Raising the Bar

Why is it so hard to find the right bar to hang in? Thereís a plethora of bars in Hollywood, but I have yet to find the one with the perfect vibe. Most are too loud, too expensive or too trendy for me to feel like itís my place. Of course, thatís probably because I need different hangs for different moods.
Thereís the ëletís all get together for happy hour and knock back a few with some good eats placeî whereís that bar? Does ìhappy hourî still even exist someplace that you can drink and eat on the cheap?
Then thereís the romanticÖbut please not too fussyÖ. ìletís have a drink and talkî translated into: ìletís have a drink and then maybe we can go back to mi casaî kinda place which has to be quiet enough to talk, warm enough to relax and the seating has to be just right so if you want to lean over and steal a kiss itís not an exercise in capsizing the table.
Then thereís the fun place where you can go and hang alone, maybe meet some interesting people without feeling like itís a meat market place. Try as I might, I just havenít found any of the aboveÖso Iím putting it out there. Any suggestions?

25 Replies to “Raising the Bar”

  1. i’m intersted in finding those types if bars in hollywood as well. hopefully someone with more experience in the area will post.

    there’s a couple of places in walking distance from my apartment that are ok but don’t necessarily fit into the types of places mentioned in the post…

    there is the white horse on western. located under a motel (i think) and looks sketchy but is a cool hang inside with a pool table. a neighborhood type place. also, there is the blue monkey bar on hollywood. i love that name. it’s a bit trendy and expensive but can be a cool spot to go out with friends from time to time. of course i usually end up there alone drinking whiskey in the corner. but i have fun doing it.

  2. When I used to live in Santa Monica, I grew to love O’Brien’s on Wilshire and 26th as a bar where ‘letís all get together for happy hour and knock back a few with some good eats’ place. The food ain’t that cheap though, but its good.

    Up the street is Q’s, where its a ‘fun place where you can go and hang alone, maybe meet some interesting people without feeling like itís a meat market place.’

    I dunno about romantic places though – maybe find a fun hotel bar? Maybe at the Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian on Sunset? But it gets kinda loud there too. But there’s an AWESOME view; that’s pretty romantic.

  3. I’ve always liked the HMS Bounty on Wilshire (between Western and Vermont). There are plenty of booths for “just two” drinking dates or for a gaggle of friends. Drinks aren’t as cheap as more divey places, but are fairly inexpensive (around $5). And if you get hungry, you can go into one of the Korean bars on the corner of the block for yummy snacks and soju.

  4. That settles it. I am opening a bar. I have been thinking about it for awhile. My initial motivation was the same as yours. I want a place I can go that is equally conducive to just hanging out or to having a blast, depending on what I am in the mood for. I want a place to go where I feel comfortable alone, with one or two friends or with a whole group. And this might be too specific, but I also want a place where I can take my laptop and write. I am sick to death of coffeehouses.

  5. The Well on Sunset at Argyle has a cheap happy hour. And the Cat and Fiddle has a very good patio, although I’m not sure what their happy rates are. Barbara’s at the Brewery has good snacks and a good happy hour (though no longer 2-for-1).

  6. I love going to the Red Lion in silverlake with big groups of people… three bars, big patio, giant boots of beer, sausages and, if you’re lucky, the guy at the keyboard downstairs will take requests. Also the bartenders are cute.

    The Good Luck bar, located at the worst intersection in Hollywood (Hollywood+Sunset+Virgil->Hillhurst) next to the Vista Theatre, and owned by the guy who owns Bar Marmont (i think), has a great atmosphere + jukebox. It gets pretty loud/crowded certain days (read: weekend), but there are a bunch of small booths where you can squeeze in and have a nice chat.

    Also, if you’re willing to leave Hollywood, the noBar in north hollywood (magnolia + cahuenga) also gets high marks from me for atmosphere + jukebox. And they have a pool table.

    The Mountain Bar, in Chinatown, is usually quiet enough for a chat. I likey a lot.

