California Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife city
1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
A meal at 1 Pico comes with the best element of staying at Shutters on the Beach: the view. You know where the sidewalk ends and the sand begins? That’s where you’re sitting. Or rather one floor up in the breezy, wood-beamed dining room. And judging from the hamachi tartare, squid-ink pasta, and simply, beautifully prepared market fish, chef David Almany designed the menu with the scenery in mind.
Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St., Financial District
With its central location along the Embarcadero in the Financial District, Americano is an easy spot for drinks after work. Their patio, where they often have live music, has a wide view of the bay, anchored by the Ferry Building on the left and the Bay Bridge on the right. The happy hour menu is blessedly simple, offering a cocktail, a wine, a beer, and a snack in their signature farm-to-table Italian style.
1205 Main St., St. Helena
Sometimes the best way to get a taste of the local scene (especially in a tourist-centric place like St. Helena) is to seek out the busiest hometown dive. We think it's fun just to belly up to the bar and chat with the regulars, but Ana's also has a pool table, a jukebox, and performances by local bands to mix things up a bit.
Angel City Brewery
216 S. Alameda St., Downtown
There are now a number of quality craft beer spots and breweries in LA, but Angel City Brewery remains a favorite. Located in the historic John A. Roebling Building in the Arts District, Angel City is a great casual spot to gather with friends for day-into-night beers. The brewery hosts a number of regular events, like Tacos & Trivia Tuesday, and is a popular host to a range of fun food trucks, although you can bring your own food with you, too. You can go on a public tour of the brewery Thursday through Sunday, and there are also a few different options for private events, including a large beer hall (capacity: 200) that is perpendicular to the brew house. The brewery always has several Angel City styles on tap, some of which you can find in other bars and shops around California and Nevada.
1746 N Spring St., Chinatown
Apotheke is nearly impossible to find—though not for long, given that David Chang’s Majordomo is next door. It’s on a slip of Spring Street that’s…not quite Chinatown…not quite DTLA. The interior of the bar, with its low rosy lighting, blush banquettes, leather armchairs, and pretty tile, is reminiscent of a French boudoir; that is to say that while so many bars feel inherently masculine, this one skews feminine. The outdoor patio is just as comfortable, with Turkish rugs scattered over the deck, big sofas to sink into, and plenty of space heaters. The beauty of the off-the-grid location is its size: You can sit outside and stargaze, never experiencing the claustrophobia so prevalent in other LA bars. The drinks are more like elixirs spiked with alcohol and divided into “aphrodisiacs,” “health & beauty,” and “painkillers.”
2807 Main St., Santa Monica
From Main Street, you can just see Ashland Hill’s tiny brick front—big enough for a handful of stools at the bar and a kitchen counter for quick orders. Keep walking and you’ll get to the picnic-tabled back patio. For food, there are shared plates (crispy cauliflower, shishito mac ’n’ cheese) and Ashland Hill’s take on pub food (a shawarma wrap, fried chicken sandwich, white cheddar burger with Parmesan cheese fries). Drinks range from “super local,” i.e., Ashland Hill’s own, to Southern Californian, Stateside craft beers, and a mix of California and international wines. There are cocktails, too, and if you happen to be a gin drinker, this is where you want to be. There are dozens of gins to choose from, maybe ten different kinds of tonic, and a menu of fixings to go with it all.
355 11th St., SoMa
The first thing you'll notice about Bar Agricole is their spacious, light-filled building—it's a historic warehouse re-purposed to LEED-certified standards specifically for the restaurant. In the outdoor space, you can sit in booths with your back to raised herb gardens—or, inside, you can sit inside on chairs made with wood from reclaimed wine barrels. The scene here is great any time of day, but it gets especially lively during weekend brunch (their boozy breakfast drinks, like the Radler and the Sangrita, are a strong draw).
2150 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
Judging by the droves of locals who come out to newly opened Bar Bandini on a nightly basis, the dimly lit, refreshingly under-designed spot met a very obvious need for a chill, but just romantic enough, neighborhood watering hole. The owners earned their stripes working in the food industry in both NYC and LA, and wanted to focus on all-natural and organic wines, which they source almost exclusively in-state and serve on tap (the craft beer selection is also worth exploring). It's all supported by a menu of bar snacks (the Sicilian olives are bomb) and small plates of cured meats and local cheeses.
4628 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz
With walls lined in vintage cameras, keys, and other antiques, the old-fashioned vibe here is complemented by the service, which aims to guide you to your wine soul-mate.
3910 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
Bar Keeper stocks only small batch liquors in a beautifully appointed storefront in Silver Lake. In addition to finding everything you might need to set up a top-notch bar (they're so good that they do drink set consulting for HBO's Mad Men and supply many of LA's finer cocktail bars like The Varnish), they have a staff mixologist that can come to your home and mix for you and your friends. The experience is meant to be hands-on, getting everyone involved in the process.
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