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Looking for less mainstream, but awesome bars in LA

m
miche2 Aug 9, 2012 06:47 PM

I'm going on my first trip to LA (for business) with 3 other coworkers, and I'm trying to get a couple of options together. Looking for some less mainstream bars that only LA natives would know of. Not necessarily dive-y or a hole in the wall; I'm aiming for super cool, swanky, awesome cocktails, intimate... food would be bonus, but not a must.

Also, I'm trying to gather some options for great restaurants. One of our group wants to go to Bottega Louie, as it's her favorite so we've got that down. Two of us don't like sushi and generally aren't crazy about Asian. I love trying new things and am totally not picky.

We'll be staying at the Millenium Biltmore, walking distance from the office, and we won't mind venturing out at night but we'd like to stay pretty much downtown.

Any suggestions would be awesome! Thank you in advance to anyone who replies!

  1. g
    gachimai Aug 9, 2012 08:17 PM

    Its not downtown, but Oldfield's in Culver City is really cool. Chill vibe, wasn't a club like atmosphere, more of an old school feel.

    1. l
      latindancer Aug 9, 2012 09:33 PM

      The Varnish....downtown LA. You really can't get any better, IMHO.

      4 Replies
      1. re: latindancer
        TonyC Aug 9, 2012 10:32 PM

        It just won TOTC best bar of America. That is about as mainstream (read: hipster) cocktail as it comes. There's quaint, and there's claustrophobic.

        For WeHo hotness and a view, Eveleigh. For a quainter Hollywood, The Pikey. For the latest/greatest, The Parish, DTLA.

        Unknown "super cool, swanky" bar with "awesome cocktails" does not exist in LA. As an alternative, you could chose awesome restaurant bars -- Hungry Cat, Jar, Lucques, and Providence all have very capable bar keeps.

        1. re: TonyC
          l
          latindancer Aug 10, 2012 06:51 AM

          The Pikey

          1. re: latindancer
            k
            kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:20 AM

            pikey has good food too, and is it next door to a samuel french bookstore, i thought i noticed it driving by the non-officially strip section of Sunset.

          2. re: TonyC
            l
            latindancer Aug 10, 2012 10:09 AM

            <Unknown "super cool, swanky" bar with 'awesome cocktails" does not exist in LA.>

            Just a hunch...
            Subjective for sure, but I think what you find 'super cool' and what I find is 'super cool' might be miles apart.

        2. h
          happybaker Aug 9, 2012 10:18 PM

          Border Grill downtown has some tasty cocktails.

          Folks speak highly of The Edison but I've never been.

          Chaya's bar (downtown) is fun and with great food and wine. I have not had their mixed drinks.

          You won't make it there (too far) but Sedthee Thai in Glendale has amazing drinks. Their elixir, with vodka, coconut liquor, fresh lemongrass and herbs is stunning - and I can't believe i can get it in Glendale!

          OH and the revamped coles is getting good marks for it's cocktails - go there for iconic fun : )

          How about The Standard's rooftop bar, for ubercool fun?

          http://www.standardhotels.com/downtown-la/food-drink/the-rooftop

          http://www.yelp.com/biz/coles-los-ang...

          1. westsidegal Aug 9, 2012 10:28 PM

            just as a general rule:
            << less mainstream bars that only LA natives would know of>>
            rarely serve
            << super cool, swanky, awesome cocktails>>

            not too many secrets around here. . . . .
            most of the time, when someplace really good opens, it is jammed by week 2.
            there is a lot of pent up demand for something awsome.

            also, re: bottega louie,
            the take of that place is decidely mixed,
            ANDit is far from being a place that is "less mainstream."

            1. ipsedixit Aug 9, 2012 10:39 PM

              Cole's?

              5 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit
                TonyC Aug 9, 2012 10:51 PM

                smells like downers cow thanks to beef dip.

                1. re: TonyC
                  l
                  latindancer Aug 10, 2012 07:08 AM

                  Well, with that description, who would go there?
                  I've never heard Cole's described like that and lots would disagree.

                  1. re: latindancer
                    Servorg Aug 10, 2012 08:49 AM

                    I think the term "downer" better applies to TC's post and not any cow in question...

                    1. re: Servorg
                      k
                      kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:21 AM

                      for what it's worth, i liked the old Cole's better when it was a tadbit filthier and decrepit. and some of the regulars actually looked like they had been glued to their barstools.

                  2. re: TonyC
                    ipsedixit Aug 10, 2012 08:31 AM

                    A couple of sazeracs and those downers will start smelling like roses.

                2. m
                  MarkC Aug 9, 2012 11:42 PM

                  I'm not a barfly, but happened to be downtown in Pershing Square looking at some office space in an atmospheric old art deco-looking building. They had a great looking rooftop bar called Perch, with fabulous views, which is relatively new on the L.A. scene. Not sure that it is "super cool", to me that means tourists and posers, but it seemed like a classy place, and the space is fantastic. Relatively less known than other haunts, but by no means undiscovered.

                  www.perchla.com.

                  1. v
                    vegetablelasagna Aug 10, 2012 07:41 AM

                    Pretty mainstream at this point, but Seven Grand is a cool spot, and right across the street from Bottega C.K.

                    Other spots (again, not sure if too mainstream but cool. Downtown LA spots at the top, marked with the word "Downtown"...)

