You don't have to look hard to find karaoke in Los Angeles. From Koreatown to the Valley, hoarse renditions of Journey, the B-52s and Sir Mix-A-Lot songs can be heard wafting out of dive bars on many a city block. So when the urge hits, where should you head? We downed a bunch of liquid courage and drove Uber'ed our way from scene to scene in search of the best karaoke bars in the city. Not to be confused with karaoke nights, a karaoke bar offers the opportunity to impress others/embarrass yourself every damn night of the week. Here are our top places to belt it out.
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Check out the best bars for karaoke in LA
As the sign says, "Hangovers installed and serviced." Your hosts at this LA institution dive will be no-nonsense, mostly Asian bartenders who keep the funny business to a minimum, or else: 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 queue 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. Note: The songbooks haven't been updated in a while, so don't expect the newest pop hits here. And remember, this old-school joint is strictly cash only.
Known as America's "First Karaoke Bar," Dimples of Downtown Burbank is where Angelenos flock to get their late-night drink on and butcher "Purple Rain" before a room of friends and strangers. This divey watering hole serves up your typical menu of booze and greasy bar food, which aptly compliment the historically ramshackle decor and relaxed vibe. Their swag game is strong too, with DVDs, photos, even keychains of each performance, if you're willing to fork over the bucks. It's kitschy and full of history—so much so that most of its regulars are older, but don't let that hold you back. Belting one out at Dimples is pretty much an LA rite of passage, at this point. Just look for the cheeky little shack across from Warner Bros Studios.
NOTE: Sadly, Dimples is closing soon to make way for some real estate developments that do not include belting out Journey with your friends. So check out this LA institution while you still can!
Brass Monkey is arguably the most notorious karaoke dive in the city. Located in the ground floor of a nondescript office building (park and enter at the back), this ski lodge-styled room has one of the most comprehensive karaoke songbooks in the city. Waiting times on weekends routinely hit 45 minutes, so you'll have time to down plenty of liquid courage before you get your shot at the stage (bartenders may or may not enforce the lax two-drink minimum). The joint is super small and cozy, and if you want to sing, we suggest submitting your song choices early on.
Most nights, you can hear the Gaslite from at least a block away. Santa Monica's ultra-divey karaoke gem provides casual libations and a high-energy, lowbrow atmosphere. Anything goes at the dimly lit watering hole, from the varied clientele to the diverse array of musical stylings. Open from 2pm til 2am on weekdays and 9am (for real) til 2am on weekends, the Gaslite provides many opportunities for the late night (or, uh, midday) rock star in you to make an off-key public appearance.
Tucked unassumingly between an Asian takeout joint and a dry cleaner lies the mecca of karaoke bars on the Westside. This feel-good dive opens every day at 5pm and boasts thousands of karaoke tracks, which are updated daily, so no one is left without their signature jam. Show up early for Boardwalk 11's weekday happy hour—all beer, wine and well drinks are $3 til 8pm. You don't even need to eat beforehand—the place is stacked with a full menu of tasty edibles, from jumbo shrimp to deluxe grilled cheese. Plus, the place is super spacious, making it a sweet spot for office parties, birthday celebrations and nights out with the whole gang.
The Good Nite is the Valley's go-to karaoke spot. The tiny bar doesn't look like much from the outside, but drinks are affordable and strong (the bartenders are gents with their pours, especially if they recognize you). It's the kind of place with friendly regulars and helpful KJs who often make songs appear that aren't anywhere in the book—if you can't find what you want to sing, just ask! The one downside to such a chummy bar is that said regulars seem to get a bit more stage time than the rest of us—but considering it's never too crowded, there's usually plenty of time for everyone. If you're heading there for a party, call ahead and reserve the VIP booth.
It's not every karaoke bar that needs a 24-hour help line (ahem, 310-560-1510, if you're in dire need), but Karaoke Bleu isn't messing around. And with seven hours of karaoke nightly and a crazy-big song selection, the bar can get away with charging their per-person drink minimum, which shiftily shifts depending on how many are in your party. Some may balk at the charges—and at the indoor smoking policy, which we can't totally get down with—but the tradeoff is a joint that never seems too crowded, with a supportive clientele and friendly servers, not to mention some of the cheapest bottle service around (which we guess isn't saying much, considering this is a karaoke club, not a club club, but still). You'll also get to sing basking in the glow of neon, which is fun. There's no menu here, but snacks abound, and they're often passed out for free. P.S., we hear Bob Saget sings here. Sold.