Los Angeles’s 12 favorite bars

The bloody Mary at Superfine Playa is accented with olives, basil, a mozzarella cube, and snap pea salt. | Credit: Wonho Frank Lee
A bloody Mary at Superfine Playa in Los Angeles made with vodka, Superfine bloody mix, olives, basil, mozzarella, and snap pea salt

Meeting up for a drink is a common pastime in Los Angeles, where balmy weather and a plethora of bar choices give Angelenos countless ways to kick back.

Sip on a world-famous martini at Hollywood’s oldest restaurant. Savor imported sakes from a 2023 James Beard Awards finalist at a Japanese pub in Echo Park. Head to an all-day wine bar in Beverly Hills for a global selection that prioritizes family-run winemakers.

No matter what vibe you’re after, there’s a spot ready to stir up a good time. Read on for a guide to the 12 best bars to grab a drink in Los Angeles right now.

Redbird (Downtown)

Co-owners Amy Knoll Fraser and Neal Fraser brought new life to the Downtown dining scene in 2014 when they opened Redbird inside the historic Cathedral of St. Vibiana. Much of the church’s interior remains intact with modern details, such as an all-glass ceiling inside the former rectory and wrought-iron gates at the entrance. It’s an ideal setting to enjoy award-winning bar director Tobin Shea’s seasonal cocktails, inspired by LA’s bounty of produce, flowers, and international flavors. Sip on fruit-forward favorites such as the Stonefruit Spritz, made with apricot wine and plum brandy, or the spirit-free Chester Copperpot with non-alcoholic rum, lime, raspberry, cream, and orange blossom water. Wine director Matt Fosket pours a selection of well-rounded finds from Portland to Irancy, Burgundy.

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Superfine Playa (Playa Vista)

Superfine Playa is the newest Californian-Italian restaurant by inimitable duo Steve and Dina Samson of Rossoblu and Superfine Pizza fame. The spot is all about bright cocktails and exquisite seasonal pastas that complement the sunny Playa Vista weather. A seat at the bar gets you a full view of the kitchen, plus an up-close look at the fresh ingredients sourced from the local farmers market. The current cocktail menu—helmed by Ella Zoller, the force behind cocktails and community pop-up bar Honey House—features variations on classics, such as the Pomelo Paloma, which gets its sun-kissed color from orange and tajin. Bonus points for the zero-proof mocktails with equally delicious ingredients such as cucumbers, Cara Cara oranges, kiwi, and more.

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Guerilla Tacos (Downtown)

A trio of fruity cocktails at Guerilla Tacos in Los Angeles
Guerilla Tacos’s inventive cocktails make it well-suited for a first date or a lively night out with friends. | Credit: Guerilla Tacos

Guerilla Tacos is locally loved for its scrappy beginnings as a taco truck. Its brick-and-mortar location is decked with a vibrant graffiti wall (a tribute to its street roots) and a stenciled drawing of the late LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold. Friendly service and a fully stocked bar make this spot well-suited for a first date or a lively night out. The most popular cocktails have cheeky names such as the cherry liqueur-accentuated Peach, Please or the Pansy Dropper, a spicy and nutty mezcal drink with tamarind, falernum, and ancho chile tincture. Mezcal lovers come for flights featuring notable Oaxacan producers, and for those who aren’t imbibing, there’s seasonal agua fresca. Post up here, order some chips and guac, then make way for a ribeye taco, and you’ll see why this casual spot is a local gem.

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OTOTO (Echo Park)

Ototo helped Echo Park become a hub for modern Japanese fare when it opened in 2019. The tiny but mighty sake bar wows with its warmly lit interior, cozy nooks, private den (bookable for larger groups), and educational programming. As the only sake spot nominated in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages category for 2023’s James Beard Awards, Ototo offers a rare imported sake lineup aimed at Japanese rice wine neophytes and more seasoned connoisseurs. Flavors span the gamut from earthy and savory to fruity and floral—and everything in between. Ototo also carries seasonal Nama sake for those in search of the fresh unpasteurized option, plus top-notch drinking snacks such as soy-braised pork belly and a chicken katsu sando.

Ella Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills)

Three tropical cocktails at Ella Beverly Hills in Los Angeles
The drinks menu at Ella Beverly Hills includes artful spins on classics. | Credit: Chelsie Starley

Ella Beverly Hills is a contemporary riff on the Prohibition era inside the posh SIXTY Beverly Hills hotel. It’s a vision carried out by executive chef Brian Min and bar directors Zach Patterson and Doran De Tappan, whose penchant for Mediterranean, Italian, and Asian influences defines much of the menu at this swanky cocktail bar. For those who want to linger past happy hour, there’s an additional Ella Rooftop area. At both locations, you can get artful spins on classics, such as a milk punch sweetened with unfiltered apple juice and pearl jasmine tea, or an old fashioned with applewood and cinnamon-smoked, brown butter-washed bourbon. Ella also invites budding wine sommeliers into its Bottle Shop, which sells natural and biodynamic wines (to enjoy onsite or at home).

