can remember the somewhat complicated discount hours, which are Monday through Friday 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday 8:30 p.m. to closing. As with much of the San Fernando Valley, if you look around you can find free parking — but watch out for meters that run until 8 p.m.
Where to keep the party going afterward: No Bar, 10622 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. An appealing dive bar with juke box, flocked wallpaper and pool room. —Jill Stewart
Clothing is optional at Jumbo's Clown Room.
Photo by Lina Lecaro
6. Jumbo's Clown Room
Where it is: 5153 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood, jumbos.com
What it is: A clown room doesn't sound like anywhere you'd want to take your girlfriends for a night out — especially after you find out that it's a strip club. But this circus-themed dive bar dating back to 1970 is a female-friendly Hollywood staple with a rock n' roll legacy. (Courtney Love was rumored to have danced on stage in the '90s.) The largely-tattooed pole dancers don't actually get naked, and they've always got enviable — if not, downright gravity-defying — dance moves paired with classic rocks anthems hand-picked from the jukebox.
What to Wear: Jumbo's is casual, so there's no need to get dressed up in cocktail attire. In fact, it's more about what you don't wear to Jumbo's than what you do wear. But with near-nude women performing acrobatics on stage, who's even looking at your outfit, anyway?
What to order: There's a two-drink minimum in lieu of a cover charge, and Jack and Cokes are poured with a heavy hand. You can also order a pitcher of beer to share with your whole table.
How much it'll set you back: It depends how big of a tipper you are and whether you can afford to "make it rain." Bring singles to tip and a few larger bills since there's a $20 minimum on credit cards. This is a dive bar, after all.
Where to party beforehand: Start off your night of drinking by filling up on pad thai from any of the excellent restaurants in Thai Town (we recommend Jitlada if you've got time to put up with long wait times.) Then head to Harvard & Stone (5221 Hollywood Blvd.) for a cocktail before a line starts to form around 10 p.m. on weekends. —Jennifer Swann
5. Wi Spa
Where it is: 2700 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake, wispausa.com
What it is: A Korean spa that's so big, it's almost a self-contained universe. When you check in, they'll give a little bracelet that looks like a Swatch, only there's no watch. Instead, it opens your locker and connects to your credit card — so conceivably you and your gal pals could just stay within the walls of this 24/7 edifice until you run out of money, lounging on the hot clay or salt in the sauna, dipping the whirlpool, sharing a shaved ice, using the free WiFi and then napping it off. Oh, and you could maybe even get a treatment or two.
What to wear: Something you can leave in a locker. Upon arrival, you'll each get a pair of shorts and a T-shirt as monochromatic and unflattering as your fourth grade gym uniform. After you ditch your possessions in your locker, you'll walk around barefoot in these chic little outfits for the rest of the evening.
What to order: A Thai massage, duh! And though we have friends who swear by the body scrub, it's only fair to warn you: The brave gals who take on this treatment will be lying naked next to each other while someone's Korean grandma scrubs the beejezus out of every inch of their body. At least if you get a massage you get your own little cubicle.
How much it'll set you back: Basic entrance costs just $25 and includes access to the four saunas, the whirpool, the common areas, and the restaurant. Treatments are extra, but a 35-minute body scrub is only $30. Massages are a bit pricier — but if you spend $90 or more, they'll waive the entrance fee.
Where to eat after your treatment: At the spa restaurant, of course. Portions are huge and the food is quite good. Naturally, you can just put any expenses on your little plastic watch. Why not treat the girls to some bibimbap? — Sarah Fenske
Barnsdall Art Park
4. Barnsdall Wine Tasting
Where it is: 4800 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood, barndsall.org
When it is: Friday nights
What it is: What's better than cozying up at a wine bar for a girls' night out? Taking advantage of living in a city with a mild enough summer climate that you can drink outdoors without so much as wiping away a drop of sweat or swatting a mosquito. Barnsdall Friday Night Wine Tastings do you one better by supplying a Instagram-perfect backdrop for your party: the Hollywood sign. You pack the picnic, and Silverlake Wine pours four selections from artisanal wineries around the world.
What to wear: A cute sundress and comfy sandals. Unless you valet or arrive before the 5:30 p.m. start time, you'll probably have to park at the bottom of the hill and hike up. Bring a light sweater, too. It might get a little chilly after the sun sets. The sweltering rest of the country sheds a tear.
What to order: Women really can have it all here. Try one, try all!
