The Top 10 Bars in Santa Monica

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Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 4:50 AM

click to enlarge Cocktail at Basement - COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
  • Colin Young-Wolff
  • Cocktail at Basement
Bordered by the Pacific, the Palisades and the 405, Santa Monica is home and host to every shade of bar and every breed of drinker. Tourists may be our bread and butter, but they're also the bane of our existence, and we prefer our drinking establishments to be minimally invaded by camera toting, directionally confused, Hawaiian shirt wanderers. From a classic dive with the best scotch west of the Mississippi to a wine bar that supplies Scrabble on Sundays and a subterranean cocktail session supervised by the mounted head of a buck, we toured the bars of the West Side to bring you the best drinking holes in Santa Monica.

Slideshow: Drinking in Santa Monica: The Best Bars

click to enlarge Bar at Chez Jay - COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
  • Colin Young-Wolff
  • Bar at Chez Jay

10. Chez Jay

Delighting Santa Monica patrons for the last half-century, Chez Jay is not only an institution, but a registered Santa Monica Landmark. From the genuine neon sign to the crunch of peanut shells underfoot, there are no frills here, just good service and good drinks. You'll be unexpectedly charmed by the checkered tablecloths and red vinyl booths and happily satisfied with an ice cold cocktail and a round of steamed clams.

1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 395-1741

See also: The Ten Best Bars in Culver City

click to enlarge Inside Brick + Mortar - COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
  • Colin Young-Wolff
  • Inside Brick + Mortar

9. Brick + Mortar

You won't likely find Brick + Mortar tucked behind the buildings on Main Street unless you're looking for it. Don't be distracted by the DJ spinning in the wine storage, there is something for everyone at this bar and restaurant for the young and urban. The menu includes baked pita a and a carefully chosen cheese plate, and most everything is served on rustic boards. Brick + Mortar offers a full list of beer, wine and cocktails and a weekday happy hour from 12-7p.m. 2435 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 450-3434.

click to enlarge Sangria at Bungalow - COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
  • Colin Young-Wolff
  • Sangria at Bungalow

8. The Bungalow

If you always wanted to spend your summers at sleepaway camp (or were always denied an invite to all the coolest house parties), The Bungalow is for you. Vintage details, oldies music and a retro cocktail menu at this hotel-adjacent bar by the beach are so carefully curated you'll be surprised you weren't offered a post-war costume at the door. Bungalow is the perfect place to make visiting friends jealous that you live in Santa Monica while you sip a can of Golden Road and play ping pong. Arrive anytime after opening hour and you'll be waiting in line. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 899-8530.

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