Best Of Bars & Clubs
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Best South Bay Bar
In the South Bay, where new bars sprout up constantly, sometimes you just want to go to a place that had it right 30 years ago. Though it's within walking distance of several brighter, hipper operations, Redondo Beach's Bull Pen is a windowless wonder that still manages to make magic...
Best Revitalized Music Venue
The fact that the Sunset Strip, mainly known for museum-piece metal bands, is relevant again is thanks almost entirely to the Roxy, where a new talent buyer has been on a roll. Since joining the Roxy in January, Goldenvoice's Chris Diaz regularly scoops Eastside competitors such as the Echo and...
Best Gin Bar
The Flintridge Proper
Were the Flintridge Proper to have an official song, it might go something like this: "220 bottles of gin on the wall, 220 bottles of gin. Take one down, pass it around. 219 bottles of gin on the wall." At this watering hole located in the northern suburb of La...
Best Bar to Stalk Celebrities
Pop into the Windows Lounge at the Four Seasons Los Angeles for a cocktail and you might run into Mick Jagger, Kate Hudson or Peter Dinklage. This swank Beverly Hills hotel is where many celebrities stay when they're in town — particularly during Emmy, Golden Globe or Oscar week —...
Best Westlake Bar
Unless you got lost looking for the on-ramp to the 110 freeway downtown, you'd never stumble upon the Monty if you didn't already know about it. That's part of what makes this unassuming dive on the eastern fringes of Westlake so appealing. From the outside, the spot looks as unsavory...
Best Bar With Free Tacos
All of 1933 Group's concept-driven cocktail bars — including Thirsty Crow, Oldfield's and Bigfoot East and West — offer outstanding happy-hour specials. Mexican-inspired Highland Park tequila bar La Cuevita is no exception. This cave-themed tavern (La Cuevita means "little cave," after all) is adorned with Mexican paper flags and drawings...
Best Highland Park Bar
Above the Hermosillo brewpub sits an illuminated sign depicting a Tinkerbell-esque blonde in an emerald bodysuit, a remnant from the escort club previously housed in the space. Inside, the Hermosillo combines old-school comforts (retro vinyl booths, shuffleboard and an overhead projector displaying daily beer lists) with of-the-moment dining trends, including...
Best Koreatown Lounge
Koreatown doumis — karaoke-room party companions — and hostess-bar girls might be a dying breed. The last wave of South Korean immigrants in Los Angeles crested long ago, and young Korean-Americans appear to prefer the glamour of Hollywood dance clubs to the grit of K-town venues serving little more than...
Best Happy Hour
Bon Vivant has a rustic industrial vibe that's classy yet laid-back, a perfect backdrop for chilling out and filling up after work or before a big night out. Which fits, considering that the bar's name means "person living well," from the French. From 4 to 7 p.m., well drinks and...
Best Echo Park Bar
In a world where dive bars are under constant threat of going under (or worse, going Bar Rescue), Gold Room stands tall. It feels safe to say it will never lose the true spirit of itself and what a legit dive represents — a place to lube the workaday grind...
Best Silver Lake Bar
Tucked away along the leafy side of Hyperion Avenue and identified only by an old-school barber pole and a dark-as-your-drunk-soul exterior, Hyperion Tavern perfectly encapsulates its neighborhood. It manages to represent the tastes of both your freaky baroque pop aunt and your bibliophile uncle; lined with old tomes and punctuated...
Best Boyle Heights Bar
The Boyle Heights nightlife scene has come a long way in the last decade, partly thanks to the Metro Gold Line, which runs right through one of the historic neighborhood's main corridors, First Street. There have always been local Mexican dive bars in the area but, until recently, not much...
Best Mar Vista Bar
The Corner Door
Westside neighborhood Mar Vista is up and coming, but it has mostly resisted the thorough gentrification seen in Santa Monica, Venice and the hipster Eastside. Still, a number of new markets, bars, restaurants (even a record store) now dot the area, and many are excellent. Our favorite drinkery is the...
Best Venice Bar
For a neighborhood that's both a bit rough around the edges and positively loaded with the young and the rich, Venice really ought to have a better drinking scene. We blame the glorious scenery: Who wants to spend the night getting hammered when they know the surf will be calling...
Best Place to Drink on the Sand
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
Beaches are great, but the ones in L.A. are missing one big thing — and we're not talking about warm water. (That's for wusses.) No, the appalling lack of booze on our beaches is something a place like Miami would never put up with. In fact, to our knowledge, the...
Best Retro Club
That '80s Bar
Feeling forever young? Then take a trip back in time to the decade that Pac-Man made at That '80s Bar, a Montclair hangout for those of us who still want our MTV. Sure, they have tribute bands who impersonate Prince and Duran Duran, but this spot also hosts real bands,...
The bougiest (and best) karaoke bar in town is a bit complicated to find. Once you've arrived at West Sixth Street and Virgil Avenue, a sign that says "Grand Spa" indicates you're in the right place. Go past the makeshift night market — where you might find two older men...
