Sex & Dating

Comic Iliza Shlesinger's Guide to Surviving Valentine's Day in LA

Published On 02/09/2017 Published On 02/09/2017
iliza's guide to surviving valentine's day
Marteen Deboer
Flickr/Roy Randall

Ye Rustic Inn

It’s got plenty of room, the crowd is always there to party and there is food. If it gets too crowded, walk across the street to The Drawing Room for a change of scenery and comfy booths for kissing and feigning interest when your date starts to tell you about the script he’s working on. Uh huh, great, Caleb -- is it make-out time yet?

Jones Hollywood

Jones is my favorite bar in LA and I’ve had several birthday parties there. The people are always attractive, bartenders seem like they actually want you there, there’s a fun long couch you can sit on, the jukebox is good, and they have one of the most underrated full late-night menus in Los Angeles. No one has ever not had fun there. Ever. Except liars.

Thirsty Crow

Sunset Blvd (The street, the whole thing. There will be multiple stops on this journey.)

I’ve spent many a LA night starting at some Eastside bar, whether it be Short Stop, Thirsty Crow, or even Bar Stella and just crawling my way back West. Have a drink and walk to the next bar. You can get pretty psyched by the time you hit Tiki-Ti (GO TO TIKI-TI!!) and it’s always nice to walk off some of the alcohol. You can make it from Echo Park to about Sunset and Vermont and hit a decent number of themed bars before you need to call an Uber. And if you’re hungry? Thai Town is only a few blocks over and they’re open late night 7 days a week.


Guyless on V-Day? Go Downtown with a girlfriend (which, btw, sounds like the way Cosmo would describe lesbian sex).

I’m saying call your best friend, get dressed up (wear that fun hat you bought but have been insecure about wearing in public!), and go explore a part of LA you keep hearing is cool but never go to because it’s Downtown, and that’s far away, and you’re tired from living. You can dance on a light-up dance floor at Honeycut. You can let loose to a DJ at The Lash. The bars are endless (literally just Google “Downtown LA bars” and you’re good). There’s also Little Tokyo on the edge of Downtown if you want to eat conveyer belt sushi at Kula.

The Normandie Club

Speaking of Asian-inspired ideas... get drinks in K Town!

There are two ways to do this: down Soju in some hovel until you throw up on your shoes or try the classier route and go to The Normandie Club. It’s a beautiful bar, and if you call ahead and make a reservation at their speakeasy, The Walker Inn, you can spend your night in a tiny hidden bar drinking gorgeously crafted cocktails under a dim light. Who doesn’t want that? Then, when you’re hungry? Next door is Cassell’s hamburgers. After all that, if you can still waddle, wedge yourself into the king of dive bars, Frank N Hank. It’s never too crowded, the drinks cost what they would in North Dakota, and there’s a pool table, darts, and other trashy bar games.

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1. Ye Rustic Inn 1831 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Located in a Los Feliz strip mall, this dive bar has gained a cult following for one thing: its legendary chicken wings. The crispy, fall-off-the-bone wings can thank their vinegar-based hot sauce (and cheap price tag) for their popularity. More than just a bar, Ye Rustic Inn also serves a full dinner menu of classic American food (chicken fried steak, meatloaf, chili-cheeseburgers) and solid, unfussy drinks. The sports bar-meets-tavern space hasn't changed much since opening in 1971, so expect retro wood-paneled walls and deep leather booths.

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2. Jones Hollywood 7205 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

For gourmet 2am pizza, parties where disposable cameras serve as tabletop center pieces, and craft drinks served in a vintage supper-club-inspired dining room, Jones is something of a Hollywood staple. The 20-year-strong eatery is notorious for tasty Italian-American plates and celebrity sightings, both of which seem to draw plenty of crowds to the photograph-lined red-brick space. The restaurant is casual, with red-checkered table cloths and canned Italian groceries stacked against the walls, while the crowd is typically on the more glamorous side. And whether you come for hefty, authentic pizza and pasta dishes, or one of the inventive house cocktails, be sure to check out the bathrooms -- they're decked with photos of movie stars and socialites, sipping dirty martinis in the famous Hollywood nightclub that used to inhabit the space.

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3. The Short Stop 1455 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Equal parts dive bar and dance club, The Short Stop is an Echo Park hot spot located down the street from Dodger Stadium (get it?). The red-lit dance floor is fueled by a juke box or a late-night DJ, the pool tables and arcade games are there to break you when the dance floor tires you out, and the drink specials are made for pre- and post-Dodger game goers. Go early to beat the line, load up on $1 PBR tall boys, and don't miss the cheap (but delicious) street food vendors on your way out -- you just spent the whole night dancing, you deserve it.

