La Descarga
Food & Drink

43 Los Angeles Bars You Need to Drink in Before You Die

Published On 09/15/2015
The Abbey

The Abbey

West Hollywood
It's one of the most famous gay bars in the world and -- no matter your sexual preference -- it plies you with great drinks, an ultra-friendly staff, and one of the best patios in LA, with plush seating areas that start as day-drinking hubs and end as sloppy nighttime spots. Often a few hours later.

Flickr/SookieBonTemps

Alex's Bar

Long Beach
Is there anywhere else in LA where punk-rock history and excellent craft cocktails collide in a bar that looks like a From Dusk Till Dawn bordello? No, no there is not.

Flickr/Juan Monroy

Angel City Brewery

Downtown
You're gonna want to drink at this local brewery at least once (and at most, way, way, way more than that) because if you don't, you'll never know what you're missing out on: one-day-only special beers? Craft fairs? Music festivals? It changes every day.

Blue Palms Brewing

Blue Palms

Hollywood
Welcome to mecca for LA beer geeks -- there's not a more knowledgeable hop-staff in town. Nope, not even there. No dude, not there either.

Flickr/Jared Eberhardt

Cafe Brass Monkey

Koreatown
At some point, you need to stumble in here, sing a Bon Jovi song with 10 Korean businessmen pouring soju down your throat when you hit the pinnacle of "Livin' on a Prayer," and immediately forget it ever happened.

Flickr/Duncan C

Chez Jay

Santa Monica
From a strictly historical perspective, Chez Jay has to be on here; Santa Monica's gone through so much development in the last decade that it's something approaching a miracle that this legendary bar/"steakhouse" from the '50s is still there, right by the pier, doing what it's been doing since your grandparents were there -- doling out heavy pours and massive steaks, steps from the ocean.

Flickr/Amy Dozier

The Daily Pint

Santa Monica
Nowhere else in LA is the great-beer-to-great-whiskey-to-friendly-staff-to-pool-to-arcade-game ratio this high. Nowhere.
 

Drawing Room

Los Feliz
Because every Angeleno needs to drink at 6am while '70s soul blares in the background at least once. And this is the place where that can happen.

Flickr/Karen

The Echo

Echo Park
If indie rock had an official home base, it would look a lot like The Echo: no real signage on the outside, a big, dark room on the inside, and bands like Vampire Weekend and St. Vincent playing tiny local shows before they break out. If you want some sort of "I'm-still-cool" bragging rights (which, don't lie, you do), you'll grab at least one beer here. Just to say you did it.

Flickr/Jason Brown

The Edison

Downtown
This cavernous underground bar in an old power plant was one of the first to really make craft cocktails a thing in LA. Nearly every alcohol surgeon in town got their start here before moving on to... well, tons of the bars on this list. But the room is still absolutely stunning; its glamour is only helped by one of the strictest dress codes in the city, which makes every night out there (even if it's, like, only one ever) feel like an event.

Flickr/Nan Palmero

The Escondite

Downtown
Extra bonus points for Skid Row-adjacent grittiness.

Flickr/Floyd B. Bariscle

Frolic Room

Hollywood
If you live in Hollywood and don't hit a dive bar, you're not really *living* in Hollywood -- and when the Powerhouse closed last year and reopened with a fresh ingredient-driven cocktail menu, it left this divey-divey-DIVEY dive as arguably the last one in that part of town, and has the cast of characters to prove it.

Golden Road Brewing

Golden Road Brewing

Glendale-ish
You'll play Jenga, drink rare beers, hang out on the patio, and wonder how the afternoon became 1am all of a sudden.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Good Times at Davey Wayne's

Hollywood
The fact that it has best secret entrance in town is enough to get it on this list. But it also has alcoholic sno cones. And '70s cover bands. And furniture from your parents' house.

Flickr/Daremoshirani

Hinano Cafe

Venice
Is there a better 1:30am burger/beer/picking-up-the-last-call-leftovers bar on the Westside? No. There is not.
 

HMS Bounty

Koreatown
Why is there an old-school nautically themed bar right in the center of the city nowhere near a beach? You'll have to go to find out.
 