                    Golden Gopher -- Downtown
                    Broadway Bar -- Downtown
                    The Down And Out -- Downtown
                    Casey's Irish Bar -- Downtown
                    Bar 107 -- Downtown
                    The York -- Highland Park
                    Verdugo Bar -- Glassell Park
                    Eagle Rock Brewery -- Glassell Park
                    The Bigfoot Lodge -- Atwater
                    HMS Bounty -- Koreatown
                    The Alibi Room (home of Kogi tacos) -- Culver City
                    The Brig -- Venice

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: vegetablelasagna
                      y
                      yogachik Aug 10, 2012 08:15 AM

                      After Bottega Louie, walk to Golden Gopher or Broadway Bar. Seven Grand is also a great suggestion, and right across the street.

                      If on westside, 3110, Brig, Penthouse at Huntley, Whist at Viceroy.

                      1. re: yogachik
                        l
                        latindancer Aug 10, 2012 09:55 AM

                        The greatest of all and sorely, sorely missed....

                        Babe's and Ricky's Inn/Leimert Park.
                        In places like this it's always nice to remember this coolest of cool Blues bar.
                        So sad.

                        1. re: latindancer
                          k
                          kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:25 AM

                          i heard they served pretty good fried chicken too. but i never really hung out that often at leimert park, usually my main reason to go there for years was to go to Phillip's but now i usually just go to the one off of the 10 Fwy bc it's just much more convenient.

                          has babe's and ricky's resurfaced anywhere else ?

                          thanks.

                          1. re: kevin
                            l
                            latindancer Aug 10, 2012 03:42 PM

                            I'm afraid not.

                            The Leimert Park area is full of great finds...and if it resurfaced I can't think of anywhere it'd fit the same as it did there.
                            There was just this history about the place and Laura Mae that was iconic (she passed on @89) still running it. The fried chicken, the catfish, the collard greens and the cornbread....all delicious along with the best blues anywhere in LA.

                          2. re: latindancer
                            b
                            burntwater Aug 10, 2012 04:00 PM

                            That's a blast from the past we use to hang at Babe and Ricky's when they were at their original location.

                            The coolest of the cool bars was even cooler when it was on Central

                            Chicken night was great. Admission was one dollar and you got a ticket that included the chicken dinner.

                            1. re: burntwater
                              l
                              latindancer Aug 10, 2012 09:25 PM

                              <The coolest of the cool bars was even cooler when it was on Central>

                              The memories and stories you must have :).
                              Such history.

                          3. re: yogachik
                            k
                            kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:24 AM

                            I've neer been to the Varnish before, but what would you guys order there ?

                            And when is a good time to go when it's not too busy ? So I don't have to wait three-deep at the bar for a drink that may never arrive. Sometimes some joints just seem liking i'm waiting for godot...

                            1. re: kevin
                              l
                              linus Aug 10, 2012 03:09 PM

                              what to order? tell the nice lady server what sort of things you like and have the bartender make dealer's choice. when to go? during the week it's less crowded. get there at 8 p.m. when it opens. you can't stand at the bar, so you don't have to worry about that.
                              your drink will take a bit longer than you're probably used to to arrive.

                          4. re: vegetablelasagna
                            k
                            kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:23 AM

                            i really like the down and out in that grungey, kind of skid row-ish type of way. the mug shuts, blown up and plastered behind the bar are pretty classic too.

                            1. re: kevin
                              l
                              latindancer Aug 10, 2012 03:54 PM

                              LOL...

                              I agree. I prefer the same opposed to the genteel type of bar so many appear to prefer.
                              But of course I know people from the westside who've never ever been downtown to experience some of these places you're describing. And they've vowed they never will.

                              1. re: kevin
                                Servorg Aug 10, 2012 04:31 PM

                                Charles? Charles Bukowski Jr.? Is that really you? ;-D>

                                1. re: kevin
                                  b
                                  burntwater Aug 10, 2012 09:04 PM

                                  You missed the window...

                                  All the gentrified bars like Golden Gopher use to be real.
                                  Back then you could hit up the Kenmore, Crabby Joes and the 'Toro all in one night of boozing.

                                  1. re: burntwater
                                    l
                                    latindancer Aug 10, 2012 09:27 PM

                                    I want those days back again in Los Angeles.

                              2. Johnny Pastrami Aug 10, 2012 08:03 PM

                                For a $25 cab ride, transport you & your friends to mid-century LA at the Tiki Ti. Not swanky, but strong tropical drinks in a tiny venue -- a true classic. Cash only. Call first to make sure they're open. Beware: their drinks pack a wallop. Get a couple Ray's Mistakes and have fun.

                                4427 West Sunset Boulevard
                                Los Angeles, CA 90027
                                (323) 669-9381

                                http://www.tiki-ti.com/

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Johnny Pastrami
                                  h
                                  happybaker Aug 10, 2012 10:24 PM

                                  Beware those drinks! Beware!

                                  Strong like ox but oh so fun : )

                                  1. re: Johnny Pastrami
                                    k
                                    kevin Aug 10, 2012 10:47 PM

                                    they are decent, i'm overdue on a visit but usually it's too busy unless going on a week night right when they open.

                                  2. ellaystingray Aug 11, 2012 02:15 AM

                                    I think I understand the kind of places you are looking for. However, it is a little difficult to know for sure how much some one from out of town would or would not know about certain joints in L.A. in these days of the internets. But here is another stab at downtown.

                                    BARS
                                    Villain's (food)
                                    The Falls (no food)
                                    Harvard & Stone (no food)

                                    RESTAURANTS
                                    Lazy Ox
                                    Church & State
                                    Rivera
                                    Drago Centro

                                    Enjoy!

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