Lock & Key

Bars, Cocktail bars Koreatown
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(17user reviews)
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 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Balled-Up at Lock & Key
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Old Money at Lock & Key
 (Photo courtesy Lock & Key)
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Shady Schemes and Daisy B. at Lock & Key
 (Photo courtesy Lock & Key)
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
BG (Butter Garlic) Fries at Lock & Key
 (Photo courtesy Lock & Key)
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Deep fried PB&J at Lock & Key
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
 (Photo courtesy Lock & Key)
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Lock & Key
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Lollipop chicken wings at Lock & Key

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Deep fried PB&J at Lock & Key

 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Angry Bird at Lock & Key

Following in the speakeasy trend set by the likes of the Varnish and La Descarga, this Koreatown lounge—a low-ceiling, white marble and green-leather banquettes set the "Caesars Club" vibe, perhaps a nod to the former karaoke inhabitant. As expected, the entrance is unmarked: A stylish red door leads to a theatrically disorienting wall of doorknobs and keyholes. Once inside, there’s a small selection of beer and wine—four bottled beers (IPA, Lager, Brown Ale, Triple) and six wines by-the-glass (bubbly, white, rose and red)—but the cocktail program is front and center. Fresh herbs, fruits, simple syrups and torches set the stage for well-made, craft cocktails prepared by attentive and friendly bartenders donning classic white collared shirts and black vests. There’s a limited late-night, food menu from the next door Stall 239—try the Lollipop Chicken Wings ($7) and not-so-date-friendly garlic fries ($3).


Good for: Sipping craft cocktails amongst a celeb contingent, thanks to co-owner/actor Hill Harper.

The scene: Weeknights offer more of a "Sinatra" vibe, which we take to mean there’s “No one in the place." The focus is entirely on the art of mixology and serious aficionados can indulge in well-made drinks. Weekends offer a completely different experience with an undoubtedly Koreatown contingent of the young, attractive and well-dressed—dress code is enforced—crowd into banquettes. When the bar gets slammed, an abridged cocktail list replaces the 11 signature cocktails normally on offer and DJs turn up the music giving the place a "club" feel.

The playlist: At the will of high-minded DJs.

The bartender says: There’s an unintended surprise thanks to all the “hush, hush” mentality: An unabashed fully marbled hallway leading to wholly unmarked restrooms—choose wisely ladies and gents.

Drink this: Signature cocktails run $12 across the board. The Torpedo is a luscious taste-bomb of pear vodka, pear nectar, lemon juice, egg white, maple syrup, fresh ginger juice, black pepper and droplets of toasted sesame seed oil that add nutty complexity and a savory surprise. Balled-Up builds on homemade ginger beer with bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and mint leaves. If you like it sweet, try the Old Money—Scotch whiskey, demerara syrup, fresh ginger juice, bitters and an orange peel.

By: Jonathan Cristaldi


Venue name: Lock & Key
Address: 239 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7pm-2am
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Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:15
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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Jeong Ki P

This place has one of the best looks in town. I love to be here and have a little snack.

Jay E

I honestly visited Lock and Key wanting to order a ramen burger which apparently moved. So I tried out their lock and key burger and loved it. Ordered it medium rare. It was cooked to perfection. The fries were amazing too. More than worth the $10 price tag. Did I mention it is huge?

Tarita N

Lively, and always consistently amazing cocktails. The staff is so friendly and they have this cool outdoor space. Its the original cocktail bar concept in Koreatown and they left the attitude out. Thanks Lock&Key!

Linda L

It's kind of a hidden red door situation. You have to find the right door knob to get into the bar. Awesome drinks and a good food menu. You don't expect that from a bar

William H

Bomb!! Food is amazing, service treats you like fam, and always got new creative drinks every season!

Cyrus B

Amazing food and drinks. A good variety of entertainment. From Jazz bands to Dj's!

April R

Their cocktails are made with detail using, fresh juices, house made tonics, infusions, and syrups are and they have close to 300 spirits. Moreover, the service is outstanding. The staff know how to make the night amazing.

Skubi G

This is one of the greatest places in LA to go to for specialty cocktails . not only do they have great service. the people there are amazing. this is a must go to spot in Los Angeles

Boo H

Lock & Key is a beautiful hidden bar with some of the most incredible cocktails that LA has too offer. The Ktown Chemist Barstaff are all very knowledgeable and love helping you find something you'll love on or off menu. Everything is fresh, the food is delicious, and the bands, events and Djs always keep things fun & interesting!

Kiana G

Great day party spot! Get there early on Sundays to avoid the line for "Ice Cream Sundays".  Also the patio area gets pretty packed. But it's always good music, great drinks, and good vibes. 

Erin Kuschner

I don't totally understand Lock & Key. In theory, it could be really great. There's the whole speakeasy, secret entrance thing going on that people love, and the drinks are great. But only if you can actually get to the bar, which, after 9pm most nights, you can't. Their system behind the stick is maddening, they don't have any strategy for crowd control, and the place gets packed beyond belief. I do like that you can order from Ramen Burger next door...