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 now are just 16 of LA’s many essential dive bars.Read More
The 16 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 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 maybe 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.
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.
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 ambience and weekend karaoke for the San Gabriel Valley set — the wings and burgers and nachos are a bonus.
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.
Twin Dragon Chinese Restaurant & Bar
Pico-Robertson’s Twin Dragon is timeless, the kind of classic Chinese restaurant that has proliferated across Los Angeles without, seemingly, changing too much. The cocktails here are their own kind of surprise, mostly because they lean sweet, occasionally slushied, and in rather bright tiki colors. Stop by for big platters of food to share with friends, and more than a few drinks near the fish tank.
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.
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, and 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.
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 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.
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.