Being a good actor is only part of the battle in LA. Getting out of your apartment, meeting your castmates at bars, and schmoozing with industry people you secretly loathe is the other, far more difficult part. Also, sometimes (most of the time) you just need a really strong drink after a day on set. And while plenty of bars offer fancy cocktails and cheap Happy Hours in this town, not all are great for meeting the person who will give you your next job. Here are the 17 best places to do just that.
It’s hard to eat well when you’re waiting for your big break. Get the rest of The Actor’s Guide To Eating & Drinking In LA here.
Most people are at Eveleigh for the same reason you are: to meet someone who will help them get their next job. This place is a full restaurant, but you don’t need to bother with the food - just get a spot on the patio and drink a few strong cocktails. There’s a decent chance the people sitting next to you are a casting director and a producer, so listen carefully for the best time to interrupt them.
If you spend any time in the Valley, you’ve heard of Forman’s, the bar of choice for almost every Burbank studio person. So when your sister’s old roommate/current casting director for Disney Channel Original Movies finally meets with you, this is where you’ll go. It feels a bit more like a hunting lodge than a bar in here (that massive buck’s head is definitely staring into your soul), and the whiskey drinks are strong enough to ease your nerves that you’re talking to the person who could get you a part in High School Musical 8.
We can’t endorse the food here, but this very sceney and very vegan restaurant in West Hollywood is exactly where you want to be drinking with that one girl from your on-camera class who keeps mentioning she wants to introduce you to her agent over at Gersh. The cocktails are excellent (get the house margarita) and the side patio is one of the nicest in the city. It’s also large enough that you and her (and hopefully her agent) can have some peace and quiet amongst the blogger apocalypse that surrounds you.
Fat Dog is that place you go to when a girl you barely remember from high school messages you that she just moved to LA and wants some tips on building her reel. The prime Fairfax location means it’s probably convenient for anyone you’re meeting, there’s free parking in the basement, and a daily 4-7pm Happy Hour that gets you $3 beer, $4 house wine, and $5 well drinks. Plus, it’s not some overwhelming scene that’ll trap you on a patio for three hours. Grab a drink, give your made-up advice, and get home to your couch where you’re still editing your own reel.
Paley is the ground-floor restaurant in the massive Columbia Square complex in Hollywood, and it’s built entirely for people to work their way up the entertainment ladder. The space is large and attractive (in a Beverly Hills hotel restaurant kind of way) and the food is solid. But that’s irrelevant - you’re there because other people who are far more important than you are there. Also, their daily Happy Hour from 3-6pm with half-off house wines and seasonal cocktails is a shockingly great deal.
When you’re an actor and he’s a music video director, chances are that you’ll both be free for drinks at 2pm on a Wednesday. Melrose Umbrella Company is a good option for middle of the day meetings that require alcohol. This cocktail bar on Melrose is pretty small, but during the day getting a table near the big front windows shouldn’t be an issue.
If you don’t know what Chateau Marmont is by now, you probably shouldn’t have bought that one-way ticket to LA in the first place. The landmark hotel on the Sunset Strip has pretty much been the epicenter of all things Hollywood networking since the 1920’s, and its restaurant is a full-on celebrity convention. The food is fine and the cocktails at the bar are as expensive as the parking ticket you’re getting right now, but it doesn’t matter. That’s Amy Adams right over there and that feels good.
Harlowe isn’t just that place you went to once and left with a Survivor contestant who never spoke to you again. This place is also a surprisingly low-key option for after-work drinks, as all the agency people who stop in when they’re let out of the office will tell you. The draft cocktails are $8 during Happy Hour, and should get you through this hopefully-not-a-date with a guy who happens to cast all of Martin Scorsese’s movies.
Laurel Tavern opened as a casual neighborhood bar and restaurant on Ventura in Studio City and has quickly morphed into the de facto after-work drink spot for everyone who works in the Valley. This isn’t where you go to impress someone with your restaurant-finding skills - this is where you go after a long day of mediocre auditions to talk to the assistant of a high-powered manager who’s only there for the expense-able burger.
Is this hidden spot on Fairfax entirely overpriced, completely mediocre, and a production from start to finish? Yes. But it’s also full of somewhat important fashion/lifestyle/that sort of thing people and you didn’t move all the way from Indianapolis to hide in your bedroom.
At the end of the day, rooftops always impress. And when you need a place with a view that will keep the Co-Head of Casting happy at all times, EP & LP is your spot. The massive space along La Cienega can admittedly become a tornado of Euro-bros on weekends, but weeknights are far more calm (and you can actually get in). Drinks aren’t cheap, but no one cares because the sun is setting and the smog is doing that thing where it turns the Hollywood hills purple for like 45 minutes. Don’t be tempted by the downstairs restaurant - it’s middling at best.
Laurel Hardware is one of the more crowded spots in Weho, and it’s filled with people who like to talk about who their boss is. That might be annoying, but it also means there are plenty of agent trainees looking for new talent, so go take advantage of the 6-7pm weekday Happy Hour while you wait for that Patrick Bateman-looking UTA guy to come talk to you.
Tower Bar is a West Hollywood classic, where you go with your boss every time she suspiciously asks to grab a drink with you after work. The 90-year-old restaurant and bar is filled with intimidating, high-powered executives, but welcome to the real Hollywood. We usually recommend the build-your-own ice cream sundae situation, but DO NOT EAT AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE IN FRONT OF AN AGENT.
Zinque is the most West Hollywood restaurant in West Hollywood. Come any night of the week and you’ll find a very pretty patio full of very pretty people not eating any of the food that’s in front of them. But if you use Zinque to drink some wine on a Wednesday and play successful mind games with a co-worker you know will be going for the same job as you in three months, then you’ll walk away happy enough. If you do get hungry, the Le Bowl salad is fine and doesn’t have any carbs in it. We promise.
Catcher In The Rye is one of those rare places you could take your agent for a quick dinner, meet your roommate for Happy Hour drinks, or have a weird meeting with your mom’s best friend’s son who’s in LA this summer and wants to pick your brain. This bar’s sole purpose in life is to provide a space for people to have uncomfortable industry meetings. With good drinks, solid bar food, and board games for when things get really dire, it delivers.