There are lots of reasons to go downtown (too many to name, in fact), but whether you’re checking out a museum, going to a show, meeting friends for dinner, or, you know, you live there, stopping for a drink will likely be part of the agenda. Here are nearly two dozen spots to choose from, whether you’re looking for tiki in Chinatown or a dive in the Arts District.
You might not spot this hidden gem at first, considering it’s underground and hidden behind a heavy unmarked door, but keep looking. Inside you’ll find a low-lit lounge with stately décor and an impressive selection of classic cocktails. Don Draper would be shook. 110 E. 6th St., downtown.
A new addition to the DTLA drinking scene, Atlas takes over the space that was formerly Blue J. The interior has a sleek new look, and a large, wrap-around bar should mean there’s a place to sit most times you drop by. The food menu is short but has some fancy touches. A seasonal list of house-devised cocktails is full of bright flavors, like the “Welcome to the Jungle” with mezcal, pineapple, lemon, aperol, and strawberry. 333 S. Alameda St., Little Tokyo.
Inspired by retro Italian drinking culture, this high-ceilinged room down the block from Grand Central Market is heavy on spritzes and amari. It’s a perfect spot for happy hour, with $5 cocktails and abundant lower-ABV options. If you decide to stick around for more of a party scene, the ‘80s themed Slipper Clutch bar can be accessed through a door at the back of Bar Clacson. 351 S. Broadway, Historic Core.
Look for the neon cherries to find your way to this snug cocktail spot. Inside, under the domed, pink ceiling, you’ll sip on classic cocktails and selections from a well-curated list of natural wines and craft beers. The bar is the newest project from set designer-turned-bar owner Rachel Thomas, formerly behind Perch and the Must. Bar Franca is conveniently located next door to the Regent Theater, making it a perfect spot for a pre-show drink. 438 S. Main St., Historic Core.
The self-proclaimed “dumBEST bar in L.A.” has late-midcentury swinger vibes and frozé on tap for people with post-millennium tastes. Earlier this year, sister business Buddy’s began slinging bar food next door, including a drool-worthy smashburger, so you can prolong you hang. And if you get tired of your date or drinking buddies, you can always go feed quarters into their Tapper machine. 361 S. Broadway, downtown.
Broken Shaker at Freehand L.A.
If you’re looking for the perfect rooftop bar to have a low-key night with friends, have Insta-worthy drinks, and get a beautiful view of DTLA, then plan a night out at the Broken Shaker at Freehand Hotel in L.A. Hell, with L.A.’s recent unpredictable weather, you can even take a dip in the pool. 501 S. Spring St., downtown.
We may never know who originated the French Dip sandwich, but one thing’s for sure: Cole’s wins the argument on the full-bar front, serving perfectly composed old-school craft cocktails like Sazeracs and Daiquiris in a space that befits the joint’s turn-of-the-century roots. 118 E. 6th St., downtown.
If you really want to wild out on a weekend night, the Down & Out welcomes you with open arms. Located at the base of the Alexandria Hotel, this sports bar is one of the best places in DTLA to dance (and drink…responsibly) the night away. Better yet, the dive has cheap drinks, good music, and a questionable photo-op (you can take a photo with a backdrop of a mugshot) given its proximity to the county jail. When they aren’t hosting DJs, trivia, or open-mic nights expect to see a game on their TVs. 501 S. Spring St., downtown.
It literally translates to “the Hideout,” so if you’re sick of the lines at DTLA’s more crowded bars, then head over to Boyd Street where you’ll find the perfect escape. A bonus? El Escondite has ample parking so no more paying overpriced fees at lots either (just keep that BAC under .08). With tons of brews to choose from (not to mention a full menu), just sit back and chill out. 1631, 410 Boyd St., downtown.
If you or anyone you know has had a birthday in the past three years, you’ve probably celebrated it at E.R.B. The inside is a stylish enough bar, but the party is outside on the massive, festive patio. Book a picnic table for your crew, or just drop in for a drink and a plate of their outrageously good biscuits. Cocktails get a lot of love here, but don’t forget that wine is in the DNA–key players are linked to Silverlake Wine and the Everson Royce wine shop in Pasadena. 1936 E. 7th St., Arts District.
This bi-level “modern tiki bar” gives you plenty of options for where to hang—the nightclub-esque ground floor has tables and a DJ booth, while the cozy raised loft area feels like a house party thrown by a good friend (but with really, really good drinks). 475 Gin Ling Way, Chinatown.
Downtown is full of bars with meticulously executed interior design and drinks that involve things that are kept in bitty atomizers. Hanks, located next door to the Stillwell Hotel (with which it shares a bathroom), is not one of those bars. But it is one of the most authentic dives in DTLA, the kind of place with lighting that makes everything glow red so your no-frills whiskey and Coke and your companion look just a little bit better. (Note: despite a sign that says “delightful dining & drinking,” Hanks does not serve food as far as we know.) 840 S. Grand Ave., downtown.
Originally known as Westbound, this train-car-chic spot took some time off in 2018 to rebrand, and came back better than ever. Find food options for a variety of tastes and preferences, and rotating seasonal menus that are among the most creative in town. Bonus: You can make reservations in advance, should you want to avoid a date night spent with drink orders being shouted over your shoulder. 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Arts District.
Downtown is changing at the speed of light, but La Cita always seems to stay the same. You don’t need an excuse to drop in an immerse yourself in old-school L.A. at its finest, but chances are you’re checking out one of their notoriously fun DJ nights, including Funky Reggae Party on Friday nights and Cumbia Fever on Thursdays. 336 S. Hill St., downtown.
When a craving for something smoky strikes, the mezcal margarita as Las Perlas will hit the spot. And once the drunk munchies kick in, walk on out to the patio and order some tacos. On weekends, you can also hit them up for brunch. Unlimited miches and mimosas—yes please! 107 E. 6th St., downtown.
Post up beneath a ceiling strung with paper lanterns and enjoy the always-excellent DJ sets at this low-key Chinatown haunt. They’re best known for their excellent (and affordable) selection of craft beer, but the cocktails aren’t bad either. 939 N. Hill St., Chinatown.
Mignon is a quaint, intimate wine bar with rustic décor and a full menu of perfectly executed French classics, from escargot to ham and brie. It’s also a great place to go if you actually want to hear what the person you’re with is saying. 128 E. 6th St., downtown.
We’re loathe to use the phrase “see and be seen,” but if you talk yourself into embracing it, the NoMad is the place to go. The drop-dead-gorgeous boutique hotel’s Giannini Bar is a pleasantly swank place to grab a cocktail, even if you aren’t staying the night. Hell, you can pretend you are. 649 S. Olive St., downtown.
Exposed-brick walls, hanging plants, modernist furniture, and lots of pink, set the tone at this hip wine bar. There’s a food menu of old school bistro classics–escargots, French onion soup, croque monsieur–if you want something substantial. But really, you’re here for wine. The list is heavily French, occasionally biodynamic, and includes numerous by-the-glass options. Overwhelmed by selection? The cheerful staff are always helpful to guide you to your next glass. 1135 N. Alameda St., Chinatown.
The Redwood feels like a weird name for a nautical-themed bar, but just go with it. Intended to approximate the galley of a ship, the Redwood is way more inviting than your typical punk venue. They even serve food, including “pirate fare” (aka fish and chips). 315 W. 2nd St., downtown.
Imagine if they compressed Austin’s SXSW festival into a bar (minus the giant Dorito machine). Outside is a beer garden with vintage Airstream trailers converted into bars and food service. Inside is an intimate performance space for live music and DJ nights. Drink service is crazy-fast thanks to an innovative tap system that delivers craft cocktails on demand, and the fare from KTCHN DTLA is among the city’s best bar food. 428 S. Hewitt St., Arts District.
Tailor-made for the easily bored, this Arts District haunt has pool, ping-pong, and darts, but it’s also a great no-frills spot to grab a drink amid the weekend craziness that descends on the Arts District. And don’t snooze on the happy hour deals: $7 craft cocktails (from an abbreviated menu), $4 Miller High Life, and cut-rate pizza too.
Highballs are high art in Japan, where this Little Tokyo bar turns for inspiration, and Wolf & Crane does a great one with classic Suntory Toki Whisky. But don’t sleep on their extensive spirits list, which includes one of L.A.’s best Japanese whisky selections. It’s no somber drinking den, though; a DJ booth is frequently occupied by rotating residents. 366 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo.