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The 15 Best Dive Bars In Los Angeles
Sometimes you want to go where the drinks are cheap and strong and nobody really cares what your name is. Thankfully, Los Angeles offers plenty of great divey watering holes where you can happily lose a few hours without spending much. From dimly-lit, raucous joints to rough-around-the-edges neighborhood locals that open early in the morning, here are our favorite dive bars in L.A. (And as you'd expect, many of these spots are cash-only.)
If you're willing to risk getting jabbed by a pool stick while singing karaoke and drinking cheap bottles of Miller High Life, then this dive's for you. From the sassy/surly staff and seasoned regulars to the dim lighting and well-worn decor, Smog Cutter has all the charm of a neighborhood local that doesn't really care if you like it or not. The place can get packed as the weekend nights wear on, so come early if you want to sing or snag a stool. And don't forget to bring cash.
Smog Cutter is located at 864 N Virgil Ave, East Hollywood.
Once a favorite haunt for the Rat Pack and Hollywood's Golden Era stars, this reliable Santa Monica dive still maintains plenty of class. If you're in the mood for cold beer, quiet conversation, and throwing peanut shells over your shoulder, Chez Jay is the place. You might not beat the longtime regulars to a stool at the bar, but there's still plenty of tables in the cozy, dark bar or you can head out to the recently revamped patio to enjoy some sun. As an added bonus, their menu is pretty solid with great steaks that have kept locals coming back for years.
Chez Jay is located at 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, (310) 395-1741.
Drinking buddies at Lost & Found (via Facebook)
LOST & FOUND
While some early risers may be grabbing bagels next door, the dedicated regulars at this classic strip mall dive are already lined up at the bar. With a 6 a.m. opening, Lost & Found is a reliable, cash-only watering hole for strong, cheap drinks and a laid-back, friendly vibe. There's pool table and a solid, classic rock-heavy jukebox for entertainment, or you can just mind your own at the bar and test out your trivia knowledge on the cocktail napkins.
Lost & Found is located at 11700 National Blvd, Mar Vista, (310) 397-7772
Cold beer and a burger at Hinano Cafe (via Facebook)
Just down the street from the beach, this Venice stalwart is the perfect place to escape the sunshine and throw back a few cheap cold ones. Inside you'll find plenty of salty locals, a few pool tables, sawdust on the floor, a good beer selection and a really solid cheeseburger that's not to be missed. Pints are around $5 to $6 and you can get a pitcher for $15 or $17, depending on the beer. Plus they often have live music on the weekends—though it can get pretty crowded. Bring cash.
Hinano Cafe is located at 15 W. Washington Blvd, Venice, (310) 822-3902.
CLUB TEE GEE
This Atwater Village haunt is about as no-frills as a dive bar gets. And while you won't find karaoke or free popcorn, there is a dart board, jukebox, a few TVs, and inexpensive, potent drinks. Club Tee Gee has served as a refuge since 1946 and hasn't had much in the way of a revamp since sometime in the 70s it seems—including the gold-glittered green ceiling—and we're just fine with that.
Club Tee Gee is located at 3210 Glendale Blvd, Atwater Village, (323) 669-9631.
Another bastion of cheap and strong pours that opens at 6 a.m., The Drawing Room remains a solidly divey destination despite efforts to the contrary around the neighborhood. Order up a drink, put in your requests at the jukebox and settle in to a worn, plush booth. You can also try your hand at the "fancy" electronic dart board in the back. Definitely bring hard currency and prepare to lose a few hours in this dark and red-hued cavern of a bar.
The Drawing Room is located at 1800 Hillhurst Ave, Los Feliz, (323) 665-0135.
TATTLE TALE ROOM
Another great dive bar for karaoke, this Culver City classic is perfect for cutting loose without breaking the bank. It's also another spot that opens at 6 a.m., so if you're looking to avoid the crowds, you can always come early. You'll encounter stiff pours and tallboy cans of beer, and while there's no food, you can always bring something in to balance out the booze. The crowd tends to be pretty diverse, ranging from older locals to newcomers, and things usually get pretty lively. The bar is, after all, officially known as Roger's Exciting Tattle Tale Room.
The Tattle Tale Room is located at 5401 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, (310) 390-2489.