Best Bar Trivia
Ken's World Famous Trivia Night!
What's a good excuse to sit around a pool table drinking beer and not playing pool? If you answered, "Ken's World Famous Trivia Night!" at Q's Billiard Club in West L.A. on Wednesdays, you are correct. While it's questionable whether the night is world-famous, it is undoubtedly worlds of fun...
Best Santa Monica Bar
Santa Monica has a split personality. On the one hand, it's beachy and laid-back: No shirt? No shoes? No problem. On the other hand, it's tony: Montana Avenue boasts upscale shops and high-end restaurants. The best bar in Santa Monica should be a perfect melding of these two worlds, and...
Best Vape Lounge
Move over, hookah lounges: The vape lounge could be the next big thing. If that happens, VapeDay in South Carthay will be king of them all. The 4,000-square-foot, bright-white store is a bespoke space for the e-cigarette revolution. The place just launched this year. It stays open until midnight and...
Best Gay Dance Party
In a town where gays tend to gravitate toward WeHo or Silver Lake, it may come as a surprise that L.A.'s premier gay dance party thrives in hetero-centric Hollywood. Founded in 2001 by DJ Ray Rhodes as an unapologetically pop music–focused night, TigerHeat experimented with various locations before settling in...
Best Offbeat Valley Concert Venue
Rancho Cordillera del Norte
Elisabeth Waldo is one of L.A.'s multicultural treasures. She's a concert violinist and composer who is also a musical archeologist. First tapped by Leopold Stokowski for his youth orchestra, La Waldo went on to play violin for film soundtracks, record her own exotica albums and consort in Latin America with...
Best Time to Go to a Trendy Club
Picture the scene: It's Saturday night. Hottest threads, check. Perfectly coifed hair, check. Waiting on the besties to come over and slam a few pre-drinks before ridesharing to the flyest new club, check. But that's not your scene. That's some young fool who's missing the best time to be out...
Best People-Watching Bar
Pot Lobby Bar
Celebrity chef Roy Choi is among those behind the new Line Hotel, Koreatown's answer to boutique, hipster spots such as the Standard and the Ace. The hotel's watering hole, Pot Lobby Bar, is basically a supper club masquerading as a cocktail spot. The hip-hop is loud, and the semicircular bar...
Best Bar With a View
Don't wait in that long dinner line slowly snaking into Moonshadows in Malibu. Waltz right into this pretty shorefront restaurant and go for a seat in the Blue Lounge outdoor patio or the separate tiny, ocean-overlooking balcony bar. Here's your decision: Stretch out on one of the Blue Lounge's beach-y...
Best Bar with Comedy
If you’re looking for a spontaneous comedy night, the Virgil is an easy go-to spot. It’s not like, say, Upright Citizens Brigade, where you have to get tickets ahead of time. The schedule is anchored by weekly comedy show Hot Tub with Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal, but there are...
Best Place to Watch Ryu Pitch
Mok Maru Jong Sul Jip
Koreatown signage can be confusing along Western Avenue, but you'll spot Mok Maru Jong Sul Jip immediately from the giant banner featuring Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. If you can't make it to the stadium, rally here. But don't just do it for the obvious reasons, such as the cheap-enough pitchers...
Best Bar With Live Music
The Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge
The Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge at the Queen Mary is the coolest spot around to hear live music, no matter who's playing. Sure, the lineup of jazz, blues, Latin and Top 40 bands isn't bad, but it's hard to give your complete attention when you're enjoying drinks from...
Best Bar in the Valley
The Local Peasant
There's no sign heralding the Local Peasant, but ever since this "eat pub" opened last year in Woodland Hills, it has been jammed, and on weekend nights the roar can be heard well before you pull up to the valet. The interior is covered in raw materials and wormwood planking,...
Best Bar in Playa del Rey
Prince o' Whales
Pleasantly scruffy and charmingly low-key, the Prince o' Whales is the kind of bar they just don't make in Los Angeles these days. This is not a place to see and be seen or, heaven forbid, sip the latest mixology trends. This is a place to drink and, if you're...
Best All-Ages Club
Some all-ages clubs are so loosely organized, it can feel like Lord of the Flies when there's an open-mic night or a battle of the bands. But Pehrspace creates a distinctively different atmosphere. Established by Adam Hervey and Darren King in 2006 and run by volunteers, the not-for-profit, garage-size space...
Best Tequila Bar
When beverage director Jason Eisner was asked to create an agave-only spirits program from the ground up at Gracias Madre, he jumped at the chance. The result is a bar, specifically a mezcaleria, that features more than 100 agave — and only agave — spirits, from tequila to mezcal to...
