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Best Airport Bars In Los Angeles

November 8, 2012 6:00 AM

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

airport bars header Best Airport Bars In Los Angeles

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Whether you’re waiting to take off or be picked up in Los Angeles, hanging out an airport bar can be a great way to pass the time. There are always the restaurant and bar chains, but here are a few local picks to tide you over before your final destination.

3339830 Best Airport Bars In Los Angeles

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

The Encounter
Los Angeles International Airport
209 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 215-5151

Los Angeles International Airport, known to most locals affectionately as just “LAX,” has a plethora of bars and eateries serving alcoholic drinks for the laid-over traveler. The most eye-catching is The Encounter, a spaceship-shaped restaurant and lounge located 135 feet in the air in the center of the airport, resembling what perhaps its architects in 1961 envisioned as air travel of the future. The other-worldly theme continues inside with a crater-shaped bar with laser guns that emit lights and sounds when bartenders pour a drink, bar stools that seem to float midair and glowing lava lights. The lounge features a number of bottled beers as well as beers on tap. The signature drinks are its martinis, from The Jet Set to The Milky Way. The Encounter is a don’t-miss airport experience, but better hurry: The restaurant’s contract is up December 2012 and The Encounter as it now exists may soon be history.

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(credit: Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Daniel’s Bistro + Bar
Los Angeles International Airport
380 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 215-4215
Tom Bradley International Terminal

You don’t need a boarding pass or security clearance, to visit Daniel’s Bistro + Bar at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. With a bistro on one side and a bar and lounge on the other, travelers as well as those meeting or seeing them off may drink and dine together. Visitors won’t have to travel across the state to enjoy an array of premium California wines along with draft and bottled beers, and signature cocktails. Forget rushing to your gate when you can relax in style in the bar’s blue leather lounge seats and chill in front of a video arts monitor featuring a montage of iconic California images and landscapes. It’s distinctly Californian, but not your typical airport bar.

matsuharu morimoto Best Airport Bars In Los Angeles

(credit: Masaharu Morimoto/

Skewers by Morimoto
Los Angeles Airport
1 World Way
Los Angeles, CA
Terminal 5

While it is not a bar per se, the much-anticipated Skewers by Morimoto by Food Network Iron Chef Morimoto has just arrived at LAX Terminal 5. The new casual eatery provides a walk-up-service bar where you can grab a quick drink while you dine on kushiyaki and kushiage — popular street and bar food in Japan. Skewers’ contemporary design and décor fuse rough-sawn wood and rebar for a feel  all its own. It’s fast and easy, perfect for the airport environment when you have to drink and run, or fly.

Related: Best Bars for Networking in LA

bob hope airport Best Airport Bars In Los Angeles

(credit: Bob Hope Airport)

The Bob Hope Airport Bar
Bob Hope Airport
2627 N. Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91503
(818) 840-8840
Gate B3

The Bob Hope Airport, formerly the Burbank Airport, might not be the first airport you think of when you are traveling to L.A., but it’s a favorite of the locals because of its easy-in, easy-out access and its smallness. This laid-back and small-town feel is reflected in its signature bar, the Bob Hope Airport Bar. The bartenders are friendly and chatty, and they have several beers on tap and cheaper drinks than most bars in town. Most notable is the kick-butt spicy bloody Mary for $7.25 and very large glasses for wine for $9. If you don’t feel like mingling, WiFi is $4 for two hours, and the music is usually pretty good listening. It’s nothing special but it’s clean and a great place for people watching.

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(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

El Paseo Café & Bar
Ontario International Airport
2500 E. Aiprot Drive
Onatrio, CA 91761
(909) 975-8008
Gate 24

Ontario International Airport is a rather obscure Los Angeles airport that many locals have never used or even know where it is, so it’s expected that airport bar pickings’ are slim there. El Paseo Café & Bar serves Mexican fast food and beers. The seating is limited, with and handful of laminate tables and about a half dozen padded steel high stools at the bar. There’s not much ambience to speak of, though the food is decent and portions are generous, and the beer is cold, beating the alternative of TGI Friday’s for local flavor.

Related: Best Bartending Classes in LA

K. Pearson Brown is a freelance writer covering all things LA. Her work can be found on


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