When it comes to L.A. nightlife, sometimes things can get so scene-y you feel sick. We tend to avoid (like the plague) the spots where models strut their stuff, bandage dresses reign supreme, and booze costs as much as dinner. After all, your tipsy time is precious, so why spend it with some wannabes off the street? The legit kids in town prefer to go incognito at dark and seedy dive bars, where people watching isn't the main event, but instead getting QT with your peeps is top priority. Now, we know this is a heated subject for some of you die-hard divers, so please don't go hating; we had to include some only-sorta-shabby saloons for the squeamish, too. But go ahead, you have our permission, knock 'em back, down- and-dirty style!
Photos Via (clockwise from top left): The Mandrake, El Cid, El Cid, and Jumbo's Clown Room
Over the last few years, The Mandrake has become increasingly hip, but it's still plenty dark, and holds on to that bedraggled vibe. This one's for those of you who still need some modern comforts like souped-up drinks and an occasional DJ set.
The Mandrake Bar, 2692 South La Cienega Boulevard (Near Venice Boulevard); 310-837-3297.
El Cid is one of those old-school hangouts that will probably still be around when our grandchildren come of drinking age. And for good reason: The indoor/outdoor space is easy, breezy, and always filled with a laid-back crowd.
El Cid, 4212 West Sunset Boulevard (Near Santa Monica Boulevard); 323-668-0318.
Jumbo's Clown Room
Jumbo's is set up like a strip joint, but nudey-phobes need not worry because the burlesque dancers are only scantily clad, and actually put on a pretty impressive performance. The place packs up fast, so either go early to uniquely kick off the night, or end up there super late for serious kicks.
Jumbo’s Clown Room, 5153 Hollywood Boulevard (at Winona Boulevard); 323-666-1187.
Cafe Brass Monkey, 3440 Wilshire Boulevard (at South Mariposa Avenue); 213-381-7047.
Frolic Room, 6245 Hollywood Boulevard (Between Vine and North Gower Streets); 323-462-5890.
Gold Room, 1558 West Sunset Boulevard (by Echo Park Avenue); 213-482-5259.
Frank N Hanks, 518 South Western Avenue (Near West 5th Street); 213-283-2087.
Hank’s Bar, 840 South Grand Avenue (Near West 8th Street); 213-623-7718.
Lost & Found, 11700 National Boulevard (at South Barrington Avenue); 310-397-7772.
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