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Musso & Frank Grill (Hollywood)

The martini at Musso Frank & Grill in Los Angeles comes with a bucket of crushed ice and a small carafe that holds a refill.
The legendary martini at Musso & Frank Grill is stirred 12 times in ice. | Credit: Tina Whatcott

Musso & Frank Grill reigns as the century-old steakhouse superstar in Hollywood. The area icon is the oldest operating restaurant in the neighborhood and buzzes with large groups gathered for birthdays, anniversaries, and more. And yet, Musso & Frank’s bar—decked with swiveling chairs, a vintage mirror backsplash, and a fiery open grill—feels like one of Hollywood’s most intimate escapes. Get an old-timey appetizer, such as baked escargot or Roquefort mousse-stuffed celery and the world-famous martini, stirred 12 times in ice, then carefully strained into a vintage glass. The liquor comes with a bucket of crushed ice and a small carafe that holds a refill. Drink in the classic surroundings and make good use of the swiveling bar chair, ideal for people-watching and the occasional celebrity-spotting.

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Sur Le Vert Wine Bar (Beverly Hills)

A bartender sorts through a bucket of wine bottles at Sur Le Vert Wine Bar in Los Angeles
The wine selection at Sur Le Vert Wine Bar prioritizes family-run winemakers. | Credit: Cortney Morentin

Zach Negin and Nicole Dougherty, the pair behind beloved Thai Town bar Tabula Rasa, head west with this elegant all-day wine bar. It’s a stylish place for Angelenos who want to support small-scale wine producers. Caviar, kanpachi crudo, and charcuterie boards accompany vino from family-run winemakers around the globe. Enjoy it all in an emerald jewel box-like space (Sur Le Vert is French for “on the green”) decorated with enchanting light fixtures and velvety couches—there are no bad views from any corner of this pretty wine bar.

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Lilly Rose (Downtown)

Mismatched furniture and chandeliers make up the fantastical interiors at Lilly Rose in Los Angeles
Lilly Rose is known for its fantastical decor and whimsical entertainment lineup. | Credit: Wonho Frank Lee

This underground parlor in the Wayfarer Downtown Hotel features whimsical entertainment (stand-up comedy, magic shows) and cheekily named drinks, including the mezcal-forward HisPanic! at the Disco and the alcohol-free Game, Set, Matcha (non-alcoholic gin, matcha, lemon, egg white, and orgeat) that follow suit. Opt for the “High Tea & High Balls” experience, which includes tea infusion-inspired craft cocktails. The vibe at Lilly Rose, though, is anything but buttoned-up. Eccentricity is welcome here and surfaces in the form of fantastical decor, including pig-shaped tables.

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All Day Baby (Silverlake)

The ADB Painkiller at All Day Baby in Los Angeles is made with rum, passion fruit liqueur, orange and pineapple juice, coconut cream, and a strawberry float.
The passionfruit-forward ADB Painkiller is the ultimate treat on a hot Los Angeles day. | Credit: All Day Baby

All Day Baby is the second restaurant from chef Jonathan Whitener and managing partner Lien Ta and is an acclaimed Silverlake fixture for its joyful vibes and Southern-accented fare. ADB is a diner at heart, which explains the glass pastry case, linoleum floors, and coffee counteresque bar, adorned with hanging plants. Come nightime, the bakery-diner hybrid becomes Tet-a-Tet, a pop-up serving innovative Vietnamese dishes with a blend of flavors (not unlike Whitener and Ta’s other venture, Here’s Looking At You in Koreatown). Treat yourself to a boozy milkshake (there are non-alcohol versions, too) for brunch, or get the passionfruit-forward ADB Painkiller on a hot summer day. In the evening hours, must-try drinks include the Long Goodbye, a vodka-forward cocktail with a lime and chipilín cordial. It makes a zesty complement to dishes such as the fried whole huachinango or Veracruz-style red snapper.

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Fanny’s (Mid-Wilshire)

The Parasite cocktail made with soju, rye, vermouth, gochujang, and bird’s eye chile and caramel popcorn at Fanny’s in Los Angeles
Many of Fanny’s cocktails are named after award-winning films, including the rye-and-soju drink, Parasite. | Credit: Fanny’s

Award-winning Californian mixologist Julian Cox (responsible for masterminding the bar programs at popular LA spots including Las Perlas and the now-shuttered Barrel & Ashes) oversees the drinks program at Fanny’s, a restaurant set in the Academy of Museum of Motion Pictures. Fittingly, cocktails are named for critically acclaimed films and Oscar winners. Case in point: the Parasite—a tribute to the acclaimed South Korean film—made with soju, rye, vermouth, gochujang, and bird’s eye chile. If drinks turn into dinner, choose between elegant New American plates such as whole sea bream with matcha hollandaise and spinach linguine with green asparagus. Fun fact: the bar and restaurant are supported by Wendy Stark Morrissey, granddaughter of comedian Fanny Brice (for whom the restaurant is named).

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Bar Jackalope (Downtown)

This hidden whiskey lounge in the back of Seven Grand bar provides mellow and moody vibes for a sexy night out. The 18-seat bar specializes in more than 120 varieties of Japanese whisky, and there’s even an outdoor cigar lounge. Expect classics on the cocktail menu, including expertly prepared old fashioneds and manhattans. This is the place for an intimate drinking experience and a whiskey crash-course—minus the crowds.

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Dan Sung Sa (Koreatown)

This Korean tavern is the quintessential hangout spot for feasting on grilled meat skewers and soups while letting bottles of soju and beer pile up in the corner of the table. Angelenos flock to the dimly lit Dan Sung Sa for a transformative experience: Its wooden door reveals large booths, graffiti-splattered walls, and a slim alley teeming with closely gathered tables. Inspired by pojangmachas or Korean street pubs, the bar exudes a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that has been captured by very few other LA bars and is a portal to downtown Seoul.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Lisa Kwon is a reporter and writer focused on arts and food culture in Los Angeles, CA. Find Lisa on Instagram and Twitter.

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