The Hotel Cafe

Hollywood
Neither a hotel nor a cafe, this beloved, mostly acoustic music venue is notable not just for the parade of stars who have made their way through the intimate hall over the years (Adele! Mumford & Sons!! John Mayer!... ?) but the lobby bar as well, which serves as both a dimly lit waiting room for the performance space to clear out between acts and a meet-and-greet area for fans who want to throw one (or two! or three!!) down with a potential next big thing.

Jumbos Clown Room

Jumbo's Clown Room

Thai Town
Look at that photo above. Seriously, do you need to ask why you need to go to this place?
 

King Eddy Saloon

Downtown
At some point, you'll be stumbling Downtown and be like "Won't somewhere just give me a cheap shot and a beer instead of this mixology bullshit?" And then you'll find King Eddy and you'll be like "oh... this place will."
 

La Descarga

East Hollywood
There's a salsa show, and a cigar lounge, and a secret entrance, and you'll feel like you've been transported to Havana, but right outside the door's not just one, but TWO amazing taco trucks. You win.

Jeff Mller/Thrillist

Moe's Tavern

Universal City
Everyone has to have a Duff at least once in their life. That's just a fact.

Flickr/Arturo Sotillo

The Musso and Frank Grill

Hollywood
I mean, the bartender is the VERY SAME DUDE who used to serve martinis to Sinatra. Ask him for a cocktail. And stories. He has tons of both.

Flickr/Steven Kreuzer

Rainbow Bar & Grill

West Hollywood
One day, you're gonna want to drink like Mötley Crüe, but you're not gonna want to do it anywhere else on the strip, because, uh, duh. But the Rainbow? The Rainbow still works. Just ask Lemmy from Motörhead, who will inevitably be sitting in a corner holding court.

Brian Sussman/Thrillist

Ray's & Stark Bar

Mid-Wilshire
One of the great pleasures of living in LA is the ability to drink outside nearly year-round. One of the great pleasures of drinking outside nearly year-round is doing it at this patio bar at LACMA, in a too-deep recliner, while a jazz band is playing and you're looking at the iconic lights out front.

Flickr/PDXDJ

Saddle Ranch

West Hollywood
This notorious transplant bar is not really a "you gotta drink there before you die" place, but more of a "you're inevitably going to drink here and ride the mechanical bull and not remember it before you die" place.
 

Sam's Hofbrau

Downtown
This is LA's sleaziest strip club. Also there is no cover. Also it has $3 beers. Also it shows sports. Also you should go. Once. (Or twice.)
 

Sardo's

Burbank
Tuesday is Porn Star Karaoke at this Valley dive bar, which is exactly what it sounds like, and is something you literally can't do anywhere else. In related news, it's unclear if anyone has ever been there on a day other than Tuesday.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Sassafras

Hollywood
Um. They deconstructed a Savannah townhouse and REBUILT THE DAMN THING INSIDE THE BAR to make it feel like you're in the South. Also, the bottled drinks are delicious.

Flickr/Zagat Buzz

Seven Grand

Downtown
Take a chance on a whiskey or three you've never had -- the bartenders here breathe it and the selection is extraordinary. If you're feeling especially lush, make an attempted entrance to the secret Bar Jackalope in back -- that's where they're hiding the Japanese stuff.

Skybar

Skybar

West Hollywood
You'll go here once 'cause, well, you need a selfie here. And even though the years of Lindsay Lohan appearing randomly in it have passed, that's totally OK.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Smog Cutter

Silver Lake
It's the shittiest best karaoke bar you've ever been in. Promise.
 

The Spare Room

Hollywood
Most bowling alley bars serve watered-down Budweiser and your bowling neighbor is some guy named Earl. Wouldn't it be nice if once in your life you went to a bowling alley bar where they served fresh-ingredient cocktails, had custom-made board games for when you were taking a break, and your bowling alley neighbor was a model named Natasha? Yes, once in your life, that would be VERY good. And it's possible here.