How much it'll set you back: Tickets are $25, which includes a wine glass that's yours to keep. Valet is offered this year, which will set you back another $8, but there's free parking a five-minute walk away at Kaiser Permanente. If you really want a stress-free night, forget loading up a picnic basket and just bring cash for the food trucks that attend.
Where to keep the buzz going: Since the night will be young when the tasting winds down, stroll over to Covell, a mere 10-minute walk away. A little tipsy? No problem. Give the wine Einsteins behind the bar a hint or two about what you like, then let them tip a delicious bottle into your glass. —Rebecca Haithcoat
Courtesy Hollywood Improv
3. The Hollywood Improv
Where it is: 8162 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, hollywood.improv.com
What it is: A comedy club, and a pretty darn good one at that.
What to wear: Something unobtrusive — do you really want your hot-pink bachelorette party boa to become a jumping-off point for the comedians on stage? (OK, you can also avoid this by staying far, far from the front row, and shushing your drunk girlfriend intent on soaking up the room's attention.)
What to order: At least two drinks. They have a mandatory minimum here, and while non-alcoholic drinks are an option, they aren't exactly cheap.
How much it'll set you back: Surprisingly, not a whole lot. Purchased in advance, tickets can be as low as $10 per person, although of course you'll also have to pay for those drinks. Yes, the best-known comedians can be significantly more expensive, but one of the best things about living in L.A. is that even the lesser-known locals are hilarious. Plus you never know who might show up and do a surprise set, or who's sitting one table over laughing even louder than you are (Miley Cyrus? Yep, she's a fan).
Where to eat before the show: There's a swanky new BBQ restaurant right on site called Roadhouse L.A. But if smoked sweet corn flatbread and craft cocktails are more your girlfriends' thing, Crossroads is the city's best vegan restaurant — and so close you'll only have to park once for both dinner and the show. —Sarah Fenske
2. The Villa
Where it is: 22160 Ventura Blvd., ?Woodland Hills, thevillawoodlandhills.com
What it is: Beautiful chalet-like indoor-outdoor gourmet Italian restaurant with an classy, small indoor bar with stools arranged next to an elegant sofa area. Plus, outdoors, a huge park-like dining patio edged by soaring eucalyptus trees with a tiny bar where you and friends can migrate your drinks after ordering indoors. The Villa draws a lot of upscale professionals and couples.
What to wear: Find your flow-y white linen pants and halter top or hottest little white dress, because this is a great summer spot with outdoor temperatures hovering in the mid-70s to low 80s long after dark — and no need for a coat or sweater. (In winter, the entire outdoor area is fully heated and a big fireplace is going indoors.)
What to order: A mouth-watering starter such as Di Stefano Burrata (peaches, pine nuts, heirloom tomatoes, baby arugula, focaccia) or handmade Ricotta Raviolini (tomato jam, brown butter, sage), plus one of their tasty specialty martinis or a chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
How much it'll set you back: It's an expensive dinner menu. But you're going for drinks — and luckily at happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., well drinks are $5, select wines $6, draft beer $4 and specialty martinis $7. Six kinds of scrumptious flatbreads are $7. After happy hour, expect to pay $10 to $15 for one starter and $9 to $14 for glass of wine (from a decent list of domestic and foreign) or a martini. Luckily, you can usually find free parking on the nearby streets, so the final damages are far cheaper than in WeHo or Hollywood.
Where to keep the party going afterward: Rive Gauche Cafe and Bar, 14106 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. So French they haven't even got a website. —Jill Stewart
Courtesy of 3Twenty
1. 3Twenty Wine Lounge
Where it is: 320 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-City, 320southwine.com
What is it: 3Twenty is a combination restaurant/wine bar/tasting room/social scene/place for semi-boozy lady chats, if you're using the space to its fullest. It has a great small plates menu and delightful wine list, but before you settle into your table, you can peruse the space-age looking wine tasting machines wedged between the tables. Happily, you can do so during dinner, and after, as well.
What to wear: Casual wine tasting attire, which means no white, and boots made for walking.
What to order: The tastings are your oyster, so have as many of those as you fancy. There are also a handful of cheese plates, and this is a wine bar, so you may as well just go for it on those.
How much it'll set you back: The great part about this spot is you can spend as little or as much as you'd like: a couple of tastings a few bites? Easy. Can't leave without trying every pinot? It's your paycheck.
Where to keep the party going afterwards: After all that wine, you may need a beer. Little Bar, just a few blocks south, will take care of you. —Ali Trachta
Public Spectacle, L.A. Weekly's arts & culture blog, on Facebook and Twitter:
Get the Theater
Your weekly guide to local culture with calendar listings and theater, dance, and comedy reviews.