Food & Drink

The San Fernando Valley's 14 best bars

Published On 04/21/2014 Published On 04/21/2014

There are things you already know about the Valley: it's large, it's spread out, it's hot, there are a ton of small communities there, and also, it's... hot. What you may not know, though, is that it's also home to some of LA's best bars. 

Here's our guide to the best of the best in the Val -- and yeah, it leans East, but for some reason, there really aren't great bars in Woodland Hills. Or Calabasas. Or North Hills. Or…

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Tiki No (click here for address and info)
North Hollywood
Yeah, we get it. The only Tiki bar you drink at is Tiki Ti. Thing is, though, you always have to wait for a seat there, and they don't have giant scorpion bowls that they set on fire, or karaoke. And this place is only, like, a few miles from there.

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Skinny's Lounge (click here for address and info)
North Hollywood
This oddly shaped performance venue regularly hosts burlesque nights and up-and-coming indie-rock bands, plus they make fine (foyne?) cocktails, too.

Brian Miller

Neat (click here for address and info)
Glendale
When Aidan Demarest of Seven Grand decided to open a classy cocktail bar in Glendale, other mixologists thought he was nuts. Now, a couple years later, he has one of the most beloved bars in that part of town -- deservedly, since the dude knows his booze better than just about anyone, but especially those other mixologists.

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Sardo's (click here for address and info)
Burbank
Everyone knows Sardo's because of p**n star karaoke. And now, you know Sardo's for the same reason, too.

Paladino's

Paladino's (click here for address and info)
Reseda
Every time the Foo Fighters book a big tour, they play a surprise show at this notoriously dumpy metal bar buried deep in a strip mall on Reseda. If you don't think that sounds great, we'll just refer you to Dave Grohl.

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Oyster House (click here for address and info)
Studio City
This nautically themed dive has been here for 40 years. The clam chowder is insanely good, and the locals that are regulars? Oh, man. They. Are. Awesome.

Federal Bar

The Federal Bar (click here for address and info)
North Hollywood
This two-story bar in an old bank vault has managed to become a Valley hang for everyone. They've got brunch with live bands on weekends, DJ nights during the week, and occasional burlesque, comedy, and jazz. And -- oh yeah -- a great beer selection.

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Star Garden (click here for address and info)
North Hollywood
It wouldn't be quite right to do a best-bars-in-the-Valley list without including at least one strip club. Our nominee's Star Garden, mostly because it has some character, and you can legally drink there -- and that's not a combination you can always get together.

Boneyard Bistro

Boneyard Bistro (click here for address and info)
Sherman Oaks
This BBQ spot made our list of the best restaurants on Ventura, but don't discount their bar scene -- it's a great drink-hang too, with an ever-changing beer list including local and pale flights, a killer bourbon list, and cocktails like the habanero-infused "Sympathy for the Devil".

Jen Jones

Tony's Darts Away (click here for address and info)
Burbank
We already know what you're gonna say. "Thrillist ALLLLLWAYS talks about Tony's, and we're SICK OF IT". Know why? Because Tony's rules, that's why. Amazing sausages, great beers, and a super-nice staff mean if you're bitching, you haven't been. Right?

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Firefly (click here for address and info)
Studio City
This lounge-y barstaurant infuses its own booze (jalapeño/pineapple tequila FTW!), and has a drink called "Let's Go Get Stoned", which is kind of all you need to know about how laid back it is.

Black Market

Black Market Liquor Bar (click here for address and info)
Studio City
A perennial favorite, thanks to amazing wings, ridiculously good drinks, and the kind of industry-but-not-in-the-horrible-way scene that'll make you say, "Not all of these girls can be PAs, can they????"

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The Good Nite (click here for address and info)
North Hollywood
The Valley's full of divey karaoke bars, but The Good Nite is one of the longest-running singing stations, and therefore, one of the most beloved -- probably due to a happy hour that runs from 9-10pm.

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Blue Dog Beer Tavern (click here for address and info)
Sherman Oaks
The best bar with the best burgers by the Galleria, which has the best movie theater, which makes for a pretty great night all-around.

Jeff Miller grew up in Van Nuys, Encino, and North Hollywood, and misses Cozy's, Stevies, and anywhere that didn't card him in high school. He's at @thrillistla on Twitter and @jeffmillerla on the Instagramz.

