You know that feeling when you're at a bar, you're not quite yourself because you're hungry, and there are no Snickers in sight? Or who knows, maybe there are Snickers around... but either way, it shouldn't matter, because you're smart and you're going to eat some delicious bar snacks instead. Here are some of LA's finest, across numerous critical categories:
The best bar snacking in LA
Best Ridiculously Oversized Item: Bavarian Pretzel
The Red Lion, Silverlake
This Eastside institution serves up all sorts of German-themed food, but none'll satisfy you as quickly as this carb-monster, which is at least as big as your head, is so fresh it hurts to touch, and comes with a mayo-mustard hybrid that goes great with a Spaten (or, really, anything).
Best Sliders: Goal Sliders
This longstanding sports bar's recently upped their grub game, with a former private celeb chef (who's rumored to have cooked for one of the world's most famous Scientologists) now indoctrinating patrons with deliciousness like these extra-moist mini-(but not TOO mini) patties on perfectly sweet Hawaiian rolls. Aloha.
Best Worthwhile Non-Meat Item: The Fried Brussels
Freddy Smalls, West LA
This cocktail bar's fried brussel sprouts're sweet (thanks to apple cider), savory (thanks to some goat cheese), and crispy (thanks to oil). Thanks to all, equally.
Best Freebies: Hot Dogs
So you're drinking, and you're like, "This popcorn isn't filling me up, but I've only got a fiver in my pocket, and I can either use that for another beer or a hot dog, and, duh, I'm drinking", and then you're like, "Wait, there's a bar that has FREE HOT DOGS," and then you're like, "Yes, it's called the Whitehorse, and I'm already here, and it is magical". You have a very active inner monologue.
Best Surprise-Use Of Buffalo Sauce: Buffalo Cauliflower
Mohawk Bend, Echo Park
This barstaurant's got a sick beer list and a vegan-friendly menu that some carnivores may find a bit off-putting (they do have an actual beef burger, so, no real worries there), but the magic's in the Buffalo Cauliflower -- soaked in Buffalo sauce, fried, and served with a side of bleu cheese. Sounds weird, sure. Tastes amazing.
Best Schmancy Snack: Beef Tartare
Sidebar at Cut, Beverly Hills
Sure, you can't schlubbily walk in off the street and order it without getting dirty looks, but the beef tartare at Wolfgang Puck's BH steakhouse is quite possibly the best in town -- made with prime sirloin, served with grilled bread, and totally delicious. Bonus -- you're eating raw steak, son!
Best Popcorn: Furikake Kettle Corn
A-Frame, Culver City
"As addicting as crack". That's the way most people who have never tried crack describe the Furikake Kettle Corn at Roy Choi's Culver City gastro-bistro (which, sure, is also a great restaurant, but you can definitely just pop in for a drink). Why's it so good? Well, it's got seaweed. And red pepper flakes. And goddamn corn pops. And kettle corn. And bacon. That's why.
Best Overall Bar Snack Menu: Beer Belly
Beer Belly, Koreatown
This you'd-never-see-it-if-you-weren't-looking-for-it craft beer bar's at the back of a parking lot, but their kitchen doles out consistently stellar (and consistently spicy) artery-cloggers like duck fat fries, Fontina & cracked pepper mac and cheese, and the killer Jidori wings that also made our best wings in LA list.
1. A-Frame12565 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Red Lion Tavern2366 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles
3. Goal8334 3rd St, Los Angeles
4. Freddy Smalls11520 Pico, Los Angeles
5. Whitehorse Inn Cocktail Bar1532 N Western Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Mohawk Bend2141 W Sunset, Los Angeles
7. CUT9500 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills
8. Beer Belly532 S Western; Koreatown, Los Angeles
This Hawaiian Culver City eatery from the Roy Choi is an Asian-fusion collaboration in a totally refurbished IHOP, hopped up with a picnic-type patio and light wood-clad walls. Food's meant to be utensil-optional, with inventive dishes like green curry and a poké sampler including choices like tuna with gochujang sauce, sesame leaves & oil, cabbage, seaweed, and nori, as well as tuna with kukui nut chili pesto and Parmesan.
Open since 1959 in Silver Lake, the Red Lion Tavern has seen the neighborhood transform into the hipster locale it is today. The German-themed bar will make you feel like you're in the middle of Berlin, thanks to a rotating selection of German beer, a schnitzel- and bratwurst-heavy food menu, and the kitschy, flag-laden beer garden. The rooftop is one of the least pretentious ones in Los Angeles, even if it isn't that high off the ground.
From the quality duo of Kitchen 24 and BoHo's designer, and the dude behind Villa, Goal's a wood-toned sports tavern w/ a massive, arrow-shaped bar, vintage game photos on the wall, and 13 viewable-from-anywhere-in-the-room flatscreens, or just enough to make sure your team's on the one that's unlucky.
Not just the name of Biggie's brother who owned a panini place, Freddy's also a marble-floored West LA gastropub from the dude behind The Counter, featuring drankin' (nine microbrews, specialty cocktails like the rye/ sarsaparilla/ candied ginger/ lemon garnish "Stumbling Cowboy"), and eatin' courtesy of NY's Charlie Palmer and NorCal's Jeremy Fox. Those guys are cooking up flash-grilled steak tartare, Buffalo deviled eggs w/ crispy chicken skin, and the both dark- and white-meat "New School Chicken Parm", which has no idea what it's going to do with its degree in Social Engineering.
At the Whitehorse Inn, snacks and hot dogs are complimentary with your drinks, so just keep ordering and the drinks and the snacks will flow. How do ya like that??
From the guys behind Tony's Darts Away, Mohawk Bend is a "craft everything" brewpub in Echo Park. The space is divided into five areas: a cozy dining cathedral (complete with fireplace), a pub room with a communal concrete table; two separate bars; and a covered patio. Drink options include more than 60 beers and a few wines (all from California) on tap, plus a cocktail program boasting 100 spirits from the Golden State. Menus change seasonally here but the selection of upscale, wood-fired pizzas like the Pig Newton topped with Serrano ham, goat cheese, fig, and rosemary tapenade are always guaranteed to stave off a rumbling stomach.
Wolfgang Puck's high-end Beverly Hills steakhouse is part of a mini chain that fancy pants around the world (there are locations in Dubai and Singapore) swear by. The pricey cuts are worth every penny, and the cocktails, appetizers, desserts, and general ambience will have you swooning by the end of the night.
Hidden in the back of a K-Town parking lot is this graffiti-covered beer bar-slash-restaurant. Beer Belly's self-described speciality is craft beer and crafty food, and the menu lives up to its eclectic promise. The excellent selection of local craft beers changes daily, and the food is bar bites-meets-county fair -- think double bacon mac & cheese, pork cheek chili cheese fries, and deep-fried Oreos. The Jidori hot wings are a power-packed delight if you're in the market for some of LA's best chicken wings (who isn't?). As for seating, there are plenty of tables inside but the outdoor beer garden is where it's at.