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If the sheer size of this place doesn’t qualify it as one of the best birthday spots, all of the games make it so. Between Skee-Ball, ping-pong, darts, corn hole, and Jenga, you’ll be able to get irritatingly competitive against your friends. And if you’ve got some gluten-free people in your crew, tell ‘em to cool their jets because ADB has liquor, too.
Houston Hospitality’s Thai Town spot hasn’t gotten any less great over the years. The only thing better than the live music, burlesque dancers hanging off the ceiling, and always changing R&D Bar (with cocktail themes that have ranged from Knocked Up to Hey Arnold! to Zelda)? The DJs, who constantly ignore the Top 40 you get everywhere else, and hook it up with sexy Motown and funk beats all night long, and the bands, which range from Neil Young cover bands to some of the best indie-rockers in LA.
Speaking of HH joints that haven’t gotten any less great, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s is still rocking '70s flair at the living room-themed Hollywood bar. If you’re looking to make it a big day instead of a big night, Good Times is open in the afternoon on weekends for some killer food on its patio (which is also where you can grab those alcoholic sno-cones) -- which also means you don’t need to sweat the nighttime guest list.
If karaoke is the birthday you’re looking for, steer your crew to Blue Goose. It’s easy to miss, because the poorly lit sign just says “Cocktail Lounge,” but sneak around the side of the strip-mall to find the entrance. The comfy leather couches go quite nicely with the bar’s stiff pours, and for some reason this place never seems to fill up -- so it’s the perfect spot for you and your friends to completely dominate while you sing crooning versions of Alanis Morissette and David Bowie.
Melrose Umbrella Co. also seems to have gotten the hint that a lot of people are over the days of the Top 40 DJ, because they blast throwback jams that people want to hear (who could ever get sick of The Isley Brothers?). Plus, the drinks are great (Try a “Patterson’s Nap”, with bourbon, tangerine, lemon, and Campari) and the clientele tend to look like supermodels, which means when you strike out on your birthday, you’re striking out large.
The Griffin’s wide open center and dual bars are already the recipe for a great birthday, but if your big day happens to be on a Wednesday, you’ve got another excellent ingredient: the bar’s Wing Wednesdays, where you can snake a beer and five wings for $5. Oh, your birthday is on a Friday? Looks like you’ve got reason to celebrate twice now.
If you thought Downtown and Glendale-adjacent were the only places brewing special craft brews and fun stuff to do, you thought wrong. Since 2014, MacLeod has been pouring choice English-style ales in the middle of a warehouse in Van Nuys, complete with live music, food trucks, darts, and board games. A big group of friends looking to get their birthday beers on will feel right at home, especially since they have a “Buy Your Friend a Beer” board, and you can subtly/not-so-subtly suggest they rack up a couple hundred for you.
The heart-of-DTLA location alone makes it a top-notch spot to begin (or end) your special night. Add to that the fact that you don’t need a reservation and there’s lots of space and you have yourself a birthday that everybody’s gonna enjoy. Gather your group on the patio and get down on some tasty shared plates -- like the chicken & donuts with Tapatio whipped cream -- and a giant beer and spirits list (including the amazing, hard-to-find KIN white whiskey).
Tonga Hut has everything you want in a birthday, if everything you want includes over 70 different “grogs” (including some that are on fire). The North Hollywood spot has plenty of booths, as well as a jukebox, darts, and, of course, the opportunity to join The Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard... aka if you can drink every single one of the bar’s grogs in a year, you’ll get a special hand-carved plaque on the wall. A birthday is obviously the best time to start.
You’ll feel like you’ve been thrown straight into the French Quarter as soon as you step foot into The Little Easy, and if that means a ton of faux-pearl necklaces and “woooooing,” you’ll be all the better for it, even if there’s (generally) no flashing. The bar’s got tons of seating, tasty bar food, and crazy B movies playing on the TVs -- and a giant tank of self-serve water for whichever of your friends goes the hardest.
In a town so full of clubs, covers, and velvet ropes, it’s nice to be able to grab some booths with your friends, and, ya know, actually be able to hear them. That, combined with cheap & crazy strong drinks, Chinese & Thai food, and the bar’s infamous “Big TV” make The Roost hard to beat. Plus, you'll be able to hear your friends say thank you when they realize how good you were to their wallets this year.
Though the food at The Hermosillo is rock solid, the real treat is nestled inside courtesy of the expansive beer menu of Highland Park Brewery. It has draft beers as standard as IPAs and Hefs, as well as beers that are as experimental and tasty as a cilantro & ancho chile brew. Throw a shuffleboard table and the Ring/Hook game into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a helluva birthday.
Let’s be honest: Shatto 39 Lanes is the cheapest bar in town, and it’s got the added bonus of being in the same building as LA’s best bowling alley. What else do you need (besides arcade games, pool tables, and a snack bar, which they also have)? Birthday olympics, yo.
