Best bars in Los Angeles: Hollywood's best watering holes

Check out the best bars in Los Angeles with a trip to Hollywood—from dive bars to cocktail bars, toast a night on the town at Tinseltown's top watering holes.



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Library Bar

Library Bar Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

You've dined at the best restaurants and stalked celebrity hangouts like a champ. Now, it's time to paint the town red (and bust a move) at the best bars in Los Angeles. Destination? Hollywood. Forget clichéd, tourist spots and velvet-rope attitude, check out our top bar picks—from the best cocktail bars to the best dive bars—in Hollywood.

RECOMMENDED: Best bars in Los Angeles

The Pikey

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This is the Hollywood good old boy’s pub you’ve been waiting for. Owners Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson (Il Covo, Roger Room) have transformed the former dive into a spacious country tavern where grand iron chandeliers and wall lamps illuminate British paraphernalia on the walls, red leather booths and two dark wood-paneled bars and dining room. A friendly and helpful staff serve up a full bar of beer, wine, spirits and a stellar selection of specialty cocktails pair perfectly with a menu of elevated pub fare for vegans, locavores and omnivores alike. Opt for Mary’s Vinegar Chicken ($19) or a Worcestershire aioli-smothered burger ($15), both served with "chips", thrice cooked and possibly the tastiest this side of the pond. Singles can drop in after the dinner bell and hold up at the back bar. Take advantage of daily happy hour from 4-6pm, which sees reduced prices on their specialty cocktails, red and white wines, bar snack and well drinks.

  1. 7617 W Sunset Blvd
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No Vacancy

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Jonnie and Mark Houston (Pour Vous, Harvard & Stone) unveil their latest Hollywood project, paying homage to pre-Prohibition with a painstakingly restored Victorian-style house, speakeasy vibe and serious shaking-and-stirring. Bar-goers can expect the same Brothers Houston touches such as a secret, back entrance á la La Descarga—a red-carpeted walkway leads you to three doors, so choose your suite wisely (hint: it's the same year that the house was built)—and live performances of DJs, dancers, old-timey band porch sessions and a surprise, gravity-defying act. The entire house is outfitted with antique touches (think: red velour chairs, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, original, wood moldings, vintage glasses) and clandestine corners—the "gift shop" sells retro candies and stogies, while the "telephone booth" doubles as a leather-tufted photo booth. Reserve a private room upstairs with its own private bar and available bottle service. The rest of us should come dressed to impress and settle into the main bar, decked out with a bitters bar, homemade seasonal syrups and tonic water and an extensive selection of spirits for creative cocktailing.

  1. 1727 Hudson Ave
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Jumbo's Clown Room

  • Price band: 1/4

Welcome to the land of milk and honey known as Jumbo’s Clown Room. Hollywood’s notorious pole dancing club, this small laid-back dive has dancers of all body types shaking it onstage to rock music hits from the past and present. It’s not a "strip club" per se; pierced, inked, and totally rock 'n' roll, these chicks don’t get naked, but perform some serious pole acrobatics onstage in their underwear. The crowd is eclectic and the vibe is welcoming: men, women, old-timers and newbies come to witness the sexy skills of these badass alternative beauties. Tips for the dancers are always encouraged, but if guests don’t have the funds to make it rain for the girls, they can sit farther away from the stage, order some drinks and enjoy the show.

  1. 5153 Hollywood Blvd
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The Spare Room

  • Price band: 2/4

Tucked away on the second floor of Hollywood's Roosevelt hotel, the Spare Room is like stepping into another era where classic cocktails and punch bowls—served by waitresses in Gatsby-era dresses—pour freely and people make merry all night long. The big draw here is Monday game night when an exclusive bowling league competes (get on the waitlist to high-five with Hollywood's pretty, young things). Groups of up to six—clad in Spare Room's George Esquivel–designed bowling shoes and argyle socks—can reserve one of two lanes for $100 an hour. Or just chill in the lounge, and cozy up to your neighbors with a friendly game of Dominoes, Monopoly, Connect Four or Battleship. On Wednesdays, from 8-10pm, there's half-price bowling and happy hour–priced food and drinks.

  1. 7000 Hollywood Blvd
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The Writer's Room

  • Price band: 3/4

Old Hollywood is alive and well among the pretty, young things at the Writer's Room. Hidden alongside Musso & Frank's back parking lot, the bar—once owned by Tinseltown's oldest eatery and frequented by the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Raymond Chandler and Dorothy Parker—is bringing back the Golden Age to the 21st century. There's the speakeasy feel of nondescript doors and "the list," but the old-fashioned typewriter and doorman (albeit, friendly) let you know that you've come to the right place. Walk the long length of the outdoor patio to a half spiral staircase that leads down to the dimly lit den of vintage (patinated mirrors, Art Deco fixtures) and modern (David Bowie and graffiti paintings). A live DJ and groups tucked away in high-back booth and mingling in the open space make the space feel like a mini night club where dancing is encouraged. The moderate-sized bar can get quite crowded with one bartender manning the drinks. Your bartender may look like he stepped out of a porn shoot and not care what you order—perhaps because bar-goers are sipping Champagne and vodka sodas—but drinks are expertly made with top-notch ingredients. Come early to stake out a booth (or the daybed tucked away in the corner).

  1. 6685 Hollywood Blvd
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Whitehorse Inn Cocktail Lounge

  • Price band: 2/4

The Whitehorse Inn Cocktail Lounge, attached to a Super 8 Motel in Hollywood, is notorious for many things. It's incredibly dark (as most dive bars are), and when your eyes adjust, you'll see in the reddish glow that the bar's walls are covered—literally covered—with fuzzy pictures of patrons. There's a pretty swingin' jukebox, and although it's sometimes broken, the jukebox repair man tends to arrive around happy hour to fix it up, which means you get to see the innards of the box, as well as a tipsy repair man. There are comfy (if old) couches to watch from, and a pool table no one can actually play on because it's always covered with free snacks such as popcorn, candy and questionable hot dogs. The drinks here could be a tad cheaper, especially because each one is measured out to the drop (read: no heavy-handed pours here), but the surly, female senior citizen bartender serving them is entertainment enough to warrant that extra buck.

  1. 1532 N Western Ave
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