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. 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 now are just 19 of LA’s many essential dive bars.Read More
The 19 Essential Dive Bars in Los Angeles
Low-key places to drink with the local set
Paul’s Tavern in Mission Hills does the basics right. The drinks are cheap, there are string lights glowing inside the space, and the pool tables get prominent placement inside. Come in, grab a pint or three, watch some TV, and enjoy.
The Copper Bucket is a Reseda staple, first opened in 1951. Drinkers still come through for the delightfully kitschy wood paneling, neon signs, and weekend crowds.
Good drinks, chill vibes, and occasional food pop-ups keep the foothill crowd coming back time and again. Come for the bloody marys and stay for a game or two of pool.
The Good Nite
Though some dive bars pride themselves on avoiding karaoke, the Good Nite embraces it. Its success is dependent on reasonably priced drinks and a masterful karaoke DJ. The former is always a welcome sight, and the latter keeps potentially cringeworthy performances at bay. Though dive-y, the Good Nite’s setup feels like a lounge, so select a drink and a song, and nab a taco from one of the vendors out front.
Ye Rustic Inn
The wings are the thing at Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz. The crowds now skew 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.
Jumbo's Clown Room
Jumbo’s is LA dive bar royalty. Part non-nude live dancer spot, part Thai Town pregame destination, this is the place to take out of towners or meet friends. Frankly, there’s no way to do Jumbo’s wrong — unless you try to take a picture inside, of course.
Hollywood's essential dive bar only gets better as the place gets more crowded. While the drinks are strong and cheap, the scene is the main draw, with everyone from scenesters to old-timers mixing and enjoying the general revelry.
As the name explains, Jay-Dee’s is technically a restaurant, but you wouldn’t notice just from walking in. This place is all about that laid-back ambiance and weekend karaoke for the San Gabriel Valley set — the wings and burgers and nachos are a bonus.
Molly Malone's Irish Pub
Not all Irish bars are created equal. At Molly Malone’s, a Fairfax institution for more than half a century, the focus is on pub fare and pints, of course, but the bar is also a legendary spot to catch up and coming musical acts before they make it big.
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 dirt cheap and the old maritime vibes will feel just right while taking down a few beers.
The Living Room
Don’t overlook the magic of this longtime 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.
Backstage Bar & Grill
Backstage Bar & Grill is somewhat famous in Culver City circles, thanks specifically to its location near the Sony building and its stellar karaoke setup. Celebs have been known to drop in from time to time, but mostly this is a place to belt out a few tunes and turn up with a group of friends looking to hang out under the dim red glow of the lights inside.
The best thing about Santa Monica dive Chez Jay is that it’s more than the sum of its physical parts: dark room, string holiday lights, sticky leather booths, quixotic maritime art (yes, there is a wooden ship’s wheel). The bar itself is a perfect dive for locals and visitors in town, but the dinner menu holds its own, too: people come for grilled calamari — once served whole-grilled, now as rings — and juicy Angus steaks.
Hinano is a staple beachside dive bar, the kind of sandy spot that visitors and locals love equally. From the simple burgers made behind the bar to the friendly staff and proximity to the sun and surf, Hinano is pure LA.
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.
There’s a come one, come all kind of feel to this Hawthorne hangout, where the bar tops are worn, the lights always have a touch of neon, the pool tables get heavy action, and more often then not the beers come with a shot on the side.
With its twinkly lights, cheerful bartenders, and burgers made behind the bar, what's not to love about this Manhattan Beach favorite, which dates all the way back to 1927?
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.
Long Beach’s Mineshaft is a special place. Since 1977 the bar (yes, it actually looks like a mine shaft, complete with exposed wooden beams) has been a haven for LBC’s enduring queer scene, and comes complete with pool tables a photo booth, and more.