When singing in the shower isn’t enough to sate your desire to belt out your favorite song, karaoke is the perfect solution. Whether you’re a true chanteuse who can enchant a crowd, or you prefer a private room where you can warble among friends, Los Angeles has a karaoke bar for you.
Bar, American, $$$
Smog Cutter isn’t pretty, but it’s a cheap cash-only bar that serves strong drinks and offers any patron willing to abide by their two-drink minimum the chance to serenade the crowd with their favorite guilty pleasure. Service with a smile is not at the forefront of this surly dive, but it’s ideal for cutting loose and making new, perhaps overly loquacious friends.
R Bar requires guests to supply the bouncer with password to enter. Luckily, it’s as easy as checking this neighborhood haunt’s Facebook page beforehand. There’s plenty of space in the back booths for intimate conversation, but the small stage is where the action is, with live bands or karaoke multiple nights of the week. Reasonably priced drinks, including craft cocktails, are available, as well as a solid menu of American bar food.
Karaoke is the main draw of Brass Monkey, an unassuming Koreatown haunt tucked into a strip mall. People show up as early as 5pm to sing, and by night, the bar is packed with crooners. Show up early for a turn, but be prepared to dance, sing along, and high-five your fellow karaoke singers as this bar can get rowdy. It serves the usual bar cuisine, with various daily food and drink specials.
This Culver City bar is a favorite haunt for employees of Sony Studios, which is located across the street. Backstage has karaoke every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Guests can sign up as early as 7:30pm, which is advised as the bar gets packed in the later hours. Yet the crowd here really gets into the performances, cheering one another on throughout the night. The drinks are cheap, and quality bar food is available.
Enter an inconspicuous building off of Wilshire, descend a flight of stairs, and emerge in The Venue, a dimly lit, intimate fine dining restaurant serving upscale California cuisine and delicate craft cocktails. One libation even comes served in a large golden chalice shaped like a pineapple. In the back are 13 private karaoke rooms available for rent, the largest allowing up to 50 guests. A separate menu is available in the karaoke rooms, including sizable platters, charcuterie, nachos, wings, and desserts.
SoopSok (around since 1986) offers numerous private karaoke rooms, each containing a robust book of songs in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. Order beer, wine, and cocktails from the bar, as well as American and Korean food. Their smallest rooms can accommodate parties of six, while their largest rooms can hold up to 30 people. Prices range from $20 to $60 an hour.
Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar and Grill, Los Angeles | Courtesy of SoopSok Karaoke
Boardwalk 11 is tucked into a strip mall in Palms and features a collection of over 50,000 different songs to choose from. The menu skews to American bar food, and it’s got plenty of beer, including domestic session ales and interesting craft brews. Boardwalk 11 has a full coffee bar, too, in case anyone needs a pick-me-up before serenading their friends with their favorite ’90s jam.
Sardo’s has karaoke every night of the week, but it’s famous for Porn Star Karaoke, hosted every Tuesday. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a karaoke night purportedly frequented by people who work in the adult film industry. For something completely different, family-friendly karaoke is hosted every Friday, 7:30–9:30pm. Sardo’s has over 20,000 available songs, which can be browsed online.
It can be hard to get into Break Room 86: it’s often packed, there’s a dress code, and entrance is hidden around the side of The Line hotel. Yet inside is an ’80s-themed wonderland of arcade games, Cocktail-style bartenders slinging creative drinks, the occasional ’80s cover band, and a hydraulic a stage that periodically lowers to reveal breakdancing troupes or Michael Jackson impersonators. The karaoke occurs in a series of clandestine rooms, which can be booked for parties up to 20. On Tuesdays, there’s live band karaoke with band The Good Time Boys.
Tired of hearing Billy Joel and Adele? Check out Ground Control Karaoke, every Monday night at Complex in Glendale. The book here contains all the obscure new wave, punk, indie, goth, and rock tracks an alternative karaoke singer could want. There’s never a cover, and patrons who ride their bikes will receive their second drink for free. Doors open at 8pm.
At The Gaslite, no one has to be a great singer to have a good time, but that doesn’t mean some truly talented singers won’t make an appearance. This Santa Monica bar’s claim to fame is a 2010 Funny or Die stunt in which Jewel, in disguise, shows up and sings her own songs. Karaoke, dancing, and drink specials go down nightly. Happy hour is daily, 4–9pm. Max KaraokeMax Karaoke offers a number of private rooms accommodating up to at least 25 singers and a vast collection of songs in several languages. Patrons can BYOB, and all three locations stay open until 3am on weeknights and 4am on the weekends. From 1–8pm, it’s only $4 per person, per hour on weekdays, and $5 per hour, per person on the weekends.