Best of L.A.

Best Of 2013


  • + Beverly Hills
  • + Burbank
  • + Central California
  • + Central San Gabriel Valley
  • + Chinatown/ Elysian Park
  • + Crescenta Valley
  • + Culver City/Palms/Mar Vista
  • + Downtown
  • + East L.A./Boyle Heights/Montecito Heights/El Sereno
  • + Echo Park
  • + Foothill Cities
  • + Glendale
  • + Highland Park/Eagle Rock
  • + Hollywood/East Hollywood
  • + Inglewood
  • + Koreatown
  • + Long Beach
  • + Los Feliz/Atwater Village
  • + Malibu
  • + Melrose/ Beverly/ Fairfax
  • + Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park
  • + Monterey Park/ Alhambra/ S. Gabriel
  • + Mount Washington/Glassell Park/Cypress Park
  • + Northern California
  • + Orange County
  • + Out of Town
  • + Pacific Palisades
  • + Pasadena and vicinity
  • + Pomona and beyond
  • + Riverside County
  • + Rowland/ Hacienda Heights
  • + San Bernardino County
  • + San Diego County
  • + San Fernando Valley
  • + San Francisco
  • + San Francisco Bay Area
  • + San Jose
  • + Santa Barbara County
  • + Santa Clarita and Beyond
  • + Santa Monica
  • + Silver Lake
  • + South Bay
  • + South L.A./USC/Compton/Watts
  • + Southeastern Cities
  • + Venice/ Marina del Rey
  • + Ventura County
  • + West Adams/ Crenshaw/ Baldwin Hills
  • + West Hollywood
  • + West L.A./Sawtelle/Brentwood
  • + Westchester/ LAX
  • + Westlake
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Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Bars & Clubs

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Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Happy Hour

Restaurateurs Brandon Boudet and Warner Ebbink couldn't save Tom Bergin's, but they may have successfully rescued the happy hour at another of their champion warhorses, Dominick's, a Westside fixture and famously low-key celebrity hideout. Dom's has inaugurated the Five O'Clock Meeting, held 5 to 7 p.m. on weeknights. It's an intimate offering whose hallmarks include $4 "Littles" — vodka or gin martinis, Manhattans, Champagne cocktails and Tequila Daisies — all served straight up by engaging barkeeps and fashioned with brand spirits a notch or two above the usual well-drink swill. While diminutive in name, these cocktails are still shaken and poured generously, and they pack a decent punch. You can even order a large rice ball, or two large meatballs, or a plate of bruschetta with the cocktail, and the bar tab will be only about $8. It's a retro reimagining of happy hour, with a nostalgic price tag to boot. 8715 Beverly Blvd., W. Hlywd. (310) 652-2335, —Jeffrey Burbank

Best Wine Shop That's Also a Bar
Colorado Wine Company
Photo: Andy Hermann

A bright spot on an otherwise sleepy stretch of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, Colorado Wine Company has long stood out for its cheeky, unpretentious approach to the guzzling of the grape. (The annual white-trash wine tasting, which pairs things like tater tots and pinot noir, is always a sellout.) But since moving into new, cozier digs last November, it's become something else: a Cheers-like neighborhood bar in a neighborhood that desperately needed one. Most nights of the week — especially Fridays, when they pour a five-wine flight for a mere $15 — you can find a convivial mix of locals and cork dorks from all over town crowding around the rough-hewn hunk of reclaimed wood that serves as both bar and checkout counter. There's a rotating selection of wines by the glass and six beers on tap — but pop a bottle to share with your newfound bar buddies. Corkage is only five bucks — except Wednesdays, when it's free. 2305 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. (323) 478-1985, —Andy Hermann

2305 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 90041
Best Pint by the Beach
Venice Ale House
Photo: Anya Cohen

