Los Angeles Bars & Nightlife
1498 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
The most coveted seats inside this small, dim tequila bar are on the wraparound velvet couch, and if you can snag it, by all means do. On the weekends especially, Bar Caló gets crowded with Eastsiders who come for the mezcal and stay for the food. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, like the Oaxacan hot chicken, roasted garlic guacamole, or a quesadilla with queso fresco and mezcal salsa. The cocktails are all impressive, the food is authentic, and in the summer when the patio is lively and bustling, the whole place hums with a good time.
707 E. 4th Pl., Arts District
EightyTwo is a bar, but the drinks are more like a bonus here. The real draw: one room full of quarter-operated classic video games and another dedicated to the great game of pinball. Rotating food trucks make regular stops in the back courtyard, so you can take a break in the middle of a Pac-Man tournament.
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).
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