The 9 Best Dive Bars in Los Angeles
Your old haunts are back.
If your quarantine was anything like ours, your dreams were filled with LA bars. And if you’re even more like us, among all the clubs and crowded party scenes were visions of worn leather booths, irresponsible pours, and domestic beer bottles. With LA well on its way to fully reopening (the countdown is nearly complete!), you can finally make those quaran-dreams a reality by pulling up a wobbly bar stool at your favorite local watering hole. But with so many great dives, which ones are worth your time? We’ve got your back: you’ll find our all-time favorite LA dives below.
Ye Rustic Inn
There’s no mark of a great dive bar that Rustic doesn’t hit. Dim lighting and red leather booths: check. Stiff pours so cheap that you need to order two in order to meet the credit card minimum: bingo. Walking distance from a number of much pricier, much trendier spots: of course. Sometimes Jon Hamm is there: not really the mark of a great dive bar, but it seems worth mentioning. Yet above all else, you’re at The Inn for the wings. Spicy, tangy, and fried to a perfect crisp, Rustic’s wings are an easy contender for the best buffalo wings in LA, and a rare instance when we'd advise eating dive bar food.
The HMS Bounty
This nautically-themed Koreatown dive has been an institution for decades. The place doubles as a steakhouse—because why wouldn’t it?—and in our book, nothing goes better with impossibly cheap, impossibly strong, well drinks than a nice big steak. Pair all that with the CD-based jukebox, settle into a booth, and have a fantastic night out.
There are a lot of dives that tout a significant amount of LA history, but the Kibitz Room is right up there with the best of them. Countless LA musicians—including nobodies like Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers—got their start here, so throw back some drinks and enjoy the music. You never know who might be on their way to the top of the charts.
Though Atwater’s best bar lost its signature free popcorn, they’ve replaced it with a full Thai food menu, and we’re thrilled about it. Though it’s by no means the most traditional fare, there’s something beautiful about throwing down on some Pad See Ew with your friends after a round of The Roost’s always-too-strong drinks.
Scarlet Lady Saloon
The Scarlet Lady tempts you with many of the standard trappings of a genuine dive bar: cheap and strong drinks, colorful clientele, unpolished karaoke, and well-worn pool tables. In the Before Times, homemade bar food like chili hot dogs, nachos, and breakfast burritos made regular appearances for free… we’re hoping that shows up again soon.
You might be at The Castle to watch sports on the screens behind the bar, but the real move is to head for the ping pong table in the back. Just don’t ignore the bar completely—there’s a bit of a Coyote Ugly-vibe up there, and it’s not to be missed.
Just because their infamous lineup of live music is currently on hold for obvious reasons, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some daytime G&Ts and have just as good of a time. They’ve vowed to bring live music back as soon as it’s safe, so keep your eyes peeled on their social media.
Though their bounty of bar games may be the reason you show up to Cozy Inn, you’ll find plenty more reasons to stay. Be it the constant holiday specials, large selection of bar games, jukebox, or good-hearted staff, Cozy Inn is a knockout Culver City dive that shouldn’t be ignored.
Roadhouse Bar & Grill
Thanks to a 6 am opening time, Roadhouse is an undefeated Torrance staple for an early (read: boozy) start to the day. Grab a breakfast burrito or some banana nut pancakes and a Bloody Mary, and post up. Unfortunately, no Swayze here, though.