Los Angeles is a city with many sides. It is super casual but also very trendy. From kicking back at the beach to putting on the glitter for a Hollywood night out to showing your Vogue side in Beverly Hills.
A fun night out in L.A. could be tapping into a local beer, or listening to a band play overlooking the water, or margaritas and salsa dancing in a packed downtown club, or a posh lounge in West Hollywood. But no matter what you decide, or maybe everything, it’s all good.
After drinks and dancing, the perfect end to a perfect night is coffee at one of our uber cafes or a Pink’s hotdog on La Brea Ave., or fries in one of our all night diners. In L.A. you should always tip at least 15%, even at the bar. A little flirting may even get you premium service.
Here is my list for top night spots in Los Angeles. They may not all be the trendiest, but they are the best according to the locals like me. Which means may sometimes be expensive and they may sometimes be crowded, and most of the time pretty good. Remember this is L.A. so what we call cheap may still seem expensive to an outsider. To save money, check ahead and see if they have a happy hour.
And keep your eyes open because you never know when someone famous is sitting right next to you.
#1 Hyde Lounge
Located near the heart of Sunset Strip, Hyde is a smaller club that maxes out its occupancy at 100 people. Hyde is considered one of L.A.’s “Top of the line” clubs and being small makes it feel more selective. The first floor lounge offers a seductive environment with candles illuminating the walls and a vaulted copper ceiling overhead. The bar boasts a menu of Asian tapas and fusion dishes, ranging from inventive sushi rolls to salmon sashimi. I’ve also heard the Cucumber Melon Margaritas and Watermelon Mojitos are excellent.
A simple DJ booth, dressed-up with Mac-mixing machine and heavy tech-equipment, features rotating rock DJs. Good music, but typically no one dances. A lot of the people who frequent Hyde’s are in the industry, or trying to break into the industry. It’s considered a celebrity “Who’s who” hang out because it is so intimate. This is where Hollywood residents play.
Arrive on the early side to avoid waiting in long lines. Parking is valet and cocktails run about $14. Attire is dressy.
#2 The Standard Rooftop Bar
The Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A. features a fantastic rooftop bar. The Standard is a bit pricey but swanky compared to less expensive bars and attracts many wannabe actors. There is also a West Hollywood boutique hotel on Sunset with a club lounge known for its funky décor. Egg-shaped seats hang from the ceiling and in the lobby a woman enclosed in a plastic cage sits reading a book while she ignores everyone walking by.
The Downtown version features a rooftop bar with amazing views overlooking the entire city. You’re surrounded by city lights everywhere you turn. Lots of heat lamps and a fire pit to keep everyone warm and lots of plush lounge seats everywhere. I love the red pods by the pool.
The DJ doesn’t play dance music, but more relaxing music to keep the conversations flowing. There is a dance floor and sometimes people will start grooving as the night progresses. You may recognize Standard from movies and television shows that filmed here, like Bones.
The Standard has everything that makes this so L.A. – the social scene, the music, the dancing, the crowd, city lights and the open air.
No cover on weekdays. $20 weekend cover starting after 7PM. Drinks are typical L.A. expensive. Parking Tip: save yourself the trouble and park underneath the hotel for $15. If Standard seems too pricey, check out #5 Bar 107 just down the street.
#3 El Carmen
Nothing beats the tequilas and tacos at El Carmen. It’s been said the south-of-the-border décor could have been designed by “Twin Peaks” director David Lynch because of the mounted bull heads and black velvet paintings of Mexican wrestlers covering the walls. This place stands out because of its unique art and tequila. The music filled ambiance also makes El Carmen a lot of fun. This hot spot was also featured on the HBO show Entourage.
This place is one of my favorite spots in LA. El Carmen is an unassuming tequila bar/restaurant tucked away on 3rd St. in the Mid-City/West Hollywood area. The entrance is just a plain door with a small awning and an old neon sign above it, but the tacos, insane tequila selection and Mexican wrestler decor make El Carmen stand out above the rest.
Their bar has every kind of tequila imaginable, complete with a tequila sampler and a novel-size list of margaritas. Try the jalapeno and the cilantro-ginger margaritas. Or if you want to go safer, try the pomegranate and blood orange margaritas which are popular. This place is great for happy hour, a light dinner or also for late night munchies. The menu has a variety of options like nachos, ceviche, flautas sweet corn tamales and carnitas tacos.
Prices are very reasonable at $4.25 for a taco. Street parking available all though you may have to walk a bit.
#4 Conga Room
This is a great place for salsa dancing or even just dancing. I recommend the restaurant next door for a classy dinner first, followed by dancing and drinks at the Conga Room afterwards to burn it off.
Atmosphere is wonderful with a sizable dance floor. Depending on when you go they have DJs and live music for dancing. It’s also great watching couples dance who know what they’re doing. There are also VIP areas and a balcony that overlook all of Nokia Live and the Staples Center. Also a smaller hip hop room for dancing. Great place for a good night of music and fun. Ambience is trendy.
Garage for parking around $7. $20 cover after 11PM. I believe if you eat at the restaurant next door they waive the club cover. Mixed drinks at the club will run you about $12.