Flickr/Tarsten Titleback

The Standard Downtown

Downtown
You're gonna come once for the view -- and then you're gonna stay for the DJs, the beds you can drink in, and the pool you can drink in.
 

The Stave

Long Beach
Patient zero of the LBC's bar scene? Right here, in a world-class whiskey bar -- right in the heart of what could be considered LA's second city.

Surly Goat

The Surly Goat

West Hollywood
There's no beer bar in town that gets geek culture as much as The Surly Goat (the owner of which has gone on to open other brew-heavy enterprises like Little Bear and Der Wolfskopf), which was doing pours of hard-to-find and local craft beers before nearly anyone else in town -- which now means it's got the inside scoop to limited releases and tap takeovers year-round.
 

Ten Pound

Beverly Hills
One day, you're gonna get a baller bonus, and on that day you should call up the Montage in Beverly Hills, ask to go to its hidden bar Ten Pound, take the stairs up over Scarpetta, sit on its porch, and drink a crazy-old pour of Macallan.

Flickr/Sam Howzit

Tiki-Ti

Silver Lake
Strong Tiki drinks. Crazy chotchkies. In-bar chanting. You want to go to this party. Bad.

Flickr/Eliot Philips

Tom Bergin's

Mid-City
Shamrocks and Irish coffee. Done.
 

Tony's Darts Away

Burbank
An upscale dive bar? Yep, and it's in the Valley, where a lot of the off-Ventura bars are cookie cutter. This one, though, has both dartboards and great beers, plus next-level sausages.

Flickr/Harry Heng

Troubadour

West Hollywood
John Lennon drank there. The Eagles drank there. The Red Hot Chili Peppers drank there. And you will need to drink here -- probably while packed into the back bar, watching a band that will be playing The Forum a year from now.

Tyler O'Steen

The Upstairs at the Ace Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown
Heading upstairs at the Ace feels like a special event, due to the bar's impeccable view of the city, impeccable drinks, and the impeccable feeling that you are somewhere very, very special (the ability to take an Instagram of the "Jesus Saves" sign from above doesn't hurt, either).

Flickr/Kenn Wilson

The Varnish

Downtown
More than any other, this bar has brought LA into the national cocktail conversation: the drinks here are always top-top-top level, served in a room that feels appropriately both adult and wild, especially on Sunday nights, when Naughty Niki sings -- and flirts -- for everyone in attendance.
 

Venice Ale House

Venice
There are plenty of places to sit by the beach with a beer. There are not plenty of places to sit DIRECTLY ON THE VENICE BOARDWALK WITH A SUPER-GOOD BEER AND FOOD. Venice Ale House is one.

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Jeff Miller is so thirsty. Offer to buy him a drink on Instagram at @JeffMillerLA and on Twitter at @ThrillistLA.

Up Next
Food & Drink

Where to Watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Los Angeles

Published On 06/08/2018
W e Americans may lag in our collective enthusiasm over pro soccer, but we’re certainly trying these days, with an increasing interest in our own league and, more locally, a shiny new stadium just unveiled downtown. The World Cup kicked off on June 14 this year, hosted by our old pal Russia, and plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants around LA will be airing games throughout the tournament (some will even be opening at 5am for die-hards who can’t miss a kick). Bummer the US team didn't make the World Cup this time around, but you can still join in the revelry, cheering on whatever country you like, or just drinking and people-watching (or all of the above).
We’ve been doing some recon to scope out the best bars in LA to watch the World Cup this summer, and even checked in with former US men’s national team members Alexi Lalas and Stu Holden, who are a part of the FOX World Cup broadcast team, for some tips on their favorite soccer spots in Los Angeles. And be sure check back for updates on opening times and food and drink specials!
Joxer Daly's

Joxer Daly's

Culver City

Laid-back neighborhood bar with tons of beers and ample TVs
Joxer Daly’s is that quintessential neighborhood watering hole with its laid-back semi-divey vibe, decent pricing, and killer imported beer selection along with a patio of outdoor tables overlooking a nothing stretch of Washington Boulevard. The bar, which draws a mixed crowd of die-hard regulars, after-work imbibers, day drinkers, and yes, soccer fans, is also guaranteeing it will show every single game, opening at 5am for your viewing pleasure.
Specials: None, but the owners insist that their "prices are already below market" -- so, there's that!

Ye Olde King's Head

Ye Olde King's Head

Santa Monica

Seriously British pub near the beach
This stalwart British pub a quid’s throw from the beach is a labyrinth of wood-heavy dining rooms with royal portrait-lined walls, a beer-heavy bar, dart boards, TVs galore, and a bakery and gift shop touting British specialties. In other words, it's like a giant British museum. There'll be all the shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and fish and chips you'd expect, but YOKH will be showing the World Cup games starting at 8am, so you’ll want to take advantage of the traditional British breakfast plates complete with English baked beans.
Specials: TBD

Big Wangs

Downtown and North Hollywood

Dual sports bars known for their wings and plentiful flat-screen TVs
This duo of sports bars will be open for all the games (even the 6am starts) and offering a bacon-egg-cheddar-and-avocado-stuffed World Cup Breakfast Burrito with a side of tater tots for $12 -- because you’re going to need some sustenance to properly cheer on your team at that hour. If you plan to stay for the back-to-back games, you’ll want to move on to the fabled wings next. Wangs’ sibling venues -- The Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village and Elbow Room in Hollywood -- will follow suit, opening early in time for all the games and serving up the same brekkie special.
Specials: World Cup Breakfast Burrito for $12

Highland Park Bowl

Highland Park Bowl

Highland Park

Retro bowling alley on the Eastside
LA’s oldest bowling alley (which actually dates back to prohibition) is looking good thanks to its refurbished retro look, a trio of bars, and a big, beautiful 1930s mural, as well as solid pizza and cocktail offerings. For the quarterfinals, semifinals, third-place playoffs, and the final game, HPB will open early to screen the games on the 15-foot projector over the bowling lanes, with sound -- so you can watch one sport while playing another.
Specials: Happy hour and food specials for the final-round games, and prize raffles during the final game.

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Downtown

Mexican-American museum hosting free viewing parties
The museum and cultural center will be the site of three big (and free) viewing parties with live entertainment, activities for the kids, a photo booth, and -- since it’s sponsored by McDonald's -- a free breakfast courtesy of the fast-food behemoth. Doors open at 7am on Sunday, June 17 (for the Mexico vs. Germany and Brazil vs Switzerland matches); Saturday, June 23 (Mexico vs. Korea and Germany vs. Sweden) and Sunday, July 15 (finals). If you plan to go, register here.
Specials: Free breakfast for all attendees 

Hangar Inn

The Hangar Inn

Manhattan Beach

Old-time Packers bar with an airplane sticking out of the roof
This 60-plus-year-old Packers bar on Aviation Boulevard draws a raucous crowd of jersey-wearing fans come American football season and gets an equally enthusiastic influx of screaming soccer-loving patrons during World Cup days. The plan is to start showing all the games on Hangar's 17 TVs starting at the usual 7am opening time, but the place may decide, as it gets closer, to open the doors at 5am for some games; call ahead to find out which ones.
Specials: Pints of Dos Equis, Dos Equis Lager, Heineken, and New Castle for $5; $2 off pitchers; and buckets of Coors, Coors Light, Miller, or Miller Lite for $16 

Wirtshaus

Fairfax

German restaurant with outdoor beer garden
If you’ve got a soccer-loving pup you don’t want to leave at home, this German eatery is your go-to thanks to its dog-friendly, flat-screen-adorned outdoor beer garden; expect a 120-inch projection screen in the “soccer room,” in addition to more TVs in main part of the venue. The place will be offering food and drinks specials during all of the matches it airs, in addition to special morning breakfast and brunch menus, sponsored giveaways, and post-game deals. Wirsthaus will be opening early for all of the Germany and Mexico matches, including those on June 17th (at 8am), 23rd (at 8am), and 27th (at 7am).
Specials: A World Cup food menu including potato pancakes, pretzels, sausages, and schnitzel; half-off Erdinger beers for those who stick around after the game.