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4. The Thirsty Crow 2939 W Sunset, Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Thirsty Crow is the kind of place you'd think your grandfather used to frequent. It's a bourbon-centric bar located in the former truck stop-style drinkery called Stinkers', whose owner capitalized on the elevated tastes (read: above the PBR/Jack Daniels paygrade) of his guests. He gutted, renovated, and re-concepted Stinkers' into The Thirsty Crow, and decked it out with a brand new... vintage feel. The shelves are stocked with over 40 small-batch distills, the music comes from an all-wood, all-vinyl juke box, the bar is lit by antique fixtures, and the walls are lined with weathered photographs. New construction, old-school flavor... like I said, there's no way your grandfather used to come here.

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5. Cafe Stella 3932 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

Whether you prefer dry-aged meats or barrel-aged cocktails, this Silverlake French eatery is armed with rotating menus of both. With dark-wooded tables, red walls dressed in vintage French signage, and a fully-stocked brick-lined bar, the modern-rustic spot is a local favorite for brunch and dinner, alike. Morning plates like clarified butter-topped lemon-ricotta pancakes are served alongside steaming cups of fresh coffee, while the evening crowd typically starts with one of the seasonal house cocktails. Dinner guests enjoy hefty platters of things like red wine braised short ribs, or opt instead for lighter (but equally elegant) charcuterie plates garnished with fresh fruit spreads and herbed crackers. But above all else, every one must taste one of the famous aged cocktails -- after all, they take 35 days to make.

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6. Tiki-Ti 4427 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

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.

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7. Honeycut 819 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Honeycut isn't just your standard, trendy, underground cocktail bar -- it's also literally situated under the ground. Built below downtown's Flower Street, the night spot tends to straddle the line between rowdy, boisterous dance club and upscale, craft-cocktail dispensary. The bar's sub-sidewalk lair is divided into two rooms: a Manhattan-esque dark-wooded drinking space, offering vintage pool tables and an extensive list of potent house concoctions, followed by a cavelike dance hall with a smaller bar for bottled beers, and a floor built entirely of flashing rainbow lights. If you're not looking to dance, we suggest you limit your stay to the first room -- the usual crowds are not exactly known for remaining subdued on the dance floor.

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8. The Lash 117 Winston St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

An evening spent at Lash feels a little more like a party at an exclusive, tucked-away Berlin night club than it does a night out at your standard L.A. dance spot. Stationed just off of an unassuming little Downtown alley, the building's diagonal black-and-white striped concrete facade opens up into to the main bar: a room decked with chipped white subway tiles, mismatched vintage furniture and bleacher seating. Once you've secured drinks at the bar in this mod, coldly-artistic space, you proceed into the party room -- a black marble-encased weekend lair with an industrial chrome disco ball, a series of cracked mirrors, and throngs of well-dressed drink-toting locals. The DJ is known to spin the perfect combination of beat-heavy dance hits and tracks you can sing along to, and the dim spot provides a notoriously ideal (and sweaty) stage for dance-floor-make-outs.

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9. Kula Revolving Sushi Bar 333 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Conveyor belt sushi can easily end up becoming a case of "that's how they getcha" -- the food never stops coming, and who can keep track of which plate corresponds to which price? Thankfully, at Kula, that all goes out the window because every single lunch plate costs $2.25.

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10. The Normandie Club 605 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005, Los Angeles, CA 90005

The Normandie Club is, in fact, not a club at all. It's a cocktail den in Koreatown, located in the Normandie Hotel, with a fresh take on cocktail culture. The menu is inspired by classics (literally, that's what it says on the menu). Your Old Fashioned may have a coconut bourbon base and a coconut chip in lieu of a cherry, there may be Sherry mixed into your martini, and your Bloody Mary comes sans vodka, sub aquavit. As for food, you can order from the popular burger joint, Cassell's, from The Normandie Club's website and have it delivered straight to your post at the bar.

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11. Walker Inn 3612 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Avoid the crowd at The Normandie Club, hit the buzzer at the back of the bar, and enter The Walker Inn, a speakeasy-style lounge serving unexpected cocktails in a dark, exclusive den. The monthly-rotating menu is based around an elaborate theme -- such as regional climates, with cocktails called Cloud, Rain, and Earth. Accompany your cocktail with the unusual omakase-style pairings at the bar.

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12. Cassell's Hamburgers 3600 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Talk about an American classic -- Cassell's Hamburgers, inside the historic Hotel Normandie, is a suave update of the '50 diner or dive serving up filling breakfasts full of chewy bacon and fried eggs over flat beds of hash browns. But that's not the main attraction -- all the attention here goes straight to the burgers, you know, hence the name of the restaurant. Daily ground Colorado Angus chuck and brisket patties sit proudly all on their in Parker House buns, but cheddar or swiss with a mountain of fixings (including avocado and fried eggs for the real burger champs) never hurt anyone, either.

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13. Frank 'n Hank 518 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020

It’s rumored to have been Charles Bukowski’s (he’s famous, look him up) local watering hole, it’s pictured in the opening credits of the 80s hit movie Barfly (it was a hit), and it features slightly provocative artwork on its dimly lit walls. Frank ’n Hank is a historic Koreatown dive bar on Western Ave. with cheap drinks, a pool table and dart board, and no pretension.