Sure, we like to sip perfect Boulevardiers while sitting on leather banquettes and nibbling house-made charcuterie. Who doesn’t? But we also have moments when we’d rather just knock back Tecates in a room full of peeling paint and old-timers who smell like they’ve been fermented in a jar of Newports.

When we crave equal parts solace and cheap entertainment, it’s the dark, seedy dive bar that we want. Off-the-clock bartenders feel the same way—when they’re done shaking daiquiris and inventing cocktails for the guest who wants something “refreshing but not too sweet,” they crave shots and cheap beers, not fancy cocktails.

We asked 16 of Los Angeles’ top barkeeps which dives they go to when they need a proper, no-nonsense session. After-hours (or on their day off), you might find them at these watering holes, sipping whiskey straight and feeding crumpled bills into the jukebox.


Karen Grill

Beverage director/GM at Sassafras Saloon

drinkFavorite dive bar: Tiki Ti (4427 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood; 323-669-9381,

Grill says: “Tiki Ti is about as small as an island hut on the beach would be and serves only booze and the tiki cocktails of yesteryear. No beer, no wine, all personality. It’s one of the last bars in L.A. that you can smoke in, only adding to its charm. It’s my favorite place to duck into on a hot day.” (Photo: Karen Grill, Yelp)

Chris Amirault

Beverage director at Idle Hour/GM at Harlowe


Favorite dive bar: Jones Hollywood (7205 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood; 323-850-1726,

Amirault says: “Jones is my favorite place to unwind after work with a beer and a shot of bourbon. It has the best late-night happy hour every night after 10pm—you can get $5 Americanos and $6 whole pizzas.” (Photo: Chris Amirault; Yelp)

Santa Monica

Matthew Biancaniello


jay2 Favorite dive bar: Chez Jay (1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica; 310-395-1741,

Biancaniello says: “I love that the bar is near the ocean and has a great atmosphere inside. I especially love how they serve roasted peanuts and they encourage you to throw your shells on the floor. Also, they have really good IPAs on tap and their jukebox is insane!” (Photo: Tatsu Oiye, Facebook)

Brandi Boles

Beverage director at Tom Bergin’s

pintFavorite dive bar: The Daily Pint (2310 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica; 310-450-7631,

Boles says: “I first stumbled upon The Daily Pint on the way home from the beach one day. It’s a very unassuming place and by far my favorite dive. It’s dark and has that funky smell of old beer. Pool tables in the middle of the side room, kegs stacked on the floor that haven’t seen a broom in the better part of a decade, and a shuffleboard (which I love!). They have a lot of beer, and good beer at that. They also have one of the thickest and most reasonably priced whiskey and scotch collections out there. I’m a bourbon girl through and through, but when I am in the mood to sit down and enjoy a Scotch, I appreciate the time and effort that Phil McGovern and staff have put into their very impressive collection.” (Photo: Brandi Boles,

West Hollywood

Brynn Smith

Bar director at Sotto

brynnFavorite dive bar: Formosa Cafe (7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; 323-850-9050)

Smith says: “There’s always a familiar face at Formosa Cafe, and they make good cocktails. The history and nostalgia there is so cool. The bar serves as the setting for many fun stories about Old Hollywood, and it’s still owned by the same family.” (Photo: Sotto, Foursquare)

Culver City

Beau du Bois

Bar manager at Corner Door

cozyFavorite dive bar: Cozy Inn (11155 Washington Pl, Culver City; 310-838-3826,

du Bois says: “You know that place you go after work and ask for a small shot of Fernet Branca but the bartender practically pours you a double? Well, that’s The Cozy Inn, complete with a well-conditioned shuffleboard table and pool tables occupied by serious pool types. The local crowd pretty much ignores the shuffleboard table, leaving it wide open for me and my closing crew. The bar definitely has some local flavor, and there’s absolutely nothing special about the beer and booze selection—but they keep a bottle of Fernet on the back bar for us.” (Photo: Marie Buck, Foursquare)

Los Feliz

Matthew Kaner

Wine director/co-owner of Bar Covell and Augustine Wine Bar

rusticFavorite dive bar: Ye Rustic Inn (1831 Hillhurst Ave, Los Feliz; 323-662-5757,

Kaner says: “I love the Ye Rustic Inn because it’s a total time warp, especially since the neighborhood around it has modernized so much over the last decade. It was purchased by a second owner in the last 10 years and nothing was changed. Nothing, except they now have an IPA on tap. They have the absolute best hot wings in all of L.A. The secret: order them well done and sauce on the side; your mind will be blown. You can walk in there and see famous musicians, movie directors, artists from around the world—and next to them you’ll see a dude who’s been rooting for the Pittsburg Steelers his entire life and works the night shift just so he can get off in time to watch the football game.” (Photo: Matthew Kaner, Facebook)

Joshua Goldman

Managing partner at BrilliantshinejumbosFavorite dive bar: Jumbos Clown Room (5153 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz; 323-666-1187,

Goldman says: “I love Jumbos because strippers, booze, and day drinking. I heard Courtney Love got her start there.” (Photo: Andy Keilen, Yelp)

Daniel Hamid

Former bartender at Bucato

yesFavorite dive bar: Figaro Bistrot (1802 N. Vermont Ave, Los Feliz; 323-662-1587,

