Sure, sometimes you want a bartender to explain that his bitters are sourced from a rare Peruvian herb that he had to cross Madagascar through a blizzard to find. But other times, you just want a Jack-and-Coke from a bartender who could be your grandpa and has an exceptionally heavy hand. On those nights (or afternoons -- we’re not judging), LA’s best dive bars will be ready to welcome you with a strong pour.
Yes, nautical themes are a theme of this list, and that's because nautical themes lend themselves to dive bars. Oh and yes, those are peanut shells on the floor.
Yes, you can come here for sports, but you should come here for karaoke, especially if your favorite part of karaoke is yelling "you bitch, you slut, you whore" during "Delilah." And it should be.
OK, we're partial to karaoke. Sue us. This longtime Hollywood spot doesn't take credit cards, has amazingly & charmingly rude bartenders, and won't judge you for picking "Don't Stop Believin'"... again. In other words, it's heaven.
It made our very reputable list of the 33 Best Dive Bars In America, and deserved it: this legendary hut (it really is nothing more than a hut) on Sunset boasts one of the best sweet-drink lists in the US, though you've gotta fight to get any of 'em, as there's only enough seats for a dozen people.
Playa Del Rey
This generations-old shiphole is teeny-tiny -- like, it's literally the smallest bar in town -- which means it's you... and four grizzled sailors.
Kinda like Chez Jay, but in Koreatown... so if you live further East, you don't need to drive to Santa Monica for sweet nautical action.
Come for the shuffleboard. Stay for... the shuffleboard.
Long-notorious as the bar where Guns N' Roses played their first gigs, this deli-adjacent dive recently renovated... by moving the teeny-tiny stage across the floor. Period. Shout out to the Jheri curl dude in the gold pants who’s always here. You know the one.
Jay’s, located just across the stripmall from the now-closed Tang’s Donuts (which we’re still mourning) has killer, super-cheap burgers, and is newer than any of the other picks on this list -- that doesn’t mean, though, that it has less of the anything-can-happen, neighborhood appeal that makes every one of these a must-stop destination.
If you’re a drinker in Long Beach, and you haven’t washed down a cheap beer with Jost’s pickled eggs (or vice-versa), you’re doing something horribly, horribly wrong: it’s been a drinking-and-regret staple for more than 80 years.
OH MY GOD THAT BURGER AT 1:30AM.
Jumbo’s is a singular place: not quite a dive bar, not quite a strip club, and filled with a cast of acrobatic non-nude burlsequey dancers who choose their own songs (Vintage showtunes! Black Flag! The Pixies!) and do death-defying, ceiling-hitting pole-dancing stunts while you slurp down $5 rum-and-diets. Just make sure you tip the dancers and the bartenders.
Hollywood used to be home to some of LA’s best dives, but they’ve essentially all been priced out -- except for this incredibly dark hole-in-the-wall, where you can still find a routine cast of both savory-and-unsavory characters (The elderly woman in the ripped mink stole! The club girl crying in her little black dress! The dude in the suit who thought he was going to the W and is very confused!) mingling (and sometimes, ahem, leaving) together.
William H. Macy drank to excess at Foxfire in Magnolia, and the same things that drive his character there in the movie are what drive SFV residents to the bar at all times, all days: it’s a place where you’re never gonna be judged, it feels like you stepped into a time warp, and the drinks are always stiff. Bingo.
1. Chez Jay1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica
2. Tattle Tale Room5401 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City
3. Smog Cutter864 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles
4. Tiki-Ti4427 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
5. The Harbor Room195 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey
6. HMS Bounty3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
7. Cozy Inn11155 Washington Pl, Los Angeles
8. Kibitz Room410 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
9. Jay's Bar4321 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
10. Joe Jost's2803 E Anaheim St, Long Beach
11. Hinano Cafe15 Washington Blvd, Venice
12. Jumbo's Clown Room5153 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
13. Frolic Room6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
14. Foxfire Room12516 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood
Chez Jay is a great lounge/steakhouse/place to get some deliciously salty peanuts with a strong libation.
Tattle Tale Room is your quintessential karaoke/dive bar, with awesome libations and great company.
Smog Cutter is a Hollywood dive/karaoke bar that's got awesome music, lively bartenders, and an even-livelier crowd.
True to its name, Tiki-Ti churns out notoriously tasty (and dangerously sweet) island-inspired libations. As is the custom with all great tiki spots, drinks topped with fresh skewered pineapple, passion fruit juice, and various island rums are served in coconut shells and thematic tiki-faced jugs -- the bar tenders at this joint are big believers in the fact that no one should feel guilty about craving a sugary, pink, paper-umbrella-topped cocktail. The space itself is equally festive, displaying a museum-like array of Polynesian statues, masks, and keepsakes, almost as diverse and extensive as the drink menu itself. And along with the pop-artifact collection, the island charm aesthetic at this tropical drink haven is complete with a steady soundtrack of easy-listening, beat-heavy music.
THR is a great little dive with a jukebox -- which takes up a lot of the small joint's space -- this is apparently one of the smallest bars in LA.
Housed in the lobby of the historic Gaylord Hotel, HMS Bounty Food & Grog is a nautically themed, British-style watering hole on Wilshire. Since its inception in 1948, the space has been home to various concepts like The Gay Room, The Secret Harbor and The Golden Anchor. The current dive was born in 1962, and has been drawing crowds to its bustling bar and restaurant since. You're here for the cold beer, the popular Monte Christo (among other British staples), and yes, you recognize it from that one scene in Mad Men.
Yo: full-size shuffleboard. Also: pool. Also: darts. Also: full-size shuffleboard.
Opened in 1961 as a small venue for bands and musicians alike to jam, Kibitz's still offers music every night of the week... and cheap drinks.
Presumably owned by a dude who you're already on a first-name basis with, Jay's Bar is attempting to split the difference between dive and gastropub, with a no-frills, common-table-and-stool-and-TV interior, a dozen taps with everything from Deschutes to Nut Brown, plus eats like chili-lime dry-rubbed chicken wings and grilled bratwurst w/ sweet and sour red cabbage & crispy smashed potatoes.
This mostly locals-only LBC hotspot is doling out cheap brews and even cheaper pickled eggs and roasted nuts to snack on.
Open since 1969, Hinano Cafe was reportedly Jim Morrison's favorite bar in Venice. Claim to fame aside, the uber-casual, beachside mainstay has great beer and an even better burger, served on a sesame-studded egg bun with standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, mustard, and relish) and add-ons like cheddar, Swiss, chili, and bacon. The bar slightly resembles a tiki hut from the outside, but the interior is a typical dive scene with a pool table and TVs.
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.
The Foxfire Room is famous for being the spot where William H. Macy drank his body weight in "Magnolia", but they're not just some dive bar used in a movie. The drinks are stiff, the staff are friendly (and very non-judgemental) and the neighborhood vibe keeps its regulars coming back.