The Best Restaurant Bars in LA

It might seem odd to residents of other large American cities now used to being taunted for taking cocktails out of their natural habitat (the cocktail bar), but many of LA’s best cocktails can actually be found in its restaurants. Why? In a food-obsessed city like LA it turns out most notable bartenders are more interested in working with great chefs and restaurateurs than participating in the Hollywood nightlife scene. All the better for those looking for a great drink with a side of dinner. From Beverly Hills to Bell, here’s a list of the city’s best restaurant bars.

  • 1

    a.o.c.

    Wine director Caroline Styne has become a fixture in the Los Angeles wine and restaurant community, with multiple restaurants and a growing empire with her business partner, chef Suzanne Goin. The recent move and revamp of a.o.c. brought a fresh pair of eyes to the list—and cocktail program, headed up by Christiaan Rollich—that has always been strong, but is sometimes overshadowed by the new kids on the block. From the beautiful patio to the stellar food, there are few better places to enjoy a glass (or five) of wine, as the pricing is beyond fair. The seasonal, California-inspired menu also hints at the ethos of the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • New California wine
    • low wine markups
    • outdoors / patio
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 2

    Bar Amá

    Where can you get gooey queso dip, the most decadent Frito pie ever, mole eggplant and lubina crudo with tomatillo and apple all in the one place? Bar Amá, chef Josef Centeno’s love letter to the Tex-Mex food of his youth, with a hearty dash of modern LA thrown in for good measure. The bar snakes along the side of the vibrant room, and is one of the most convivial spots in town to eat dinner. Doesn't hurt that there’s a serious tequila and mezcal selection behind it.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • day drinking
    • craft cocktails
  • 3

    Bestia

    Down a deserted-looking street in the outer reaches of the Arts District lies one of LA's most popular restaurants. With a wine list that sports categories like "Wiggle. Wiggle. Wiggle" and "S.W.A.G. Approved" you know you're in for an experience. Wine director Ryan Ibsen has started a new practice called the "bone luge," which involves sherry being poured down an empty bone. The primary focus of the list is its pairing-power with chef Ori Menashe’s truly outstanding menu, with wines that lean heavily in the high-acid, mineral-driven, saline—and sometimes funky—direction. The bar program is overseen by Julian Cox, ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • low wine markups
  • 4

    Cliff's Edge

    This is simply one of the prettiest places to eat and drink in Los Angeles, especially on the huge outside patio. The Silver Lake mainstay has gone through a lot of changes in the last couple of years, bringing in a fantastic new chef, overhauling the wine list and creating a solid cocktail program. During the summer, star bartender Matthew Biancaniello hosts a botanical cocktail pop-up on Wednesday evenings, but even when he’s not there the bar is a winner.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • outdoor / patio
    • day drinking
    • full menu
    • good wine
    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • oysters / raw bar
  • 5

    Corazón y Miel

    In the unlikely location of Bell, a working class neighborhood southeast of downtown, is Corazón y Miel: a modern Mexican-influenced restaurant from Eddie Ruiz, a former line cook at Animal. You won’t find any enchiladas or tacos here—you’re more likely to come across pork rillettes with pickled vegetables, or a two-pound El Salvadorian turkey leg sandwich. To go along with that, there’s an incredibly fun tequila and mezcal-heavy bar program.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
  • 6

    Eveleigh

    Smack in the middle of West Hollywood’s somewhat superficial nightlife scene is this bungalow and garden oasis. Tucked behind a wall of plants, the sprawling restaurant has two bars: one up front in the house, and one in the back of the festive garden dining area. Inside, a rustic fireplace burns on cooler nights and the walls are festooned with vintage knickknacks. Outside, the twinkling lights and soft breezes make this one of the city’s best patios. But while Eveleigh is all about ambience, it's also a bartender’s bar that consistently plays host to some of the city's top talent.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • outdoors / patio
    • lots of whiskey
    • New California wine
    • Italian wine
    • French wine
    • singles scene
    • craft cocktails
  • 7

    Petit Trois

    Ludo Lefebvre is a bona fide celebrity chef these days, and with all of this new-found fame he could've certainly opened a big, glitzy, money-making restaurant. Instead, he’s opened two tiny restaurants side-by-side in a strip mall behind a gas station. One of those, the 22-seat Petit Trois, is an ode to the bars of Paris, with one big distinction: great cocktails. The list of cocktails changes regularly and are listed alongside a small, but well-curated list of French wines.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • day drinking
  • 8

    Picca

    In the top half of a Pico Robertson duplex lives what is perhaps the best high-end Peruvian restaurant in the country. This place is alive with energy: on the plate, in the atmosphere and yes, in the glass. Like many of L.A.’s best restaurant cocktail lists, the bar offerings are overseen by Julian Cox, and his bright flavors compliment the equally high-toned food.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 9

    Providence

    Michael Cimarusti’s fine dining seafood restaurant is a tasting-menu-only affair, and those tasting menus ain’t cheap. But a little-known way around that sort of investment is the small bar located off the foyer, where you can order à la carte from the menu. Because the restaurant is so exclusive, barely anyone thinks to come here to hang out at a bar, so it’s likely you’ll have the place to yourself, save the besuited waiters rushing back and forth, and the occasional group waiting for a table. But the drinks are fantastic, and the bartenders are old-school pros.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • craft cocktails
  • 10

    Scopa

    Steve Livigni used to manage bars for powerhouse nightlife duo the Houston Brothers (Pour Vous, La Descarga), but with Scopa he’s made the leap from manager of other people’s bars to co-owner, along with barman Pablo Moix and chef Antonia Lofaso. The bar at Scopa is a towering thing of beauty—all high shelves of jewel-colored, back-lit bottles—and just about the best place to grab dinner in the restaurant section.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • craft cocktails
  • 11

    Spago

    When you enter Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s legendary Beverly Hills restaurant, through its long, dark, opulent bar, there’s bound to be a movie star or two sitting on the velvet-covered bar chairs and at the low cocktail tables; but they’re hardly the most interesting people here. Women dripping in diamonds, barons conducting drunken business and socialite climbers create a kind of high-rent, high-stakes theater. A longtime training ground for Court of Master Sommelier candidates, the wine list represents an impressive collection of champagne, California standards and old-world classics that appeal to wine professionals ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
    • good wine
    • vintage wine
    • champagne
    • singles scene

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