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1. Tiki No 4657 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602 (Hollywood)

This North Hollywood spot certainly has the tiki theme down, with colorful (and tasty) cocktails, bamboo & straw decorations, and a friendly and festive atmosphere with live music.

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2. The Federal Bar 5303 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606

Located in the massive space previously occupied by the club The Bank Heist, TFB rose from the ashes like a glossy, two-story gastropub/phoenix, with the ground floor serving as a full-service resto.

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3. Boneyard Bistro 13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Located in Sherman Oaks, this place is a triple threat after establishing its identity as a BBQ joint, beer garden, and gastropub. You haven't lived until you tried the slow-cooked hickory-smoked pork baby back ribs. Or, equally, the mega platter.

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4. Black Market Liquor Bar 11915 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604 (East Valley)

Black Market's a mid-sized Studio City gastrobistro that's merged the talents of a Top Chef All-Star, the dude from Harvard & Stone, and the former GM at Bardot, with a moody interior that looks like a bar Van Helsing might pre-game at before taking on the Count, featuring intricately paneled windows, a multi-tiered mirrored bar, and a half-dome exposed brick ceiling.

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5. Firefly Studio City 11720 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

This laid-back, Studio City bar is most famous for stirring up its very own infused alcohols (think jalapeño-pineapple tequila, apple-vanilla-cinnamon bourbon), which the bartenders happily use to concoct custom cocktails. Dinner eats include gussied up American classics, like free-range chicken with bacon and honey dates.

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6. Tony's Darts Away 710 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506 (East Valley)

Because sometimes it’s Friday night, and all you really want is to go somewhere with a to-die-for sausage menu and a beer list that runs deep. If that weren’t enough, Tony’s also serves up some of the best vegan options of any of the restaurants on this list -- including (but not limited to) Becky’s Bad Ass Buffalo Potatoes. Do yourself a favor and order those.

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7. Oyster House Saloon 12466 Moorpark Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

Oyster House is a great dive filled with locals, friendly service, and cheap drinks. The best part? When you get hungry, you don't even have to leave to seek a food fix -- they've got tons of fresh, delicious seafood for you to devour on the spot.

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8. Paladino's 6101 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335

Paladino's is a sweaty, tattooed, rock 'n' roll dive that makes for a great place to let loose and have a few drinks. A bunch of pool tables, great music, and strong, cheap drinks mean it's a sure bet.

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9. Sardo's 259 N Pass Ave, Burbank, CA 91505

This Burbank grill and lounge is the perfect spot to sport your pipes and belt out a tune for a spirited night of karaoke. They feature more than 20,000 songs ranging across many different genres, not to mention cheap drinks and free parking.

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10. Neat 1114 Pacific Ave, Glendale, CA 91202 (Glendale)

One of the perks of success is that others start doing work for you, with the other being talking to Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins about his nickname & surprisingly successful pro career. Weirdly opting for the former route, the super-successful barman behind Neat.

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11. The Good Nite 10721 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (Hollywood)

Toss back the minimum of two drinks before climbing up on stage of this hole-in-the-wall karaoke bar. No cover means you can put those extra dollars towards one of their "beers of the month" or throw it to the good Samaritan who decided to take a spin on the stripper pole for the night.

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12. Blue Dog Beer Tavern 4524 Saugus Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (Mid Valley)

Located just off the 405 in what used to be a dental office (which now looks like a mid-construction Victorian home thanks to wood lattices, antique light fixtures and decor, and a bar and walls made from the original 1940s floors), the Blue Dog Beer Tavern's got a vibe that's part local dive, part sports bar, part vintage flea market. Craft beer is thing place's specialty, and at any given moment they're sure to have more than 60 drafts from LA breweries that'll wash down a house-ground burger with ease. The spacious and surprisingly modern back patio offers some breathing space when the tables inside get cramped at rush hour.

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13. Star Garden 6630 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606

North Hollywood's eccentric Star Garden is an adult entertainment joint where the scantily clad women are voluptuous, and the drinks are strong.

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14. Skinny's 4923 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601 (East Valley)

"Great bar" and "in The Valley" don't usually share the same sentence without their cynical buddy "not". The guys behind The Room are aiming to change that with their '50s-lounge-themed spot.

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