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The best Silver Lake bars

Our favorite Silver Lake bars include a tiny tiki spot, a German beer hall and an al fresco oyster bar

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Thirsty Crow

We're just going to say it: there's a certain stigma attached to Silver Lake bars, and it involves mustachioed patrons and whiskey. Truth is, while there are plenty of whiskey bars to be found in this Eastside nabe, there's so much more to consider: a quiet wine bar, an eclectic tiki bar, a boisterous beer hall. Yes, dive bars abound, but you will also find a gorgeous outdoor patio serving craft cocktails and a lively gay bar with lip synching competitions. So cheers to Silver Lake for being as diverse and exciting as LA itself—and for keeping us hydrated every night of the week.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our neighborhood guide to Silver Lake.

Grab a drink at our favorite Silver Lake bars

4100 Bar

4100 Bar, an unfussy watering hole across the street from a Jiffy Lube at Sunset Junction, has the hallmarks of a real dive: $4 PBR and the distinct aroma of beer. Grab a shoddy stool that's just your size (no one stool is the same height) and either opt for a beer or order a $10 Moscow Mule served in a shiny, classy copper mug. Pretty much everyone has one, so you'll fit right in. For the complete 4100 experience, visit on a Friday or Saturday night when it's more lively—just expect to wait a while for parking, and remember to stop by the danger dog stand outside.

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Silver Lake

Akbar

Akbar’s retro-style lounge has become Silver Lake’s ultimate gay hangout. The crowd is a mix of all ages, drawing from LA’s pockets of cool like Echo Park and Downtown. Drinks are strong, dancing is abundant and most nights come with a theme—like Mario Diaz’s big Saturday dance party, Full Frontal Disco, where classic and soon-to-be classic dance hits commingle with boys in bowlers, wearing fishnets and stillettos in the center of the action. An adjoining room hosts comedy nights and performances; make sure to check Akbar's Facebook page for a full lineup of events.

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Silver Lake
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Bar Stella

At Bar Stella, you'll find hand-crafted cocktails in a den of exposed brick, where bartenders sport well-fitted, white club jackets straight out of Bogart's Casablanca. You might pass right by the space—the door is a bit concealed along the wall jutting out on the corner—but double-back and grab a seat along the back wall where you can sip away at well-mixed drinks, like a Gold Jacket made with rye and cremé de menthe. The enclosed outdoor patio is great for small groups and locals who drop in, creating the perfect, intimate neighborhood cocktail joint.

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Silver Lake

Cha Cha Lounge

A lone "Lounge" sign out front illuminates this Tijuana-themed party bar, where denizens stop by for a Pacifico by the bottle or PBR on tap. Take in the colorful Mexican paraphernalia, from sombreros to colorful flowers dangling overhead, and the portraits of drag queens and blacklight paintings on the walls. Its confusing conundrum of decor appeals to regulars—plus the photo booth, foosball table and oversized, shiny black booths for canoodling don't hurt.

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Silver Lake
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Cliff's Edge

While away an evening with a group of friends—or make googly eyes at a hot date—on the scenic patio at Cliff's Edge, complete with a gnarled tree sprouting in the center that rains down miniature figs in the summer. The cocktails here are all seasonally focused, drawing inspiration from fresh produce from the farmers' market. That might mean a Cocchi cobbler with passionfruit or an egg shen sour with gold sencha (green tea) foam and aromatic bitters—trust us, you're going to want to go beyond the usual Pacifico or house white wine here.

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Silver Lake

Edendale

A fire station turned Silver Lake standby, Edendale draws a consistent crowd that fills the sunny patio of this gracious, Spanish-style building. Plenty of seating both inside and outside means that it fits almost every need: a date, a group birthday party, a catch-up session between friends. A rotating list of cocktails might include a Black Walnut Manhattan or a bourbon and chai concotion, and there is a decent beer and wine list to round out your drink options. Oh, and let's not forget about brunch boozing. With the Silver Lake Reservoir just a few blocks away, you can order the bottomless mimosas for $20 and walk them off after Sunday brunch.

