We expected great bar bites—after all, the food menu's brought to us by the team at the Park's Finest next door—but Thunderbolt more than delivers on cocktails, too. An ample madeira collection and playful concoctions such as the clarified take on a piña colada (Tropipop) put fruit and Southern flavor at the forefront, and they just so happen to pair perfectly with plates of country ham and their luscious fried green tomato sandwiches. But the bar team isn't just about the South; Thunderbolt also pays homage to Historic Filipinotown with sleek, creative and so-good-you-can't-put-them-down options like the P-Town Boxing Club, made with pandan and coconut-washed rye. Throw in a lively front patio, comfy leather sofas and top-notch playlists, and it's no surprise we tend to stay all night. On Wednesday, August 23, Thunderbolt will also host Wolfgang Mayer of Zurich's Widder Bar, who will serve some of the critically acclaimed German bar's award-winning cocktails. Outdoor patio available.
After years of struggling through the pandemic, L.A.'s bar scene has learned to roll with the punches, and there's always no better time than now (or this weekend) for a good, well-made drink, preferably with a side of good, old-fashioned camraderie with slightly buzzed strangers. After all, bars, like restaurants and public parks, give rise to the sought-after sense of belonging and community that characterizes what sociologist Ray Oldenburg called "third spaces."
Right now, L.A.'s drinking scene is back and better than ever, and we’re glad to be back at a busy bar, credit card in hand, hoping to flag down a bartender. L.A. might have cozy dives near the beach, happy hours with views of the Hollywood Hills, and plenty of buzzier new watering holes, but if you’re really asking us, here are the 17 best bars in Los Angeles—for any occasion.
Nov 2023: After criss-crossing town revisiting old favorites and scouting for new ones, we're pleased to make three new additions to the guide: a Prohibition-style cocktail bar along Melrose Boulevard, an Arts District mini-discoteque and the return of Accomplice, Little Fatty's cocktail bar, to our Best Bars guide.