THE SCARLET LADY SALOON
One can hardly mention the Tattle Tale Room without also raising a glass to the equally-divey—if not slightly more cheery—neighbor, The Scarlett Lady. You'll also find karaoke most nights, pool tables, dart boards and games, and oh yes, cheap cocktails and pitchers of beer. If you're lucky, the staff may even bring in some free food to feed the boozy crowd of regulars.
The Scarlet Lady Saloon is located at 5411 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, (310) 391-9079.
A quiet night at the Frolic Room (Photo by J. Jakobson via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
THE FROLIC ROOM
This classic Hollywood haunt is still a refuge for the neighborhood's drinkers—both young and old. You'll find plenty of cheap, cold beer and strong, non-craft cocktails served up by vested bartenders decades older than most in the area. Rumor has it that the bar used to be a speakeasy for the adjoining Pantages Theatre during Prohibition. The bar hasn't changed much since the last remodel in 1963—including that amazing mural of caricatured stars—and we're hoping it stays that way.
The Frolic Room is located at 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, (323) 462-5890
THE COLORADO BAR
This Pasadena favorite keeps things simple and the drinks inexpensive. They've got a great jukebox and plenty of tables perfect for catching up with friend over strong drinks. They've also got a couple of pool tables and feature the occasional live band. In classic dive fashion, there are no windows, so you can easily—and happily—lose track of time.
The Colorado Bar is located at 2640 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, Phone number (626) 449-3485
Afternoon beers at Ercolés (Photo by Danny Jensen/LAist)
This Manhattan Beach institution since opening in 1927, and still maintains plenty of its original charms. Order up a cheap bottle of beer or a stiff drink and settle in to a booth to catch a game on the TVs or just wile away the day. There's also a pool table in back if you want to try your luck against the regulars. Should you get hungry, they serve up a delicious griddle-cooked burger that is really worth a try and you can get a $1 Dodger Dog when a game is on. And on Wednesdays, you can get two burgers for the price of one when you buy two drinks—just be sure to bring your cash.
Ercolés is located at 1101 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, (310) 372-1997
We'd consider the Monte Carlo to be a true dive, operating out of a single small room right on 3rd St., near Vermont. If you're looking for frills, hit up the nearby Lock & Key for its extensive craft cocktail selection. If you're looking for a place to chill without fanfare and watch the condensation form on a glass of cold poison, go to Monte Carlo. It's very much just a bar, and it's not too clean. It's got a diverse jukebox, cheap drinks, an old pool table and worn-in stools for contemplating life's questions. Bring cash. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Monte Carlo is located at 3514 W 3rd Street in Koreatown.
The Speak Easy cocktail bar (via Facebook)
THE SPEAK EASY
It's rare to find a Santa Monica bar so uncomplicated and low-key, but The Speak Easy is the one. Don't let the name fool you: there's no password here or hidden door, and you're better off with a whiskey-ginger than an old-timey drink that requires a muddler. A couple of pool tables, a jukebox, and a long wooden bar will greet you as you walk into the dark bar. No-nonsense bartenders offer up stiff drinks for a cheap price here, and the crowd varies between twenty-somethings and retirees. It also opens every day at 10 a.m. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
The Speak Easy is located at 1326 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, 310-450-4989.
A toasty, cozy neighborhood dive (Photo via Facebook)
This Sherman Oaks dive can be a lot of fun. The drinks are strong and cheap, and they have a decent selection of bottled and draft beers. You can grab a seat at the bar or one of the many plush booths, including one near the fireplace. It's not a bad place to camp out during the day if you need to get some work done. It's usually quiet, and has Wi-Fi. At night, the crowd picks up and there's usually a good sample of confident, if not talented, singers for karaoke. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Chimneysweep is located at 4354 Woodman Ave. in Sherman Oaks, 818-783-3348
Pool at Frank N Hank (via Facebook)
FRANK 'N HANK
The perfect spot for a nightcap after stuffing yourself silly with Beer Belly's duck fat fries or seeing a concert at the Wiltern, this classic Koreatown dive has retained its classic, grimy charm despite being in the nouveau-glitz and glamour of its surroundings. Beer Belly's Jimmy Han took over the spot in October and beefed up the liquor selection and added a little polish to some of the furnishings (they even take credit card now!), but the carpet is still fairly dingy and the pool table' felt still has the same scuffs. The drinks might cost a dollar extra, but whatever it takes to keep Frank 'N Hank around. —Carman Tse
Frank 'N Hank is located at 518 S Western Avenue, Koreatown, (213) 383-2087.