Guide to North Hollywood bars
Sometimes spaghetti and meatballs goes best with a Galliano-spiked Screwdriver served in a tiki mug. BarToni's gets that. Roosting in the formerly dark and dingy back room of Little Toni's, an old-school Italian joint straight out of The Godfather, the bar is a suburban cocktail oasis. Head bartender Alex Barbatsis is whipping up inconspicuously strong Grasshoppers, Echo Park Swizzles (a play on the Queen's Park swizzle), and one of the best negronis in the city: Tears Dry on Their Own, a mezcal negroni that Barbatsis calls his "desert island cocktail." Stop by during happy hour (Mon-Fri 5-7pm), when you can get a free six-inch pizza when you order a specialty cocktail.
When you enter the Tonga Hut, LA's oldest operating tiki bar, there will be, without fail, a drooling bastard there to greet you. We're not referring to a sloshed patron slumped over the bar, but rather the Drooling Bastard, this North Hollywood bar's unofficial mascot. The sloppy drunkard comes in the form of a lava rock fountain, where a tiki mask (the bastard) dribbles water into a small pool. Across from the fountain, a bartender whips up classic tiki cocktails, like Mai Tais garnished with large sprigs of mint or the always-popular flaming scorpion bowl. Choose your favorite tunes at the jukebox before settling in to the Tonga Hut's cozy booths or chatting up regulars at the bar.
From the street, there’s no mistaking Idle Hour—a gigantic whiskey barrel that serves as one of the Valley's more whimsical bars. Step through the door and you’ll find yourself literally at the bottom of the barrel, with long, bowed planks of wood curving upward towards the circular ceiling. The interior is a celebration of wood that would make Ron Swanson proud, with low, warm lighting that accentuates the natural amber hue of the surrounding lumber. The food pays similar homage to Americana with throwback national dishes like deviled eggs and sloppy joes, while the drinks include classics like old-fashioneds and moscow mules, along with a agua de sandia: Hendrick’s Gin, lime juice, watermelon juice, firewater tincture and tajin.
If you love beer and bar games, you’ll feel right at home at Brickyard Pub. Not only does the selection of suds (more than 100, including seasonals, IPAs and a fun list of fruity beers) leave you spoiled for choice, but with ample pool tables, darts, shuffleboard and even beer pong, you’ll be set with activities for the night. Plus, who can resist a bar with a photo booth?
If all you need in life is sausages and beer, District Pub is your spot. The North Hollywood gastropub is known for their phenomenal beer list, a lineup of almost 50 brews that range from popular picks (Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA) to more creative beers (Beavers Milk Peanut Butter Milk Stout). There's a bottled beer list as well, with standards that include Golden Road Hefe and 805 Blonde). Pair with some of District Pub's sausages—alligator, lamb, Hungarian kolbasa, vegan apple sage and more—or gourmet burgers.
A retro lounge with a divey spirit, NoBar ticks a lot of boxes. Dark, moody red lighting? Check. An old juke box? Check. Strong drinks and the high probability of befriending the weirdos next to you at the bar? You bet! Stop by for happy hour, held every day from open until 10pm: $2 PBR, $4 well drinks, $5 wine.
At the end of a long line of auto shops on Lankershim Boulevard sits Tiki No, a darkened tiki bar where regulars come to smoke on the outside patio or chat up the dive's waitress while she concocts a Toasted Marshmallow. That would be one of Tiki No's more popular cocktails, made from overproof rum of Jaimaca, fluffed vodka, Licor 43 and a few other shockingly sweet ingredients. The cherry on top arrives in the form of a flaming marshmallow, causing you to wonder if you're here for drinks or dessert. Still, it's an impressive (and tasty) libation, as are some other staples on the menu—the Coconut Mojito, the Eastern Sour, the Suffering Bastard—and the bartenders make each one with admirable precision under plastic blowfish lamps.
Making perfect use of a two-story North Hollywood bank building from the 1920s, this multi-purpose space offers standard gastropub fare (think flatbreads, salads, fried chicken sliders), approximately 20 craft beers on tap, and a killer brunch menu on Sundays (Cajun shrimp and polenta, anyone?). Check the calendar for frequent performances taking place on the upstairs stage, which hosts everything from comedy nights to musical theater to jazz.