1. Arts District Brewing828 Traction Ave, Los Angeles
2. Harvard & Stone5221 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
3. Good Times at Davey Wayne's1611 N El Centro Ave, Hollywood
4. Blue Goose Lounge5201 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
5. Melrose Umbrella Company7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
6. The Griffin3000 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles
7. MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.14741 Calvert St, Van Nuys
8. Sixth St Tavern630 W 6th St, Ste 116, Los Angeles
9. Tonga Hut12808 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood
10. Little Easy216 W 5th St, Los Angeles
11. The Roost3100 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Highland Park Brewing5127 York Blvd, Los Angeles
13. Shatto 39 Lanes3255 W 4th St, Los Angeles
Located in LA’s historic Arts District, this brewery hosts a 15-barrel layout that’s capable of producing 3300 barrels each year. Its sprawling main room and outdoor patio are great for large events, and an entertainment area comes equipped with bar games, ping-pong, darts, and more. It's a brewery, it's an arcade -- it's a brewcade.
From the guys behind the Havana-themed hideaway La Descarga, Harvard & Stone is a meticulously designed craft cocktail bar in a cavernous, two-story, 1930s factory in Los Feliz. Dance the night away to a solid indie, Motown, and everything-in-between playlist while you sip on pop-culture themed libations (Knocked Up, Hey Arnold, and Zelda are three such cocktails).
Straight out of The Brady Bunch set, this 70's living room-themed Hollywood bar is decked out with hammocks, an Airstream Trailer, and a DJ spinning Bee Gees-esque beats. It's hard to tell what's cooler: the epic secret entrance through a refrigerator door or the no-cover. Weekend nights usually draw the biggest lines, but Good Times is open on weekend afternoons, aka the perfect time to kick back on the patio and order up some Tex-Mex street food and craft cocktails.
This karaoke lounge on Sunset in East Hollywood is a raucously fun hidden dive bar treasure. Cheap well drinks get the rowdy clientele even rowdier and ready to belt out Top 40 hits till way past dawn. The comfy leather couches go quite nicely with the bar’s stiff pours.
If you're looking for creative cocktails with a speakeasy vibe, then you've arrived at your destination: Melrose Umbrella Company. This buzzy, den-like cocktail bar in West Hollywood specializes in herbaceous iterations of old-school libations. During the day, it turns its focus to coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
Decked with arched brick ceilings, Gothic-style chandeliers, and red vinyl booths, The Griffin is like a medieval dungeon in Atwater Village. The cavernous lair is anchored by a stone platform with two fireplaces and a large bar, but it also features a spacious outdoor patio. The drinks are cheap, the menu full of burgers and beer, and the atmosphere low-key... unless you're a knight, in which case your coat of arms is not included.
The authentic, cask-only, British ales at this Van Nuys brewery are the product of a couple who spent years in the United Kingdom and wanted to bring the old-world ales to LA. In some ways, their beers are the opposite of many West Coast craft breweries, but that's what makes them special. Check their twitter (@MacLeodAle) to see which food trucks will be serving from the taproom that day.
Sixth St. Tavern is a chic gastropub in DTLA, whose zinc bar, white exposed brick walls, and butcher block tables set the tone for high-quality pub fare, craft beers (about two dozen of them rotate through the taps at all times), and classic cocktails. Known for its weekday happy hours, "Best Cheese Fries," and chicken and doughnuts (yes... together), Sixth St. Tavern is a dime a dozen in DTLA.
It's hard to think of tiki bars as a bygone fad when North Hollywood's Tonga Hut has been turning up the tiki since 1958. We're not talking just a plastic umbrella in your fruity drink or a few totem glasses (though you will see both): the cocktail bar looks like something between a retro knick-knack-littered living room and an Easter Island shipwreck. Just because the cocktails are kitsch doesn't mean they're an after-thought: the Hawaiian Eye mixes two rums with passion fruit puree, while the Coconaut Re-Entry is ignited with fire. This is the kind of corny that attracts patrons both young and old.
This casual gastropub inside downtown's Alexandria Hotel channels New Orleans' joie de vivre in its decor, Cajun-influenced menu, and anything goes vibe. The French Quarter-like space is split between a small bar in the front and a swankier parlor in the back with a fountain and porch swing. Absinthe-based cocktails, po' boy sliders, and fluffy beignets are the go-to food and drink move.
The Roost is a dimly lit dive in Atwater Village where the drinks are cheap, the pours are generous, and the menu is chock full of comfort food. Aside from typical bar food (burgers, onion rings, nachos), there's a small but spicy selection of Asian-inflected plates like Thai beef salad, gyoza, and chicken satay. Order a PBR tallboy and some Dragon Fried wontons, jam to whatever's playing on the jukebox, and watch the infamous "Big TV" reel through highlights from old movies. Just make sure you have a pocket full of bills, The Roost is cash only.
Located inside the Hermosillo bar, LA's Highland Park Brewing serves up highly flavorful small-batch brews that'll excite the inner beer geek in you. Offering a variety of ales, IPAs, porters, lagers, and wheat beers, you owe it to yourself to sample 'em all. A shuffleboard table and other bar games add to the fun.
Mystic bowling is the name of the game at Shatto 39 Lanes in Koreatown. This fun and affordable bowling alley doubles as a great nightlife spot with its reliable cocktail offerings and welcoming atmosphere. What else do you need (besides arcade games, pool tables, and a snack bar, which they also have)?