We can all agree that Los Angeles is a swanky city. Most places you go are naturally pristine and glamorous, one of the city’s hallmarks. On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of places are intentionally greasy, like some Silver Lake hairline. Things are either far too pretty or far too dirty: both are façades to create a sense of “cool,” “swank.”
Such airs are common and, even though different, are essentially the same. This gets you to thinking: do real grungy places exist in Hollywood? Do dive bars even exist out here? Well, yes and no.
Real dive bars do exist; but, like all things L.A., they are primped to a certain degree. Thus, we’ve compiled a list of ten Hollywood dives you should know about, in order of least divey to most divey. All of these places are very intimate, nearly standing room-only, bars that are fairly affordable and definitely all have their own characteristics. If you want a low key drink, don’t want too much pretense, these are places you can go to where it’s possible everyone may know your name. [Photo via]
1. The Woods
A dive with a makeover, The Woods is the gem of a North La Brea strip mall. Sandwiched between a liquor store and a Middle Eastern restaurant, the place is very unassuming and mysterious. Inside, though, you will find a very cool place. Wooded walls and a warm candle light glow, this place is occasionally the stomping ground for some celebrities, decent DJs, and a seemingly homeless man who sells bunny rabbits outside. The drinks are good and reasonably priced and you're guaranteed to have a good time. But, don't let the outdoorsy title and dive nature let you get too casual: they're very strict on dress code and behavior.
2. The Well
The Woods' sister, The Well is nearly as nice--but, is known for its great Happy Hour (5PM - 9PM, $4 - $6 drinks). Tucked away, with the Nickelodeon on Sunset studios in direct sight, this bar is a box with semi-awkward wall seating. It's fairly low key and has a warmer vibe than its sister, who seems to have a big chip on her shoulder about things. Beyond location, overall vibe, and Happy Hour, The Well and The Woods are not very different at all. The Well just needs to work on getting its own bunny man...
Practically a hallway next to Delancey, The Mission Cantina is part Mexican restaurant, part Mexican bar: it is a dive that belongs South of the border. With hundreds of tequilas to choose from, it’s a distilled version of Malo, serving up equally splendid margaritas (even by the pitcher!) and their own dollar taco night ($1 Taco Tuesdays!). Their affordable menu is the perfect bar food for you to ring up at a moment’s notice, should you feel you need to balance out your tequila intake. The Mission Cantina is definitely a place you can stop into just for a drink, but is the closest thing on this list to a dive-bar-with-a-full-kitchen.
4. The Bar
This is a mysterious place: there doesn’t seem to be any particular theme, mentality, or name here besides “The Bar.” Thus, the glory that is The Bar, located on Sunset at Bronson beneath Hotel St. Moritz (who is desperately begging for a boutique hotel makeover). Typically filled with attractive people, some chain smokers in the back, hot female bartenders, and a DJ mixing semi-ironic tunes a little too loudly, this dark bar is quite the scene on weekends and quickly fills up. However, this alleyway of a bar can be quite the cute location for a drink date during the week.
5. Piano Bar
Hidden away from the Hollywood scene on Cahuenga, Piano Bar gathers all of the Hollyweirds together to listen to live music. This dark place is known for its blues and cheap, strong drinks as well as being the stomping ground of many different local cultures. A direct result of its history, this once very unappealing bar has become quite cool in its being flipped by the fantastic Houston Twins. Yet, even though it was revamped, the bar has still clung on to its divey past. Depending on which night you go, you are likely to slide right back into its yesteryears, bluesy twang included.
6. Three Clubs
Three Clubs is a very mysterious bar. Firstly, it is the darkest bar on this list: there is literally one light above the bartender—the rest of the lighting is left to small candles on each table and dim, dim, dim side lighting. Secondly, it doubles as a bar and a venue. Like The Bar, Three Clubs' only real theme is its being dark and divey. One word of advice: bring quarters and play something on the jukebox. Otherwise, the place is really, really, really quiet on an empty night.
7. Tiki Ti
We all know and love Tiki Ti. But, no one really takes it seriously: does a tiki bar sound all that interesting to you? Well, if it doesn't, you're lame. With the most attitude on the list, Tiki Ti doesn’t give a shit who you are or why you are here: just bring your cash, order your island drink, smoke your indoor cigarettes, and GTFO. Only capable of holding, maybe, thirty people, Tiki Ti is slightly the obnoxious dive in L.A.—but, it has the right to be: the bar has been around since 1961 and privately owned. Talk about putting on airs... [Photo via]
If any bar could be confused for your German grandmother’s basement, flooded in red light, it would be Whitehorse Inn Cocktail Lounge. Housed underneath the Super 8 on Western, Whitehorse Inn Cocktail Lounge is virtually empty during the week but fills up beyond belief during the weekend, oftentimes to the point of a wait outside. A cash-only bar, we would be remiss if we did not mention the bar’s hallmark: the older German woman that owns the bar and serves as bartender. She is known to force microwaved hot dogs, crackers, cubed cheese, Tootsie Rolls, and other assorted candies on you. Drunk German grandmother? YES, PLEASE.
Coach and Horses is a hallway, regardless of which way you stack it: it is a hallway that serves bottled (bottled?!?) PBR you have to pay for with cash. The staff is very nice and the clientele is very, very neighborhoody and friendly. That being said, Coach and Horses is a lot of fun if you can tolerate standing in a hallway that gets a little bit too loud and approaches a part of Sunset that you don’t necessarily want to be.
10. Power House
By far the diviest and most random bar to grace Los Angeles, Power House is located on the Northeast block of Hollywood and Highland (!?!?!?!!). Filled with a brilliantly grungy crowd of locals and, somehow, keeping out the touristy riff raff, Power House is Hollywood's most authentic dive. They have dart boards, a jukebox, a mean doorman, cheap beer—what doesn’t sound appealing about this place? It’s truly a misplaced gem that you would never guess was across the street from a Gap. Power House is the must dive of Hollywood dives.
SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR LOS ANGELES DIVE CRAWL: