Whether they are located within historic buildings and districts or have withstood the tests of time from one century to the next, many bars in Los Angeles hold historic significance. Here are some famous drinking establishments that are worthy of preservation, based on architectural design, historical value and cultural example.
Cole’s / The Varnish
118 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, Cole’s is Los Angeles’ oldest eatery and bar that has operated continuously from the same location since 1908. Located within the Historic Core district of downtown L.A., the landmark saloon is known for its French-dipped sandwiches and signature cocktails. But, perhaps one of its greatest draws is The Varnish, a hidden speakeasy in the back where mixologists are known to concoct some of the more potent mixed drinks in town. During happy hour, you can order a pastrami, beef or turkey slider for $5 and a fistful of fries for a buck. A visit is always well-spent at a place that harbors so much antiquity.
1999 N. Sycamore Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
The legend behind this mountain palace dates back to 1914, the year construction was completed. In decades to come, the breathtakingly-beautiful establishment became the location site for such classic films as “Sayonara” and tons of TV projects, including “Route 66,”; “Perry Mason” and “My Three Sons.” One of its biggest draws is a bustling full-service bar, which overlooks a 600-year-old pagoda. Against the backdrop of Hollywood’s skyline, orders for Mai Tai cocktails and sparkling sake flow in abundance, pairing well with its Asian-style baby back ribs. For the best photo opportunity, arrive before sunset.
King Eddy Saloon
131 E. 5th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Established in 1933, this neighborhood dive bar near Skid Row in downtown L.A. still whips up heavy-handed adult beverages and standard bar bites, including gut-filling chili. The popular watering hole attracts mainly hipsters that are in search of a cozy place to fire up the jukebox and meet new mates. Those on a squeezed budget will find food and drink prices here set at reasonable costs, with servings of most beer selections locked at $5 a pop and even less. It is a fine representation of a bygone era, when a no-frills speakeasy was considered a preferred spot to unwind and raise a mug or two with a family of cheerful friends.
6010 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Ever since 1937, this small-scale venue has attracted some of the biggest figures in the music industry, including Justin Timberlake, Tom Jones and Earth, Wind and Fire. During its earlier decades of operation, such icons as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder frequented the stage. Patrons who enter after 7 p.m., planting themselves at the full-service bar, are able to enjoy a scheduled production without having to pay a cover charge. In addition to adult beverages, the dark space offers a wide selection of comfort foods, like Southwestern crab cakes, Buffalo wings and steak burritos. It is well-worth a visit during any evening of the week.
12808 Victory Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606
Anyone who remembers the Polynesian culture craze of the mid-century will know that’s when this festive site became a prominent fixture in the San Fernando Valley. Established in 1958, it is now L.A.’s oldest tiki bar. It remains supported by a legion of devoted regulars and tourists that gravitate toward its warm ambiance, kidney-shaped dropped ceiling, lava-rock fountains and stiff rum cocktails. The relaxed setting still hosts a variety of themed-events, live concerts and art exhibits. It’s refreshing to know that efforts continue to keep alive the rich history of Polynesian art, music, language and mythology by passing the tiki torch from one generation to the next.
Related: Best Tiki Bars In Los Angeles