You've Been Waiting Your Whole Life to Face San Diego's The Kraken Burger
This NYC-imported cocktail bar features both award-winning mixologists and a where-the-hell-is-it entrance, but what makes it special is the fact that it's one of the only places in town where you can get an old-fashioned Flattop and an Old Fashioned on the same visit.
How to get in: Go through the back door of the barbershop. Maybe get your haircut first though?
Even if there weren't a hidden entrance, this bar's facade -- at Vermont and Third -- is so indistinct, you'd think it was a whatever dive, rather than a classy cocktail bar. Add to that an Alice in Wonderland puzzle to get in, and you've hit K-town's best-or-second-best (see below) secret bar.
How to get in: Go through the front door... and then figure out which doorknob to turn to ACTUALLY get in.
You'd think the whole there's-no-name-and-it's-in-a-back-alley thing would have gotten old the minute Heather Graham did, but nope: Seventy7 Lounge continues the Swingers thing with stiff drinks, burlesque shows, and an entrance that's so money, it doesn't even know it.
How to get in: Find the cocktail sign in the alley -- there's a bouncer behind that door.
You may have already guessed that the name of this kinda Latin-themed lounge in the Valley doesn't have any signage, just, uh, red doorage; what's not totally clear is that in addition to delicious drinks, they also have an excellent food menu.
How to get in: Go to Robano's Pizza. Walk down the alley. Find the red door.
Because one great whiskey bar wasn't enough, Seven Grand now houses a second great whiskey bar -- albeit one that's super-tiny, super-secret, has a whiskey-locker program for your personal stash, and only serves three mixed drinks.
How to get in: There's a phone, and a light, with instructions in English... and Japanese.
The oontzery the Supper Club shares a wall (...and a hidden door) with this industry-hang cocktail lounge from super-awesome bartender Daniel Nelson and his crew, with vintage couches and mirrors and lots and lots of very dark corners. To drink in.
How to get in: Go behind Musso & Frank, and find the very huge and intimidating dude with the list. Be on it -- or be convincing.
In some ways, the grandfather of the secret-LA-bar, La Descarga is the Houston Brothers' ode to Havana in the 1950s, with rum drinks, a cigar smoking patio, and floorshows from live jazz bands with very, very live dancers.
How to get in: It helps to have a reservation -- so make one, and then the doorman will show you into an office, where you'll be told the rules, and shown the... closet?
This kinda-cramped-in-a-good-way speakeasy's in the back of one of LA's longest-running restaurants, and feels like a step back in time, thanks to wooden seats, stiff drinks, and music -- like Sinful Sundays, their end-of-the-weekend ode to dirty songs from the '20s.
How to get in: First, get a sandwich (and a Moscow Mule, if it's gonna be that kind of night) at Cole's, then continue to the door in the back, and turn the knob. Come early -- seats are first come, first served.
This divey K-town bar is marked only with an "R" on the outside, but inside are great bands or karaoke and a good hang -- if you know the password.
How to get in: KNOW THE PASSWORD (which you can find on Facebook and Twitter).
This's another Houston Brothers bar (told you they were the kings) with a similarly single-minded theme: the building used to be a brothel and a hotel, so you're transplanted into both, with almost Disney-style attention to detail -- and a death-defying, high-stepping show every hour on weekends.
How to get in: Get past the doorman, who'll show you to your room... and its bed.
This bar from the kings of the secret entrance (the Houston Brothers, it's the Houston Brothers), is a jaw-dropping, kind of hipster-y ode to the '70s, with DJs playing Fleetwood Mac, vintage beer cans, and hot chicks rollerblading.
How to get in: There's a garage, with one door. And it's the refrigerator.