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El Chavito

If it’s cheap beer and good tequila you’re after, grab a stool at El Chavito, a somewhat divey bar attached to the so-so El Chavo Mexican restaurant on Sunset. From 5-9pm, happy hour ushers in $4 well drinks and margaritas, and you'll find live DJs spinning most nights to inspire impromptu dancing. The atmosphere is festive, the drinks are strong and there’s a patio outside for al fresco debauchery.

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Los Feliz

Hyperion Public

The self-described "Community Pub" may seem like a typical neighborhood gastropub—unfussy cocktails and a selection of beers on tap alongside pub fare—but tucked away in Hyperion Public's elevated backroom, a "hidden pub" provides the backdrop for weekly game and movie nights. Locals gather for happy hour (Mon-Thu 3-7pm, Fri noon-7pm) featuring $4 beer or wine and $5 well cocktails or beer and a bump, and get their Sunday brunch on (11am-2pm) with a breakfast egg sandwich and morning burger options. If you’re planning on becoming a regular, be sure to check out Hyperion's loyalty program where points earned will get you credits on future bills.

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Silver Lake
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L & E Oyster Bar

L & E Oyster Bar channels the spirit of the sort of old-school oyster shack you might expect to find on a remote oceanfront highway. You'll find both raw and cooked oyster options—the grilled Casino with butter, bacon and shallots is a safe bet—but truth be told, people come here just as much to drink as they do to slurp down seafood. Beer and wine can be found both upstairs and downstairs, with vino picks that range from a Santa Barbara rosé blend to a Spanish mencia, and beer highlighting local and international breweries. Just be sure to time your visit well—the place seats no more than 50 people, and they don’t take reservations.

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Silver Lake

Red Lion Tavern

It’s all about the back patio at this Silver Lake institution, a fixture since 1959. Current owner Aidas Mattis and his family still maintain the Bavarian connection with a beer stein-shaped sign out front; imagery of the Berlin bear; a 3-D mural of old-school, beer-toasting Germans, and wall-mounted promotional tins from classic German breweries like Warsteiner and Bitburger. Schnitzel and sausage are series regulars at Red Lion, as are German pilsners, Hefeweizens and lagers, as well as a featured beer of the month. Also regulars? Large groups of friends who come to down pitchers (and boots) of the good stuff for hours on end.

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Smog Cutter

As the sign says, "Hangovers installed and serviced." Your hosts at this infamous dive, where cheap beer and well drinks dominate, will be no-nonsense, mostly Asian bartenders who keep the funny business to a minimum: they're not afraid to fight and/or kick you out while screaming (often in another language), and you'll probably see it happen to at least one sad sack while you're wating for your song to que up. Your soundtrack for the evening will be the karaoke stylings of assorted drunken hipsters: when it gets going, this place is even rowdier than the Brass Monkey. And remember, this old-school joint is strictly cash only.

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East Hollywood

Thirsty Crow

The whiskey selection at this neighborhood mainstay is impressive: 100+ whiskeys and 60+ small-batch bourbons are on display behind a horseshoe-shaped bar. The only other view is brick walls through paned glass windows, while dim lights under sconces round out the room to give the bar a dramatic glow. At $12 a pop, cocktails here don't run cheap, but the happy hour (Mon-Sat 5-8pm; Sun 2-8pm) is one of the best in town, with a curated list of cocktails (Moscow Mules, Manhattans, the oft-elusive Dark'n'Stormy) only $5 each. Hello, day drinking.

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Silver Lake
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Tiki-Ti

Drive past Tiki-Ti and you will almost always see a line out the door. Its popularity is a factor, but so is its size: Tiki-Ti is tiny. Once you've settled in, you may run across a mechanical bull trotting down the bar; the unofficial mascot often makes an appearance as the night wears on, walking past patron's drinks as they cheer him on. There's plenty of fantastic rum to be had here, including Ray's Mistake, a must-have LA cocktail made with passionfruit and dark Coruba rum. Sure, Tiki-Ti's cash-only policy can be a pain, but regulars will always return for the strong drinks topped with maraschino cherries. Newcomers stop by to experience a Los Angeles institution—and wind up becoming regulars themselves.

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Los Feliz

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