Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
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1. The Mint6010 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Alhambra Cocktail Lounge216 W 11th St, San Pedro
3. Tom Bergin's840 S Fairfax, Los Angeles
4. Frolic Room6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
5. Formosa Cafe7156 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
6. Harvelle's Blues Club1432 4th St, Santa Monica
7. Ercoles 11011101 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach
8. Townhouse52 Windward Ave, Venice
9. Cole's118 E 6th St, Los Angeles
10. The King Eddy Saloon131 E 5th St, Los Angeles
11. Golden Gopher417 W 8th St, Los Angeles
12. Big Dean's Ocean Front Cafe1615 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica
The Mint is a lively, acoustically gifted venue that also doubles as a comedian club.
No one remembers much about the origins of one of the diviest dives in the South Bay (especially not the dudes at the bar downing a bucket of King Cobra and $3 cinnamon whiskey shots), though we do know that from 1905 to 1908 the building housed the San Pedro City Hall, and the former jail cells are rumored to still exist just below the jukebox. With buckets of King Cobra and $3 Fireball shots making regular appearances at this historic San Pedro dive-of-dives, there’s a lot that can go wrong. But, there’s also a lot that can go right.
Tom Bergin's is one of the city's most beloved bars, and perhaps the most legit Irish Pub on the planet (outside of Ireland, of course) what with being the inventors of the Irish Coffee. Head here for a classy, relaxing, and authentic Irish experience.
Rumored to be an uber-exclusive speakeasy lounge opened by a dude allegedly named “Freddy Frolic”, this dive bar officially opened to the public in ’34. A Charles Bukowski favorite and possibly the last stop for the ill-fated Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia), the art deco neon and vested bartenders continue to welcome fans of small dark dives, cheap pours, and strange murals that feature caricatured celebrities.
Formosa Chinese is a great joint serving up delicious mac and cheese, chicken, and the like.
The oldest live music venue on the Westside, Harvelle’s still plays host to nightly shows of blues, jazz, and burlesque because, let’s face it, acrobatic lingerie-clad dancers never go out of style.
One of the few classic dives that hasn’t received a shiny new coat, Ercoles maintains its Cheers-vibe, welcoming regulars with a glance-up-from-my-PBR hello, while you settle into well-worn booths and stools. You'll need a stack of napkins to sop up the juice from this dive bar’s phenomenal burger. Expect a high-quality beef patty from Manhattan Meats next door, which comes loaded with toppings and tucked inside a small bun for a sloppy and satisfying experience.
The Townhouse, established in 1915, is the oldest bar in Venice, has an awesome selection of whiskeys and is a great space for live music.
Constantly locked in battle with Philippe for the enviable "oldest French dip in LA" crown, Cole’s P.E. Buffet first opened its doors to thirsty commuters arriving on Red Car trolleys to the Pacific Electric terminal beginning in 1908. The bar endured the dry years with 3¢ bitters and 10¢ "near beers", but really made bank with the city’s first check-cashing service conveniently located within the bar. The Cedd Moses revamp added the speakeasy-style back bar, The Varnish, and a few modern touches (no more sawdust-covered floors! New pickled eggs!), but hung onto the original, massive front mahogany bar, Tiffany lampshades, and old oak tables made from old railway cars.
The surly old geezer of LA bars, this Skid Row-adjacent stalwart first opened as the tavern for the still-operating King Edward Hotel and managed to get a court order to keep pesky street preachers of the day from scaring off would-be boozehounds. Since officially reopening in ’33, The King Eddy Saloon has famously poured heavy for Bukowski, Burroughs, and other literary liquor lovers, and remains a solid cavernous dive for losing a few hours.
The Golden Gopher, a DTLA dive with a rare, dual-liquor license grandfathered from 1905 (yes, it survived Prohibition by selling "near beer" and "medicinal" bitters), was originally dubbed Golden Sun Saloon and owned by none other than former President Teddy Roosevelt. Nearly a century later, in 2004, it became the Golden Gopher, but its character and history still live within its dark, exposed brick walls. The Bar Keeper -- from the same team that runs the Silver Lake location -- operates the liquor shop side of the Gopher, where you can on-site purchase liquor to go. But stay a while, and enjoy a pint of beer in one of few LA bars that have stood the test of 100 years' time.
Originally opened as Laring’s Lunch Room (six years before the SM pier was built!), this open air beachside bungalow has lured in many famous boozers through the decades. From the original 1913 icebox (converted into a walk-in cooler), to the 1950s shipping crates that line the walls, Big Dean’s maintains well-worn vintage charm while still serving up plenty of 32oz beers and packing the back patio on the weekends.