Los Angeles Bars & Nightlife
5125 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
It’s not often a neighborhood bar checks off everything you want in a neighborhood bar. But Tabula Rasa does exactly that (if you’re lucky enough to live in the neighborhood). Far from a blank slate, Tabula Rasa is a friendly wine bar with a fantastic wine list (a mix of both natural wines and classics) and rotating roster of food pop-ups—whether it’s wood-fired pizza or lobster rolls or Japanese fried chicken—all served on the patio. The owners are Bestia alums, so it’s no surprise that the food and wine here are as good as it gets.
5635 N Figueroa St., Highland Park
Nestled on a hill on the Eastern fringes of Los Angeles, Good Housekeeping is the kind of local bar (hidden behind the excellent Café Birdie) down the main Figueroa drag you always wish you lived closer to. It’s impossibly cool. The tiny Pueblo-style outdoor sun-trap—all smooth terra-cotta walls, red tile, and cushioned seats to curl up in with that umpteenth glass of cold Chenin Blanc—is dreamy in the evening. The booze list is short and confident. The Nature Baby—a muddle of tequila, sage, orange bitters, ginger, and tonic—erases all memory of the traffic it may have taken to get here.
1412 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park
By day, this Echo Park hangout is a café where patrons curl up on leather sofas with books and laptops, sipping coffee and ordering salads packed with veggies and grains or comforting bowls of tomato soup with toasted sourdough. Once early evening hits, though, it transforms into a jam-packed bar and restaurant, where locals stop in for the popular happy hour and huge cocktail list.
Toe Bang Cafe
3465 W. 6th St., Koretown
This lively, dive-y K-town bar is a popular spot when you’re waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant, like Quarters or Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. But it’s also a worthy destination in itself for its soju-based cocktails (we’re partial to the mango and lychee flavors), the fun hip-hop playlist, and bar snacks like kimchi pancakes, bulgogi cabbage wraps, and scallop skewers. Sports fans can watch Lakers and Dodgers games on the big-screen TVs.
4070 W. 3rd St., Koreatown
Since 1986, Soopsok has been the place to belt out Top 40 hits, classic rock ballads, and current K-pop favorites in one of its twenty karaoke rooms (some of which can accommodate up to thirty people). Order a couple bottles of soju (Korea’s national drink) and some plates of spicy chicken wings and nachos, and it’ll be impossible to not have a fun night.
3002 W. 7th St., Koreatown
Crispy, spicy, and slathered in gojuchang (a red chili paste), the fried chicken wings at this dive-y pub are considered the real deal among the Korean fried chicken experts in the city. Its name comes from the Korean beer brand OB, and naturally, an ice-cold pint is the typical pairing with an order.
The Normandie Club
3612 W. 6th St., Koreatown
If you're looking for a bar to impress visiting friends, you have now found it. The space is as classy and refined as it is cool—dark leather chairs, painted brick, and low lighting. The drinks are, in a word: impressive. The mixologists at the Normandie Club have invented house specialties that all put a unique spin on a classic: a daiquiri with a salted-grapefruit cordial, an old-fashioned with coconut bourbon. Our favorite is the shandy: a crisp lager elevated with Suze, blueberry mint syrup, and a squeeze of lemon. The drink is crisp, refreshing, and sweet without being cloying. There's also a generous selection of global liquors, including brandy, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, mezcal, tequila, and cider on tap. Given there's no food, this is a perfect spot for a nightcap after dinner.
3357 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Everything about this place speaks of comfort: the friendly, loyal servers; the kitschy, nautical vibe; the jazz jukebox in the corner; and the complete lack of pretense. The Bounty is a classic, dark, dive-y LA landmark that's endured despite K-town’s hipster invasion—and the prices have stayed relatively low. We don't come here for the food (although the fish and chips is solid); we come for the generous, consistent drinks. There's comfort in knowing that it's always the same every time we come. But you know what else is consistent? How far away the bathrooms are (which is: in the adjacent historic hotel, past the lobby desk, down the dark basement stairs, and next to the laundry room).
3932 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
There are many reasons to live on the Eastside, and easy access to Bar Stella is at the top of that list. This is (arguably) the best bar in the city. Sitting outside on a slow summer afternoon, sheltered by a canopy of bougainvillea, an Aperol spritz (easy on the Aperol, heavy on the spritz) on the table, is quickly becoming a quintessential LA activity. Inside, the scent of just-peeled citrus hits you hard, the white-jacketed mixologists are pros, almost-nonexistent lighting sets a seductive tone, and the walls are painted a pretty, mottled blush. Lounge on the low leather sofas drinking cocktails all afternoon. When evening hits, the volume turns up and the lights go even further down. The terrace outside—all wicker furniture and terra-cotta cushions—is straight off the French Riviera.
7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
In the continued migration west of all things New York comes the LA outpost of a beloved West Village cocktail bar. It's the perfect spot for a group and an ideal way to kick off a night of cocktail hopping. Cofounder Dushan Zaric has transformed a former BBQ restaurant into a space straight out of a Baz Luhrmann movie, with Art Deco touches, mahogany paneling, and textured wallpaper. Fans of the original will notice the neon “Psychic” sign in the window, and indeed, there are three psychics in residence each night, available for fifteen-minute readings. But really you come for the cocktails: There are the classics for which EO is best known, plus newbies like the Hope Monkey (Kaffir-lime-infused Gin Mare and absinthe bitters). Many of the new cocktails showcase locally sourced chamomile and sage syrup, and CBD oils in addition to fresh citrus juices. There’s also a full dinner menu, but the bar snacks are probably your best bet—bone marrow poppers, oysters, and fries are a good way to go.
You may also like