Best Bar on Abbot Kinney
So you managed to squeeze in at Gjelina, Tasting Kitchen, Salt Air, Axe or one of the other high-priced hot spots on Abbot Kinney for dinner. Bully for you! But $150 later, your meal is done, and you'd better believe they want that table back. So what's a thirsty couple...
Best Dance Club
With all of the amazing talent hosted by Avalon, Create, Sound and King King, it's pretty clear Hollywood is at the top of the heap when it comes to booking the best electronic dance music DJs. But the rise of downtown Los Angeles nightlife, most notably in the realm of...
Best Whiskey Bar
A high-end whiskey tasting room with an old-school look and a welcoming attitude, Bar Jackalope is the bar-within-a bar at downtown's Seven Grand. The primo whiskies are hand-picked from Seven Grand's list of 200-plus bottles, not to mention only-at-this-bar bottles from distillers. Pick a flight served straight up (great for...
Best Hollywood Bar
The Three Clubs
Lots of people can tell you that the Three Clubs has been featured in Mad Men, but it bears repeating, if only to give you a mental picture of what you can expect inside this Hollywood spot, especially on quieter days. You'll come in, sit down in a dark, quiet...
Best Culver City Bar
The Blind Barber
There's no sign on the street to tell you where the Blind Barber is, just an illuminated, striped barber pole. Yes, you can get actual haircuts and shaves at the barbershop. But the real attraction isn't the front salon. You enter the "secret" rear saloon through an unmarked door at...
Best Day-to-Night Bar
Zinque is the Diane Von Fürstenberg wrap dress of restaurants. During the day, its airy interior resembles an Apple store, considering how many Mac laptops are in use. But at night it's a different story: Wine glasses, oysters and occasionally live music make you feel as if you're in a...
Best Long Beach Bar
The Exhibition Room
Long Beach speakeasy the Exhibition Room opened last year. It's located inside a former storage unit for an upholstery company, and is connected to the neighboring Roxanne's Lounge only by a 1940s-era phone booth. It is not easy to gain entry, however. Keeping in mind that it's open only Thursday...
Best West Hollywood Bar
Rock & Reilly's Irish Pub
When it comes to nightlife, West Hollywood has a swanky side (see: Sky Bar), a slutty side (see: Santa Monica Boulevard), a riotous side (see: the Roxy), and gay bars are their own animal. But if we're simply talking about booze and the best spot in which to pound it,...
Best Bar Game Night
Wolf & Crane
If you've ever played Cards Against Humanity, you know that the filthy, politically incorrect (yet hilarious) fill-in-the-blanks game is much better with alcohol. Which means there's nobody better to play against than an entire bar full of booze-fueled opponents. Stop by Wolf & Crane in Little Tokyo every Wednesday night...
Best Dance Club
Though some see disco as a blight on American pop music that will hopefully not be resuscitated, others consider it our country's pinnacle of dance music. L.A. types who fall into the latter camp are likely to be seen at Giorgio's, a Saturday night party at the Hollywood Standard. Though...
Best Piano Bar
Red Lion Tavern
Sure, you can get bratwurst and goulash while sucking back German pilsners and lagers. But what makes the Red Lion Tavern so great is its charming and cozy piano bar. Seven nights a week you're in luck if you fancy a sing-along, everything from Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" to New...
Best Late-Night Destination
There are many after-hours spots in L.A. — Sound Nightclub, Los Globos and Alvarado House for starters. Most feature relentless bass. Hey, if you're up for it, that's awesome. But after the bars close, many of us are looking for something a little more relaxing, and Bamboo House in Los...
Best Eagle Rock Bar
The Black Boar
Part neighborhood drinkery, part dive bar, the Black Boar is a dying breed, the type of place where the bartender will give you a proper glass from which to drink your Corralejo Blanco tequila, rather than a generic shot glass. More importantly, they won't measure out your shot and will...
Best North Hollywood Bar
Walking into Tonga Hut is like traveling back to 1958. The San Fernando Valley tiki bar looks on first glance as if it hasn't changed much since opening 56 years ago, though in reality a new owner restored it to its former midcentury glory in 2005. Tiki Ti may be...
Best Pasadena Bar
The word "dive bar" gets thrown around a lot, but to gaze upon the real deal, pull up a stool at Pasadena's 1881 Club. What you'll find are pool tables, darts, stiff drinks, lots of bottled beer (though only Bud on tap) and witty slogans on the wall — our...
Robin Jackson, Oldfield's
There's no shortage of bartenders who can whip up an elaborate cocktail at L.A.'s trendiest mixology bars. Of course, most of these suspender-wearing drink slingers take their craft so seriously that it could take all night before you ever get to taste their all-too-precious concoctions. That's simply not the case...
Best Arcade Bar
Unlike what you might imagine an adult arcade to be like, EightyTwo is not the sweaty domain of grown-up nerds. Rather, it's a video game paradise that's as sleek as it is chic. Housed in a metallic, 2,000-square-foot warehouse, this Arts District cocktail bar boasts 15 pinball machines — which...