The best Silver Lake bars

Our favorite Silver Lake bars include a tiny tiki spot, a German beer hall and an alfresco oyster bar
Thirsty Crow
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Thirsty Crow
By Erin Kuschner and Time Out editors |
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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 neighborhood, there’s so much more to consider: a quiet wine bar, an eclectic tiki bar, a boisterous beer hall. Trendy “dive bars” abound, but you’ll 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 exciting as L.A. 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

Bars, Dive bars

4100 Bar

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4100 Bar, an unfussy watering hole next to 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 an $11 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.

Bars, Dive bars

Akbar

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Akbar’s retro-style lounge has become Silver Lake’s ultimate gay hangout. The crowd is a mix of all ages, drawing from L.A.’s pockets of cool such as Echo Park and Downtown. Drinks are strong, dancing is abundant and most nights come with a theme—like Mario Diaz’s big dance party, Full Frontal Disco, where classic and soon-to-be classic dance hits commingle with boys in bowlers and 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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Bars, Cocktail bars

Bar Stella

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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 Sophia, made with mezcal, Campari, agave and cold-pressed lime. The enclosed outdoor patio is great for small groups and locals who drop in, creating the perfect, intimate neighborhood cocktail joint.

Bars, Dive bars

Cha Cha Lounge

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

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Cliff's Edge
Photograph: Courtesy Cliff's Edge
Restaurants, Seafood

Cliff’s Edge

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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 Weather Up, made with fresh beet juice, Fernet Branca, peach liqueur and lemon—trust us, you’re going to want to go beyond the usual Pacifico or house white wine here.

Restaurants, Gastropubs

Edendale

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A fire station turned Silver Lake standby, Edendale draws a 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 black-tea and rum concotion, and there’s a decent beer and wine list to round out your drink options.

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Bars, Cocktail bars

The Friend

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What do you get when you take a ’50s diner and convert it into a French-themed cocktail bar? The answer is Silver Lake’s ridiculous party room decorated with a pink tile floor, baby blue wall paneling, plants everywhere and a pinball machine at the door to greet you. The vibe is fun, the clientele trendy, and the cocktails run classic to creative and infused with hatch chile. Feeling peckish? The bars snacks are some of our favorites in Silver Lake, whether you’re looking for pommes frites or an entire fried chicken sandwich.

Bars, Gastropubs

Hyperion Public

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The self-described “Community Pub” may seem like a typical neighborhood gastropub—unfussy cocktails and a selection of beers on tap alongside burgers and the like—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 (4-7pm daily) featuring $5 well cocktails, beer and wine, and get their Sunday brunch on with a breakfast egg sandwich and bottomless mimosas.

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Restaurants, Seafood

L & E Oyster Bar

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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 Kilpatrick with worcestershire, 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.

Photograph: Courtesy Fried Chicken Sandwich Studios
Restaurants, Filipino

Ma’am Sir

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Look, we know the big draw here is the fantastic Filipino food from Charles Olalia, but the cocktails are just as fun and colorful. Throw in a setting that feels like the tropics, complete with hanging plants and thatched walls, and you’ve got a recipe for transportive drinking. We always find ourselves coming back to the Manila by Night, made with Plantation pineapple rum, lemon, house-made coconut-banana shrub, orgeat and Xocolatl bitters, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu. Old World wines with local and Southeast Asian beers only add to the eclectic, something-for-everyone drink list.

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Bars, Gastropubs

Red Lion Tavern

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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 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. Also regulars? Large groups of friends who come to down pitchers (and boots) of the good stuff for hours on end.

Clubs

Thirsty Crow

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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 dive-bar 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 and stormy) only $5 each. Hello, day drinking.

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Black Widow at Tiki Ti
Photograph: Becky Reams
Bars, Cocktail bars

Tiki-Ti

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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 L.A. 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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