Bars in Los Angeles

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.

expert pick

Musso & Frank Grill

user rating

6667 Hollywood Boulevard

Old Hollywood Still Shines... read more

HMS Bounty

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3357 Wilshire Boulevard

Old fashioned feel-good bar... read more

expert pick

La Cita

user rating

336 S Hill Street
(At Third Street)

Low-key hipster hotspot... read more

The Prince Café

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3198 1/2 W 7th St

Plush Hideout in Koreatown... read more

The Woods

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1533 La Brea Ave


user rating

2640 North Figueroa Street
at San Fernando Road, Highland Park

Rock n roll... read more


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316 W Second Street

Pirate-themed bar... read more

Golden Gopher

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417 West 8th Street

Go for it... read more


user rating

20356 Pacific Coast Highway

See And Be Seen... read more
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