The Stalking Horse

The Stalking Horse Brewery & Freehouse

West LA

Brewery and British pub with vegan offerings
Artisanal Brewers Collective’s stylish new British pub boasts both an onsite brewery (which will start brewing its own beer in the coming months) and an adept kitchen, churning out Cornish classics like Yorkshire pudding and fish and chips, as well as vegan-friendly options like a plant-based Welsh rarebit and Impossible burger. World Cup games will be screened on TVs in the bar and on the patio and via projector in the dining room, opening at 7am on weekends and 11 during the week. Pro tip: You can book seats in advance on The Stalking Horse's website.  
Specials: $4 drafts during games and multiple $4, $6, and $8 “breakfast of champions” offerings available at 7am on weekends.

Cafe Brasil

Culver City

Cozy Brazilian eatery with wine and beer
This colorful Brazilian cafe with a lush patio doesn't have a proper bar (though beer and wine is available) and offers just two TVs, but it’s a top spot for those cheering on the South American soccer team who want to be amongst fellow fans and take advantage of a good and cheap breakfast menu with specialties like fried plantains and acai bowls. Later in the day, look for fish specials, pastas, black beans and rice and empanadas. Stay tuned for early opening hours, as the place will most likely get going in time for early AM Brazil games and lots of impressively long goooooooooaaaaaaaaal-yelling.
Specials: TBD

Sharks Cove

Sharks Cove

Manhattan Beach

South Bay sports bar packed to the gills with TVs
This South Bay sports bar is reminiscent of a TV network control room thanks to its rows and rows of flat-screens -- 50 in fact, all of which make for some great game viewing. There’s an attached street-facing patio if you want to get some fresh air or some natural light after gazing at screens in a dark bar all morning, and there’s also a basic breakfast menu in addition to the usual bar fare. Sharks Cove will open at 5:30am for the Brazilian games and 7am for every other game, and the kitchen will start serving food at 8am.
Specials: Buckets of Bud Light or Coors Light for $16.75; buckets of Corona for $19.25; $5 Jager shots or Jager bombs; $4 Fireball shots; 22-ounce domestic drafts for $5.50; 22-ounce Modelo, Corona, or Pacifico for $6; $5.50 Estrella Micheladas; 22-ounce double shot Bloody Marys for $9.50; and free bottomless champagne or Mimosas with purchase of breakfast on weekends.

The Fox and Hounds

The Fox and Hounds

Studio City

British pub popular among international sports fans
This Ventura Boulevard pub is known for doling out plenty of British breakfasts and beer to fans who come in to watch international sports, so we’re expecting the World Cup scene to be pretty tremendous. You'll be able to watch all the live tournament games on its two projector screens, as well as the 10 TVs scattered throughout the bar. The venue will be opening early to show every World Cup match, but certain games will require tickets. Check the schedule here.
Specials: TBD

The Cat and Fiddle

The Cat & Fiddle

Hollywood

British rock-inspired restaurant and pub
The resurrected Hollywood pub may not have that same signature sprawling patio at its new location, but you’re here to watch soccer anyway (and there is, indeed, some outdoor space at this venue). Expect British fare to the tune of Scotch eggs, shepherd’s pie, and curried chicken, along with lots of draft beer offerings and fun cocktails like the Picadilly Pimm’s. The venue will be opening early for several of the matches; check their schedule here.
Specials: Pint of Stella and a Savory Pie or a pint of Stella and Cat and Fiddle Burger for $15

Double Take

Westwood

Westside hotel lounge with game room
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar’s onsite restaurant, bar and lounge -- inspired by the look of a Hollywood backlot -- comes complete with a clubby game room filled with Skee-Ball, pool, shuffleboard, darts, video games, and some newfangled 4K Ultra HD TVs ready to show you tons of World Cup action. The venue will be airing all World Cup games beginning at 6:30am daily.
Specials: $1 beer specials, $1 surprise beers during the games, and every patron gets a voucher for a $1 beer of their choice when a goal is scored
 

Matthew Hamilton | Unsplash
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