Some nights you just want to keep it close to home. That dive bar around the block, the beer bar down the street—they're all part of what brings a neighborhood together. Check out our picks of the best new neighborhood watering holes to open this past year and vote for your favorite.
See the other contenders for the Food & Drink Awards and cast your ballot for the best new neighborhood watering hole of the year.
*Voting ends April 21 and the winners will be announced on May 12.
There’s something wildly refreshing about The Know Where Bar, a no-frills establishment that bills itself plainly as a place for "beer, wine, sparkling, & small bites." Many of the bars that have opened for business in and around Tinseltown by some of LA's elite bar collectives offer up themed experiences designed to look like bordellos and lived-in mansions (think: No Vacancy, Sassafras). But none of that is present at this wholly minimalist watering hole (on Hollywood Boulevard, no less).
If you're sick and tired of waiting 15 minutes for a craft cocktail, get yourself over to Little Tokyo's latest watering hole for a quick, uncomplicated drink. Wolf & Crane—the first local joint in decades to get a full liquor license—preserves LA's first-rate mixology culture without all the pretension. You won't get sneered at for ordering a Johnnie Red and soda ($6), because there are six other drinks on the menu just like it. We're talking highballs on the rocks, like the Cuba Libra ($9) made with Mexican coke, and a gin and tonic gussied up with grapefruit bitters ($10).
Somewhere between an elegant lounge and a dicey dive lies Wendell. A stone's throw from skid row, this neighborly Main Street bar looks nothing like Bukowski's old refuge Craby Joe's, although T. Elliott (The Standard) and partners Stan O'Connell and James Campbell retained the long-closed taproom's stone floor. Now, the refitted two-story space features stylish dark wood, a rod iron stair railing, glimmering chandeliers, and an impressive tap list—14 artisanal brews, from the stiff Speedway Stout ($7) to the hoppy Houblon Chouffe ($8).
Rooftop bars are understandably cherished in Los Angeles. It's no exception for Pearl's Liquor Bar, which ups the ante with a double-decker patio. The ground floor is steeped in '20s glam, with dazzling chandeliers, jewelry cases and marble countertops—a look that's been done over and over, but this one surprisingly lacks pretension. The real draw, though, is upstairs. Ascend a hidden staircase to an AstroTurf oasis of ivy-covered walls, antique garden furniture, a swing, fireplace and photo booth. Then head straight to the upper-deck bar.