There’s no mark of a great dive bar that Rustic doesn’t hit. Dim lighting and red leather booths: check. Stiff pours so cheap that you need to order two in order to meet the credit card minimum: bingo. Walking distance from a number of much pricier, much trendier spots: of course. Sometimes Jon Hamm is there: not really the mark of a great dive bar, but it seems worth mentioning. Yet above all else, you’re at The Inn for the wings. Spicy, tangy, and fried to a perfect crisp, Rustic’s wings are an easy contender for the best buffalo wings in LA, and a rare instance when we'd advise eating dive bar food.
This nautically-themed Koreatown dive has been an institution for decades. The place doubles as a steakhouse—because why wouldn’t it?—and in our book, nothing goes better with impossibly cheap, impossibly strong, well drinks than a nice big steak. Pair all that with the CD-based jukebox, settle into a booth, and have a fantastic night out.
There are a lot of dives that tout a significant amount of LA history, but the Kibitz Room is right up there with the best of them. Countless LA musicians—including nobodies like Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers—got their start here, so throw back some drinks and enjoy the music. You never know who might be on their way to the top of the charts.
Though Atwater’s best bar lost its signature free popcorn, they’ve replaced it with a full Thai food menu, and we’re thrilled about it. Though it’s by no means the most traditional fare, there’s something beautiful about throwing down on some Pad See Ew with your friends after a round of The Roost’s always-too-strong drinks.
The Scarlet Lady tempts you with many of the standard trappings of a genuine dive bar: cheap and strong drinks, colorful clientele, unpolished karaoke, and well-worn pool tables. In the Before Times, homemade bar food like chili hot dogs, nachos, and breakfast burritos made regular appearances for free… we’re hoping that shows up again soon.
You might be at The Castle to watch sports on the screens behind the bar, but the real move is to head for the ping pong table in the back. Just don’t ignore the bar completely—there’s a bit of a Coyote Ugly-vibe up there, and it’s not to be missed.