Los Angeles offers a very wide range of bars, from dives where Charles Bukowski used to hang-out to totally fabulous spots full of beautiful and wealthy people.
On this list I have tried to select relatively low-key bars that also have something that makes them notable destinations. This "something" could be a certain hipness to the place, a storied past, or just a cool building or location.
The Musso & Frank Grill
is firmly in the historically important category. This restaurant and bar first opened in 1919 and has been in the same location since 1934, with very little remodeling. During the golden age of Hollywood, Musso and Frank's was one a happening places to hang out at. Back in the day, luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, and Orson Welles (to name just a few) were regulars.
Located on the ground floor of the 1924 Gaylord Building, the HMS Bounty
is another venerable restaurant and bar. This place opened in 1948 as the "Gay Room;" in the 50s it took on its nautical trappings and then was named the HMS Bounty in 1962 (when the movie of the same name was a hit). In those days, the neighborhood was sublimely happening, with the Ambassador and the Coconut across the street and the Brown Derby just next door. Having now outlived many of these nearby spots, the HMS Bounty is a pretty low-key neighborhood spot with a lot great woodwork and plenty of character. The Prince
is a cavernous and distinguished Korean bar just a couple blocks away from the Bounty that makes a great hide-out.
The list continues with a couple downtown bars ( La Cita
, the Redwood
and the Golden Gopher
), a hip but laid-back Hollywood spot ( The Woods
) and a hipster haven in Highland Park (Footsie's). The real wild-card here is Moonshadows
, located right above the ocean in Malibu. My advice regarding Moonshadows is to enjoy the awesome location and the drinks here but note that the food gets mixed reviews.
For more mellow bar options check out this L.A. Bar Guide
6667 Hollywood Boulevard
3357 Wilshire Boulevard
336 S Hill Street
(At Third Street)
3198 1/2 W 7th St
1533 La Brea Ave
2640 North Figueroa Street
at San Fernando Road, Highland Park
316 W Second Street
417 West 8th Street
20356 Pacific Coast Highway