While Los Angeles doesn’t skimp on gorgeous theaters, massive arenas, outdoor amphitheaters, and legendary Sunset Strip rock venues, sometimes you just want to wander into an uncomplicated watering hole with a live band. For those casual nights out, here are 12 bars that are sure to enchant both your taste buds and your ears.
The Mint has been around since 1937 and has seen the likes of Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, and The Wallflowers on its stage. The live music is the main draw here, but the kitchen – open until midnight most nights – offers reasonably priced sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, too. Most shows are under $15, while some have no cover at all.
Dark and cozy Casey’s began its life in 1916 as a Turkish bath house but has been an Irish pub since the late 1960s. Score traditional Irish fare, whiskey and beer, or play a game of darts or billiards. On weekend nights, expect the stage to come alive with live rock, indie, or folk music.
Opened by jazz singer Joon Lee in 2009, bluewhale is hidden on the third floor of the Weller Court Plaza in Little Tokyo. Guests can grab some food or a cocktail from the bar area (which has a fine selection of whiskey, scotch, and bourbon) before heading over to the performance area, where seats come in the form of cubes spread throughout the space.
Tucked into the Arts District, this retro watering hole offers accessible craft cocktails, great beer, and a charming vintage feel. Live bands take to the patio every night Villains is open. Acts tend to skew rock, indie, blues, rockabilly, and folk, and there’s no cover required for entry.
TRiP is a low-key bar that offers entertainment every night of the week, be it live bands, burlesque, trivia, or an open mic. Every Tuesday features live jazz. TRiP also serves over 60 craft beers and cheap, hearty bar food.
Three Clubs is a dark and sultry Hollywood bar, done up in red and black. They offer craft cocktails at the bar, and a stage in the back features live music, comedy, burlesque and theatrical performances every night of the week. If the bar looks familiar, it might be because it’s from the 1996 comedy Swingers.
Paladino’s is an affordable dive in the Valley with trippy artwork, pool, happy hour, and a wide variety of live music. Expect cover bands, metal, and rock on the weekends; R&B, blues, funk, and soul on Mondays; and Latin nights on Thursdays and Sundays.
With a sprawling patio, Spanish fare and tapas, and an eclectic mix of live comedy, music, and burlesque performances, El Cid is a true gem. Guests are just as apt to see a classical Flamenco show as they are an energetic rock band or an all-woman Black Sabbath cover band. Just check their robust calendar.
Harvard & Stone maintains a vintage, WWII-era feel while slinging classic cocktails in the front and new concoctions at their “R&D Bar” in the back. There’s plenty of space among the bar’s two stories and multiple lounge areas, but the stage area gets crowded during the regular live performances. Bookings include rock, blues, country, folk, rockabilly, indie, and a regular burlesque show backed by a live band.
The Redwood is not Los Angeles’ only pirate-themed bar, oddly enough, yet it’s one of the best. Slide in during happy hour (daily, 4–7pm) for a whiskey at the bar, appropriately decorated with a skull and crossbones. Stop by at night for loud rock, punk, and indie shows.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub, American, $$$
Sassafras Saloon | Courtesy of Danielle Bernabe
Sassafras may be located in Hollywood, but the atmosphere inside hints at an Old West saloon deep in the Bayou. Craft cocktails and vintage decor are the pull for happy hour crowds, yet it’s the live jazz, blues and occasional DJ that make Sassafras an ideal nighttime haunt.
Grace Kelly performs at the Catalina in an episode of Bosch | Courtesy of Amazon
Cody’s Viva Cantina offers Mexican fare, margaritas, and free parking for both cars and horses. The real draw to this Country-Western bar is the live music. Catch country, big band, jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly, and garage rock acts – many of them free.