#5 Bar 107
Bar 107 is considered a quality dive bar in Downtown L.A. right off Spring Street. Beer is cheap. They also serve PBR tall cans for $5. Also known as Pabst Blue Ribbon or the People’s Brew. This is your typical trendy dive bar.
They have karaoke during the week. Wednesday nights, they even allow random humans to get on stage and sing into a microphone in a ritual they call “gong show karaoke”. Like American Idol you laugh at the weak and applaud those with some talent.
On the weekends, this place gets super crowded with a younger audience, leaving little room to move. They also have a photo booth in the back in case you want to capture the moment. A DJ spins loud music and they have a decent sized dance floor.
Parking on the street but can be a nightmare to find a spot. This is really true everywhere in Los Angeles.
#6 Naja’s Place
Naja’s Place is located right on the Redondo Beach boardwalk. Their motto is “Fear no beer”. And as their motto suggests, they have a wide variety of beers on tap from all over the world. They also feature live bands. When you need some fresh air, you can walk along the pier.
They have a big white board featuring the beers they have on tap. From something new like New Belgium Summer Salt, Black Market Brown, Bayhawk Honey Blond to traditional like Newcastle, Miller or Bud. And even a few house wines if beer isn’t your thing. Naja’s is perfect place to hang out with friends for beer and music.
Attire is casual and there is a parking garage that will run you about $7. I highly recommend one of the restaurants on the pier followed by Naja’s for a night cap. Also great during the day for an afternoon beer while watching the ocean and boardwalk activity.
#7 The Hideout
Like the name suggests, the Hideout is hidden in an alley off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Santa Monica and Malibu. Park your car on the oceanside bluff and cross the street to what looks like a beach shack. Once inside, it may take your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the nearly pitch-black main room. The dress code is not as strict as most L.A. clubs and the people who frequent The Hideout tend to prefer hiking and playing volleyball to shopping.
The Hideout is good for a more relaxed time. Bar is somewhat small and dark but nice ambience. There’s also a nice covered outside area for hanging out with couches and heaters. It looks like a separate room but once you walk out there you realize it’s an outside patio.
On the weekend they have a DJ and people sometimes get up and dance. You’re either laughing or too drunk to care. During the week they have karaoke. They also make a mean martini. This place gets a lot of regular customers. It’s a fun place to just hang out.
There’s street and $5 valet parking. No cover but you make up for it with drinks that run a little more and valet if you can’t find free parking on the street. A glass of wine runs about $10.
#8 Howl at the Moon
This is such a fun place. Located on the Universal City Walk you can make a night by staying in one place. Great choices for dinner and then come back to Howl at the Moon for drinks and entertainment.
The two dueling pianos are always entertaining. The music is loud, the musicians get the crowd going and have a blast doing it. Live entertainment is high-energy and centered around audience participation. Musicians perform songs from the 70′s, 80′s, 90′s, and today like Lady Gaga on the pianos. Sometimes they’ll take audience requests. They can’t always sing all the notes to every song, but it’s still fun and silly.
Jello shots are great and served in giant souvenir plastic syringes. The servers then shoot them into your mouth and top it off with whipped cream. It can get a little crowded on the weekends, but it is still a lot of fun.
$10 to park at City Walk and cover charge on the weekends.
#9 Geisha House
The Geisha House is a modern Japanese Restaurant, Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge that infuses the flavor of traditional Japanese sake bars along with being hip for its trendier and more sophisticated L.A. clientele. They serve Japanese cuisine, fresh sushi, and sashimi dishes with a contemporary spin.
The people, the food, the bar scene, and the decor are all exciting and unique with a little bit of sexy and romantic. Geisha House definitely caters to a late night crowd. Most people arrive well after 8PM. This is probably true for most of the L.A. spots.
Parking is valet and food and drinks run a bit pricey. But this should be expected for the location, ambience and quality. Attire is more dressy then some of the others on this list, but that’s also part of the appeal.
Great place for people watching and feeling like you’re part of the “In” crowd.
#10 Dragonfly Bar
The Dragonfly Bar is considered one of L.A.’s hipper venues. What’s nice is the location. Not as noisy and crowded as typical L.A. clubs. They offer multi-sectioned bars with cozy patios.
Dragonfly is a decent size… not too big and not too small. There’s a main room with a stage, along the sides are booths, couches in the main room and benches all along the outside patio with heaters. You appreciate ample sitting areas when many L.A. clubs and bars are standing room only. Also have a DJ stage.
Great place for drinks and music.
Parking on the street or valet. Prices are moderate.
#11 Dillon’s Irish Pub Grill
Great atmosphere, reasonably priced beer and great late night food to indulge your cravings. $3 pints and about 37 different beers on tap, including world class beers like Racer and Stone. Also have a weekday happy hour.
Dillion’s is not your traditional Irish pub but again this is Hollywood. I dare you to find avocado fries in Ireland. This is why L.A. has the reputation we have.
They get super crowded on the weekends. But in my opinion it makes the place more fun.
Steet and valet parking. Cheap beers and reasonably priced food, make this a fun place to hang out with friends.
So that’s it. This is just a sample of some of our best. Enjoy
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