Hamid says: “My favorite dive bar is not a dive bar in the traditional sense, but it’s my dive bar. Sure, there are the fantastic obvious ones such as the Drawing Room or The Cha Cha Lounge, but Figaro’s $35 BOTTLE of Cremant Rose makes it the perfect first stop on any day. There’s $4 mini-Martinis as well as $5 Campari for their happy hour—what more could one want? Tip the staff well because they’re worth it.” (Photo: Daniel Hamid, Yelp)

Downtown LA

Yael Vengroff

Beverage director at The Spare RoomcitaFavorite dive bar: La Cita (336 S. Hill St, Downtown LA; 213-687-7111,

Vengroff says: “La Cita is not just my favorite dive bar, but my favorite bar in L.A. The interior looks like a Christmas mariachi threw up all over a sex shop. Multicolor bulbs flash recklessly against severe red lighting that only gets amplified by the mirrors that line the back bar. Like any true dive bar, La Cita opens daily at 11am without fail. By day, you can find construction workers and those who live in the area on lunch break; at night, different DJs bring in mixed crowds of regulars and new faces, depending on the genre. There is a giant dance floor that is frequently empty, but people prefer the bar and the spacious back patio that even has another bar area. There is absolutely nothing more you can ask for.” (Photo: Yael Vengroff, Erin Mosbaugh)

Devon Tarby

Partner at Proprietors LLC (Honeycut, Death & Co., The Normandie Club)

devonFavorite dive bar: Ham & Eggs Tavern (433 W. 8th St, Downtown LA;

Tarby says: “My favorite dive bar used to be Hank’s in DTLA, which closed a few weeks ago. A lot of the good ones are either closing or becoming fancy, which is a major bummer. Some might argue that Ham & Eggs Tavern isn’t a true dive bar, because it’s not old and the wine selection is pretty damn good, but it’s the place I go when I want a divey vibe. It’s dark as hell, the music is loud, they have cans of Rolling Rock for four bucks, and the bar top is the old formica counter from when it was an actual diner. The owner decided a few months ago that he was sick of college kids in the bar, so he made a strict 23+ policy at the door. Amazing.”

Silver Lake

Giovanni Martinez

Beverage director of Sadie smogFavorite dive bar: Smog Cutter (864 N Virgil Ave, Silver Lake; 323-660-4626)

Martinez says: “The Smog Cutter is a dive in the most traditional sense—not in the hipster, romantic, good-ole-days way, but in the smelly, dodgy, sometimes rude-to-you way. It has karaoke, cold beer, warm whisky, and a suspicious smell. The first time I went in I had already been drinking, so I ordered a water. What followed was classic Smog Cutter: the bartender yelled at me and said, ‘Water is for p^$$!#s, you must be a p^$$y!” Then I said, ‘Hey, my buddy ordered a Sprite, why don’t you yell at him?’ She replied in a delightful accent, ‘At least Sprite has bubbles!’ Ah, the Smog Cutter, where the owner may cut you off in the middle of a song because you suck. Now that’s a dive bar.”

Highland Park

Tony Yanow

Co-founder of Golden Road Brewing/Owner of Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend

hermmmFavorite dive bar: The Hermosillo (5125 York Blvd, Highland Park; 323-739-6459,

Yanow says: “The Hermosillo is located on York, across from another of my favorite bars, aptly named The York. The Hermosillo is not only a great Highland Park dive bar, but it’s now home to Highland Park Brewery. I am always a fan of bars that convert from an old, preferably seedy, previous incarnation and find a way to blend the new concept with the former grunginess. The Hermosillo guys do a great job of balancing past and present. It has a laid-back vibe with excellent beer and great food. Unpretentious, but serious enough to be taken seriously.” (Photo: Tony Yanow, Yelp)

Atwater Village

Joe Swifka

Beverage director for Houston Hospitality

teegeeFavorite dive bar: Club TeeGee (3210 Glendale Blvd, Atwater Village; 323-669-9631)

Swifka says: “I only go there in the afternoon because nobody’s there except myself and a couple of old salty regulars. It’s divey but you can tell the owner cares enough to keep things clean. There are some cool ’60s touches—tufted banquettes, lamps between the booths, etc. Drinks are reasonably priced and strong, and it’s my favorite place to play Supertouch and get toasty in the afternoon. Also, the bartenders are really friendly, which is always a plus.” (Photo: Andy Keilen, Foursquare)

Studio City

Aidan Demarest

Owner of Neat bar

starliteFavorite dive bar: Starlite Cantina (11411 Moorpark St, Studio City; 818-766-5807,

Demarest says: “Starlite is the perfect dive. It’s dark, has a decent liquor supply, and you can chat with your neighbor or not and nobody cares.” (Photo: Leo Rivas, Yelp)


Tobin Shea

Bar manager at Redbird

hmsFavorite dive bar: HMS Bounty (3357 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown; 213-385-7275,

Shea says: “Awesome untouched jukebox of timeless classics, amazing nautical paintings, and hotspot Keno. I once won $32,000 playing Keno at the bounty. And who could forget about the fish and chips and the baseball steak? I took my girlfriend of 11 years there for our first date. I guess the spot is lucky for me.” (Photo: Redbird, Yelp)