  7. I haven’t been to many bars because I don’t drink, but the favorite one that I have been to is The Roost, in Los Feliz. It’s the 3rd type on your list, the laid-back place where you can go and just hang. It’s pretty inundated with hipster kids on the weekends, though. BUT there is free popcorn and a pretty good jukebox.

  8. The Well, at the base of the Sunset Media Tower at Argyle and Sunset, has happy hour ($2 well drinks) from 5PM until 9pm. After that, it’s more of a clubby hangout, but less so than other Hollywood haunts like Daddy’s and Beauty Bar.

    Coach & Horses on Sunset has a low-key happy hour, and even after that has a conversational vibe. That’s my default “walk-and-get-a-drink” bar. Rock and roll jukebox, too.

  9. Wow! Great suggestions….and yes, Jay, I was thinking what it might be neccessary to go on a bar hopping mission to test different bars and report back. We might have to get a patrol posse together and survey over 2-3 nights.
    We can rate on $, vibe, romance, friendliness, music and talkability factors! Who’s in?

  10. agree w/ stan. no bar has turned into quite the scene, but its still really laid back on week nights and it has a jukebox to die for.

    big foot on los feliz blvd can be chill when they are playing those old 16mm films, but is often too loud/crowded.

    red lion is my bar of choice at the moment. it has great staff, a pianist that looks a lot like kenny loggins, good german beer (in 2 litre glass boots!) and dozens of little nooks and crannies in which to hide away.

    there’s a great little cantina type place across the street from where I work called The Cobra Lily, on Wilshire @ La Cienega. Great bartenders, a really really cute waitress, and AMAZING sweet potato fries. A little pricey, but still a quality place.

    the teegee on glendale blvd is pretty laid back too, and has darts.

    when i lived in boston, there was a place across the street from my apartment which had over 200 beers on tap, and i have yet to find a similar place here since i moved… any suggestions?

  11. Fathers Office on Montana in SM is a greta place if you’re looking for intresting beers and goood food (again with the sweet potato fries) can get very crowded thurs-sat but still a great place with a ton of good beers.

  12. I am in LOVE with the burgers and wine at Fathers Office…but it’s a trek for me ….so I don’t go often. It’s always so damn crowded too. But the burgers and sp fries make up for it.

  13. The bar at Pinot Hollywood is always an easy choice. Never packed, nice lounge in the back, decent Happy Hour prices… you can hang with one person or bring in an impromtu party.

  14. I am all for said mission. I’ve had the same problem – the only places I’ve really found that I like to drink at are either performance spots (Largo) or out-and-out dives (Bitter Redhead). Something in between would be nice…

  15. currently fond of downtown spots, especially the golden gopher. good for groups, couples, and singles. patrons order food delivered all the time too, so thats keen.

    also, mccormick and schmicks has the best happy hour food prices. a jumbo burger and fries for only $1.98??? insane. there is a one drink min.

    ciudad is both classy and yummy for happy hour, with its live music.

    i must admit tho, akbar is still my fav place for just a drink.

    note: never go to bars on weekends.

  16. Boardner’s on Cherokee in Hollywood has plenty of dark corners for making out.

    Downtown Los Angeles has Cole’s, which is never too loud, too expensive or too trendy, has good music, french-dip sandwiches and lots of dark corners too. The Lounge at the REDCAT has free wi-fi, decent drinks and free cheese. Ciudad has wonderful mojitos and caipirinhas but like Pinot, The Standard, and Golden Gopher – all pricey for drinking copious amounts but good for a few drinks, a date, or expense accounts. Hotel Figueroa rocks on so many levels. Score has great Bloody Marys and tunes and is the best gay latino bar (there’s a bathhouse just around the corner too). In Chinatown, there’s always Hop Louie and Grand Star, Little Tokyo has Albatross, an unbelievably cool geisha bar, and LiveJazz is make-out worthy with dark lighting, tres 80’s decor and yes, live jazz. Weiland’s has early and late night happy hour and decent grub but a lousy jukebox. Charlie O’s in the lobby of my building has ultracheap drinks, a dance floor, dark corners, good jukebox, and dive-y. If the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore puts the regulation-size challenge pool table back in, it would be perfect. Now, it’s just very posh and Greg the bartender is a class act. For pure 80’s kitsch, nothing tops the revolving bar at the top of the Bonaventure.

    Lighting is too bright for two at HMS Bounty, the Roost and Bigfoot Lodge are overrun by lameass hipsters so it’s time to take it back to the Rustic Inn. Smog Cutter for karaoke or not. Short Stop in Echo Park is a neighborhood bar with a good jukebox. El Coyote’s margaritas are good good good, like Brigitte Bardot.

    On the westside, Bob Burns for stiff drinks, live jazz and comfy booths. LAX’s Encounters has strong drinks, great atmosphere and people have sex in the bathrooms (now that’s a layover). Q sucks everywhere.

  17. I forgot about Pinot…it’s a good spot…and $1.99 for Burgers and Mccormick & Schmicks can’t be beat. that’s in Bev Hills right? Or is it downtown?
    Celia-you rock…Love the Red Cat connection, it sounds like you have this town wired…we may have to make you cruise director for the next get together. What I want to know is this: How do you KNOW people have sex in the bathrooms at Encounters. Bad Girl!

  18. To the person who suggested Re$iduals, you left out the dollar sign! I like that place too, mostly because I can walk there.

    Tammara, I’d totally be up for a bar exploring/rating trip, because most of the places mentioned are new to me.

  19. There are McCormick & Schmick’s both Downtown (can’t remember where) and in BH (end of Via Rodeo). I’ve been to both, though not for happy hour. I thought the food at the BH location was better. They also have locations in El Segundo, Irvine, and several other places.

    Ciudad (5th & Figueroa) has a good happy hour menu, but not much in the way of privacy.

  20. Tiki Ti on Sunset is one of my favorites. I adore the dad & son duo who run it; it actually has a real neighborhoody vibe while still having a tiki fun air to it. I stay away from crowded weekend nights. It’s hard to tell when it’s open; call ahead. The drinks are a little expensive, for me anyway (average around $8, 9) — but they’ll knock you on your ass, so you don’t need more than a one or two. And they taste fanastic. The best time to go is after work on Wednesday nights — $5 Ray Mistakes!

  21. I hesitate to point you here but FOOTSIES on Figueroa and Avenue 26 has a jukebox so good it’s almost like a Music Supervisor put it together as some sick little joke. Generally fairly empty with great bartenders that will never throw you out if you get so drunk you fall off a stool and dance clumsily to “No Scrubs” while spilling your drink all over the dancefloor. You will be banned, however, if you try and get into a fistfight with Greg Dulli…and you’ll be banned from the Shortstop too.

    Sometimes I meet for after work drinks at Ye Olde Rustic where you can order pitchers of Budweiser and giant sloppy steaming plates of wings. Forget about trying to get a booth on the weekends in the afternoon, though when the bar fills up with sports fans and the breakfast/bloody mary special draws the bleary eyed ghouls out from their caves.

    Barbara’s in the Brewery is good on week nights. Pabst is $2.00 and there’s food and retarded music courtesy of James & Mike. You can sit at the bar and evesdrop on the resident barflys (resident meaning they live in the live/work artist lofts) and the entire UPS staff at the UPS headquarters…oh the drama!

    Petes Cafe on 4th and Main is a great bar that hasn’t really been discovered yet. Cheap beer, delicious gourmet Mac & Cheese and Soups of the day. Music is ok and there are big plasma screens showing Dodgers games.

    Little Joy Jr. is a good dive…on Thursdays (I think it’s Thursdays…not sure) Anton from the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Jason from the Warlocks dj and do a live internet broadcast. A dump, but fun fun fun. Rather loud and a scene.

    If that’s giving you a headache, walk a block down and stop in the Shortstop. On days of Dodger games PBR is $1.00.

    Coming soon…the Airliner Club on Broadway in Lincoln Heights is finally grand re-opening. Reports from the trenches to follow.

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