Most beachside-bar real estate revolves around location in lieu of quality — a harrowing fact of life to the coastal craft beer lover. Where others have rested on the laurels of a nice locale, Venice Ale House unites a superb local beer selection with an ocean view. Plunk yourself onto a patio seat where you'll rub elbows with boardwalk commuters, or enjoy a slight remove at the bustling bar and choose from 32 beers originating from Colorado and points west. Note the "almost always" available chalkboard beer list in addition to the rotational selection — all are on tap. A "skate of beers" delivers a flight of four, six or eight samples suspended on an immobilized skateboard. With all that amazing beer and the enchanting sunset over the ocean, you're bound to need sustenance. Try the grass-fed burger to satisfy that primal, beer-induced hunger. This seaside pint — or flight — will be one you won't forget. 2 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 314-8253, —Erika Bolden

2 Rose Ave., Los Angeles, 90291
Best Mosh Pit
Vex Arts

When you see a great hardcore band there's always tons of energy, and this is particularly true at the Vex Arts performance space. The stuffy, sweaty room is home to the most raging slam dancing, stage-diving and dog piles in Los Angeles County. Legendary East L.A. precursor the Vex dated back to the days of Black Flag but shut its doors in 1984. Thankfully, a year ago it returned in the new location as a multipurpose space. Again spearheaded by Joe "Vex" Suquette, it hosts everything from art shows and concerts to skateboard workshops. But the real ragers are the hardcore shows, featuring veteran acts like Infest and Chain of Strength alongside up-and-comers Stoic Violence and Nomads. Once you enter the mosh pit, you won't want to leave. (Until you start bleeding, that is.) 5240 Alhambra Ave., El Sereno. (323) 221-0971, —Nicholas Pell

5240 Alhambra Ave., Los Angeles, 90032
Best Jazz Club
The Baked Potato

In decades past, jazz fanatic Clint Eastwood hung at Studio City jazz spot the Baked Potato. Oh, and Police guitarist Andy Summers gigged there following the supergroup’s breakup, Slash played in jam sessions there after Guns N’ Roses, and in recent years Joe Bonamassa has slipped in for sets before a hundred fans instead of the thousands that fill his arena shows. The venue was founded in 1970 by Don Randi, and his son Justin is there most nights now behind the bar and out front tweaking the room’s legendary sound. Music fans from around the world pass through the doors, and the club can be considered L.A.’s answer to New York’s Village Vanguard: a small room where some of the world’s greatest musicians stop by to listen and play with their peers. The patrons themselves feel like they’re sitting in. 3787 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Studio City. (818) 980-1615, —Tom Meek

3787 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Studio City, 91604
6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90035
Best Blues Club

The aptly named World Famous Barnyard is about as low-down and lively a blues venue as you'll find anywhere in the nation. Featuring live blues, soul, old-school jazz and R&B, this bring-your-own-booze celebration situation happens every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. at 97th and Main in South Central. It's nothing but a vacant lot strewn with rows of used commodes and kitchen appliances, only partially paved and barely covered with an old awning. It features a revolving crew of hardcore local blues bands but, since there's no website, no publicist and no phone, you never know what to expect — except that it'll be as genuine as it can be. 9627 S. Main St., Broadway-Manchester. —Jonny Whiteside

9627 Main St., Los Angeles, 90003
8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069
Best Blues Party
Pete Anderson's Club 652@Burbank Moose Lodge Mondays
Flickr photo: Gareth Simpson

Pete Anderson's Club 652@Burbank Moose Lodge Mondays goes down weekly at 8 p.m. (except when Pete's on tour) and runs as precisely as a Swiss clock. The acclaimed, Detroit-born guitarist and his always–first rate combo provide a luxurious, rich mess of all original blues. The music is exhilarating in its bite, feel and delivery, and always displays Anderson's obsessive fixation on what he calls the "3 Ts" — tone, time and taste. The setting is a tiny, neon beer sign–lit, old-school tavern, which is overseen by the rather eccentric, bearded Moose Lodge shot-caller/barkeep Bailey. It provides the perfect atmosphere for the music. Also: The drinks are cheap, kids are permitted, and there's no cover charge, making Anderson's Moose Lodge Mondays always a gasser. 1901 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. (818) 842-5851, —Jonny Whiteside

1901 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, 91506
Best Bar Games
Sports Harbour
Photo: JJ Strong

Three pool tables. Two pinball machines. Darts. Foosball. Shuffleboard. Ms. Pac-Man. Galaga. Air hockey. Pop-a-Shot. Sports Harbour in Marina del Rey is like a rec center with a liquor license. (Or perhaps a Dave & Buster's without all the stuff that makes Dave & Buster's the worst.) When you're not playing a game, you can watch one from anywhere in the bar, including a bench that's the port side of an old boat. The place was remodeled a few years ago and now offers a menu of standard pub fare, but make no mistake, it's still very much a dive. There's almost always a fun, friendly crowd of regulars and drop-ins hanging around — each of whom is solid competition for your game of choice. 13484 W. Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey. (310) 823-0933, —JJ Strong

13484 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey, 90292-5626
Best Respite From the Grove
The bars at the Original Farmers Market
Photo: Ali Trachta

Everyone knows that feeling when you snap at the Grove. You just blew the rent at Nordstrom, and the slow-walking tourists begin to feel as if they're caging you in. You need a calm oasis, and a beer. Thankfully, the bars at the Original Farmers Market provide both. Hop onto a stool at one of the building's two watering holes, and life suddenly seems a lot simpler. Maybe that's because, despite all the businesses that have come and gone in the last 80 years, the Farmers Market still exudes an old-timey spirit. Watching folks sniff produce and rap with the butcher is somehow soothing over a pint. The drinker next to you looks like he's been a regular since 1952, and even if he's sipping his same old domestic, the bar offers a great craft-beer selection and wine list, too. The vibe says "stay all day," and you just might. 6333 W. Third St., Fairfax District. (323) 933-9211, —Ali Trachta

6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles, 90036
Best Whiskey Bar
Daily Pint

Last year's winner of Best Beer Bar, the Daily Pint deserves another mention for its impressive whiskey selection. The watering hole offers more than 300 Scottish single malts (billed as "the largest and rarest selection of single malts west of the Mississippi") and bottles from nine different countries. Curator Chris Uhde, a former plumber from Georgia, is the ultimate anti–snob. He and owner Phil McGovern pride themselves on a list that offers something for everyone, from broke newbies to big-spending connoisseurs. Notable bottles include a standout 16-year Hirsch Reserve and a 1946 Macallan that'll run you $800 for an ounce. The Daily Pint also offers a tasting club, where members can try rare bottles and learn the basics of whiskey drinking. This is the place to get your whiskey in Los Angeles. 2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 450-7631, —JJ Strong

2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 90405
Best Cocktail Lounge
Dreams Café Hollywood

The '70s are back in full force at the hidden bar in the back of Dreams Café Hollywood, located at the Dunes Inn on Sunset Boulevard. There, you can take in vintage Coors and Bud Light beer signs, super-comfy leather lounge chairs, a big old TV and classic rock on the jukebox-turned–karaoke machine. There's a full selection of bottled beer and cocktails, along with a more limited wine list. The dark lounge has a denlike feel — there are seats for 40 — and the dim lighting makes things especially cozy. The Dreams Café showcases live bands and stand-up comedy shows from time to time, so stop by and experience retro Hollywood. 5625 W. Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. (323)465-2233, —Roger Marten

5625 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028-8523
Best Koreatown Bar
Dwit Gol Mok
Photo: Farley Elliott

You may not stumble upon Dwit Gol Mok (DGM to the locals) easily, and that's by design. The behind-the-scenes bar technically is located on Wilshire Boulevard, but the entrance is around the corner, on Berendo, through a parking lot and an open courtyard, then up a few stairs. Inside you'll find marker graffiti on all of the bare, cement walls, small wooden tables under faux hut roofs and noise — lots of noise. The Cass beers are cheap and frequent to complement the seafood pancakes, the Korean chicken wings and the plentiful, pungent gochujang, which smothers lots of the other dishes. The party lasts long into the night at DGM, and about every 10 minutes it's someone's birthday, so be prepared to endure the most pop-synth version of "The Birthday Song" you've ever heard. If you'd like to sing along next time, there's a karaoke bar back across the courtyard. 3275 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown. (213) 382-8432. —Farley Elliott

3275 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90010-1406

Best Happy Hour: Dominick's


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