Great neighborhood watering holes populate just about every corner of this massive city, playing to locals who know when to follow the neon lights and weekend karaoke sounds. Best of all, these dependable haunts are frequented by true regulars who have often been working the jukebox for decades and know everyone in the place by name — though there are always plenty of first-timers and wandering souls around, too. Sure, they’re called dive bars, but the truth is these places are all about low-key fun, stiff drinks, a sense of community, and — on the right night — a little bit of anything-can-happen magic. Here are just 20 of Los Angeles’s many essential dive bars.Read More
The 20 Essential LA Dive Bars for a Boozy Night Out
Low-key places to drink with the local set
The Copper Bucket is a Reseda staple, first opened in 1951. Drinkers still come through to this family-owned dive for the delightfully kitschy wood paneling, neon signs, shuffleboard, and weekend crowds. Drinks are what you might expect: draft beers or brews by the bottle, and plenty of affordable well cocktails.
Good drinks, a chill vibe, and occasional food pop-ups keep the foothill crowd coming back to Rancho Bar time and again. Inside, the tables are bathed in red light, billiards games are always in motion, and the walls are covered end-to-end in photographs of staff and regulars. First-timers should come for the bloody marys and stay for a game or two of pool.
Fox Fire Room
For a dive bar that looks like it’s right out of a 1970s television sitcom, drop by this Valley Village lounge that’s replete with saloon doors, wood-paneled walls, well-lit dart boards, and even a cushion running along the edge of the bar top to rest weary barfly elbows. Locals flock here to enjoy strong pours while watching a game and doing some karaoke. For those looking for an early start, the saloon doors swing open at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. weekends.
Ye Rustic Inn
The wings are the thing at Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz: drenched in tangy (almost vinegary), buttery buffalo sauce and served with a heaping pile of artfully shaved carrots and celery, as well as your choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing (if you’re smart, you order both). The crowd skews decidedly hipster, but there’s still room inside the dim strip mall bar to belly up for a pint or two, some of the city’s best chicken wings, and great conversation.
Rest assured, even though this Hollywood Boulevard bar sports impressive neon signage, has served the likes of Sinatra and Bukowski, and features a 1963 Al Hirschfeld mural, it’s a legit dive bar. It opens every day at 11 a.m., features a jukebox, and offers heavy pours for fair prices.
The fun seemingly never stops at Tiki-Ti, the Sunset Boulevard cocktail legend that seats only a few dozen drinkers some nights, owing to its tiny space and customers’ penchant for lingering. They stick around for good reason: the drinks are strong and the atmosphere is unlike anything else in LA.
The Kibitz Room
Historically, the cocktail lounge attached to Los Angeles landmark Canter’s Deli on Fairfax is where one ends the night. That’s the way it’s been here since it opened in 1961. And everyone who’s anyone has performed on its tiny stage, from Joni Mitchell to Guns N’ Roses to Lenny Kravitz. Grab a beer and Reuben, chat up some locals, and stick around where an impromptu jam session might just go off.
As the sign in front of this Westlake bar advertises, this is the place for fried chicken and an ice cold beer. But what’s unsaid is that this bar by Dustin Lancaster (Bar Covell) is one of the best fried chicken spots in town. And the beer selection ranges from Bud on tap to world-class craft beer, such as Bell’s Two Hearted IPA.
Frank 'n Hank
This historic hole in the wall off Western Avenue, established in 1933, has long been the go-to for Angelenos pregaming before a Wiltern concert or ending a night out in Koreatown. Apparently, even Charles Bukowski was a regular. A diverse collection of locals, hipsters, and barflies connect over jukebox picks, a game of pool, and $4 happy hour PBRs, but make sure to also scan their curated selection of mezcals and whiskeys.
This Koreatown classic seems to be lifted straight out of the late ’60s, with a convivial after-work and early evening crowd. The food probably won't wow, but the drinks are super affordable and the old maritime vibes will feel just right while taking down a few beers.
This low-key nautical-themed bar located in a Little Tokyo strip mall wants to be everyone’s neighborhood spot; it seals the deal with live music, Tiki Goth Mondays, karaoke Thursdays, and a daily happy hour that runs all day on Sundays. Order up Shot + Tots, a well shot and tots with ketchup, for $10. Even when it’s not happy hour, the drinks are affordable as well as approachable. Close out a night of high-end drinking Downtown with a tropical punch like Drink Like a Fish with rum and Earl Grey tea.
The Living Room
Don’t overlook the magic of this longtime South LA haunt. Stationed next to Chef Marilyn’s on the border of Jefferson Park and West Adams, the Living Room keeps the vibe chill as DJs spin old-school grooves. A jazz band performs the blues on Sunday nights.
Chicago transplants and fans of the show The Bear will feel right at home in this new dive by the owners of Santa Monica’s Craftsman Bar & Kitchen. Congregate with other Chicago Bear die-hards while tucking into cheesesteaks and washing them down with martinis. The bar, which took over the old Arsenal space on Pico Boulevard in West LA, leans into its divey vibes with kitschy decor, year-round Christmas lights, and, of course, a jukebox. On Sundays, the doors opens at 9 a.m. Every other day? 11:30 a.m.
Culver City’s Cozy Inn lives up to its name: This is the cozy local spot to shoot pool, hang out with friends on the patio, or sip drinks under the sparkling lights inside. The jukebox is always stuffed with songs, the drinks are cheap and flow fast — what else could one want from a classic Westside dive?
Hinano Cafe is a staple beachside dive bar, the kind of sandy spot that visitors and locals love equally. From the simple burgers and hot dogs griddled behind the bar to the friendly staff and proximity to both sun and surf, Hinano is pure Los Angeles. On weekends, it can be a scene, so prepare accordingly; keep in mind that it’s cash only.
Prince O' Whales
While there’s no shortage of beach city bars with high prices and a scene, this bar, in the small beach enclave of Playa del Rey, has neither. It’s simply an unpretentious destination for locals and those looking for a chill place to catch the game, any game. Said to be the oldest sports bar in LA — built in the ‘50s and christened “Prince O’Whales” in 1972—it features 17 TVs, two patios, and ping pong and darts—the makings of a fun night out with friends. On Mondays, score a burger and two draft beers for under $10.
One of Downey’s best places to drink is the Glen, a simple spot for pool, karaoke, and suds. The few-frills environment doesn’t fall victim to the usual trappings of a dive bar — no dusty lampshades or weird old art — and instead focuses on a good time for all.
With its twinkling lights, cheerful bartenders, and burgers made behind the bar, there’s a lot to love about this Manhattan Beach favorite, which dates all the way back to 1927.
The Bull Pen
The Bull Pen is a local’s hangout of the highest order, the kind of place where it’s possible for Redondo Beach twentysomethings to run into their old high school teachers, or for old coworkers to reconnect after years apart over classic cocktails and vintage lights. Here the string lights always stay on, there’s live music on occasion, and everybody either already knows everybody else, or they get to know them, real fast.
Dive bars don't get much older (or more famous) than Joe Jost's, a Long Beach essential for going on 100 years. Yes, the place is that old — and that cool. Go for sandwiches, beer, and the famous pickled eggs.