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. Its classic 1970s wooden decor decorates what is essentially a giant dive bar, with a dining room of banquettes and affordable filet mignon. Multiple generations of South Bay locals convene here daily, making for a melting pot of personalities whose main commonality is that they enjoy the stiff drinks poured by vested bartenders. That and the live, smooth-rock covers, sometimes performed by wizard-looking men with flutes. —Sarah Bennett
314 Avenue I, Redondo Beach, 90277. (310) 375-7797, thebullpenredondo.com.