Food & Drink

The Best Dive Bars in Los Angeles

Jeff Miller Published On 01/27/2016 Published On 01/27/2016

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.

Flickr/duncan c

Chez Jay

Santa Monica

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.

Tattle Tale Room

Culver City

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.

Smog Cutter

Hollywood

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.

Flickr/Sam Howzit

Tiki-Ti

Silverlake

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.

Harbor Room

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.

HMS Bounty

Koreatown

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.

Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Cozy Inn

Culver City

Come for the shuffleboard. Stay for... the shuffleboard.

Kibitz Room at Canter's

Mid-Wilshire

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 Bar

Silverlake

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.

Joe Jost's

Long Beach

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.

Flickr/Jessey White-Cinis

Hinano Cafe

Venice

OH MY GOD THAT BURGER AT 1:30AM.

Jumbo’s Clown Room

Thai Town

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.

Frolic Room

Hollywood

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.

Foxfire Room

Valley Village

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.

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If you’re reading this after midnight, Jeff Miller’s probably at Jumbo’s. Find out on Instagram at @jeffmillerla or Twitter at @thrillistla.

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1. Chez Jay 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Chez Jay is a great lounge/steakhouse/place to get some deliciously salty peanuts with a strong libation.

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2. Tattle Tale Room 5401 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230 (Culver City)

Tattle Tale Room is your quintessential karaoke/dive bar, with awesome libations and great company.

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3. Smog Cutter 864 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (Hollywood)

Smog Cutter is a Hollywood dive/karaoke bar that's got awesome music, lively bartenders, and an even-livelier crowd.

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4. Tiki-Ti 4427 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

Tiki-Ti is a great dive/cocktail bar doling out island-inspired libations and eats.

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5. The Harbor Room 195 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293 (Marina Del Rey)

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.

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6. The HMS Bounty 3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

This may come as a surprise, but the HMS Bounty is a nautically themed British-style pub (go figure). Pull a stool up next to a local and have a chat on a weekday or join a busier crowd on the weekend. Either way, this dimly-lit hole in the wall in Koreatown is a hidden gem for a laid-back night and an inexpensive drink.

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7. Cozy Inn 11155 Washington Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90232 (Culver City)

Yo: full-size shuffleboard. Also: pool. Also: darts. Also: full-size shuffleboard.

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8. Kibitz Room 410 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (West La)

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.

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9. Jay's Bar 4321 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (Silverlake)

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.

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10. Joe Jost's 2803 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804 (Long Beach)

This mostly locals-only LBC hotspot is doling out cheap brews and even cheaper pickled eggs and roasted nuts to snack on.

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11. Hinano Cafe 15 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292 (Venice)

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.

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12. Jumbo's Clown Room 5153 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

What better way to end your night than to hit up a strip club and throw whatever bills you have left in your wallet in the air?!

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13. Frolic Room 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028-5310 (Hollywood)

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.

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14. Foxfire Room 12516 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91607

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.

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