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 with cheap liquor and irreverent camaraderie. Even after a minor refurbish in 2009, it managed to spit-shine itself while remaining a space safe from fake bookshelves, craft cocktails and lip-pursing snots chasing manufactured hip. Most importantly, Gold Room kept its impossibly priced, 31-year-running, loss-leader: a shot of tequila and a beer for $4. No other transitional neighborhood's watering hole has hit all the right notes with both locals and scenesters, and you can see them all peacefully rubbing elbows any night of the week. It's a place that promises never to change in the philosophical sense, which is why it remains not only the best bar in Echo Park but one of the best in all of Southern California. —Paul T. Bradley
1558 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 90026. (213) 482-5259, facebook.com/pages/The-Gold-Room/204677952897397.