Most bars in Westwood, Brentwood, and West LA aren’t much fun. They involve waiting 15 minutes at the bar for a drink/getting elbowed by a drunk YouTuber in a Lakers jersey, and then paying $14 for a vodka soda. The area’s a strange mix of college town, celebrity enclave, and suburbs filled with twentysomething banker bros. But all is not lost - there are still some great places to drink in the area. These are the 12 best.
Broxton is a bar and restaurant right in the center of Westwood Village. It’s sort of a sports bar, sort of a brewery, and sort of a vegan spot. It’s also an entirely cool space that’s impossible to miss, with blue-and-gold tiling in the entranceway (Go Bruins) and a fountain out front. They’ll usually have about ten house-brewed beers on tap (our favorite’s the Roger, Roger IPA), supplemented by five or six beers from other breweries. This is a great place to come for sports when you don’t feel like dealing with the craziness of the full-on UCLA bars nearby, or for a casual Sunday afternoon beer.
Audrey is a good, very nice-looking restaurant in the Hammer Museum in Westwood that’s probably best suited for when your parents are in town - and picking up the check. But Audrey’s bar serves cocktails that are always worth the trip. The J.M. Gibson is their take on a traditional Gibson (but with pickled red onion), and it’s very good. Our favorite, though, is the Audrey - it’s an ideal blend of tequila, jalapeño, passionfruit, and cinnamon. They’ve also got a big list of wines by the glass. Next time you’re looking for an upscale spot to drink cocktails (and maybe look at some art), Audrey’s the place to do it.
It’s true that Barney’s is a sports bar with multiple locations throughout the city. But the reason we like them so much is that they’ve mastered everything that’s great about sports bars - a huge tap list, tons of good fried food, and roughly 12,000 TVs around the place. The Barney’s in Westwood is particularly great because of their near-constant Happy Hours and other deals on drinks. They’ve also got one of the best trivia nights in LA, Wednesdays at 9pm, where there’s a large contingent of UCLA professors to compete against, and $4 PBRs to make your inevitable defeat that much more palatable.
The Wellesbourne’s a bar on Pico with an aggressive British pub theme that we strongly approve of. It feels like a rich Englishman’s country estate in here, with big leather chairs, and dark wood furnishings. It’s also your best bet when you’re killing time before a movie at the Westside Pavilion, not just because you can drink Sazeracs instead of wandering around Target looking at sh*tty lamps, but also because they have an entire room covered in bookshelves with actual books to read.
The Nickel Mine is an absolutely massive bar on Pico that gets extremely crowded whenever there’s a big game on TV. But at all other times, it’s a surprisingly low-key spot to catch up with friends. They’ve got board games, a huge beer list, and big lounge chairs you can sit in and drink whiskey like you’re on Succession. There’s also an awesome back room that’s ideal for company events, and an extremely serviceable menu of pizza for when you start to get hungry.
Cheviot Hills is where rich Fox Studio gremlins retire each night, so it’s the last place you’d expect to find a fun English-style brewpub. But that’s exactly what The Stalking Horse is - a brewery and pub serving ESBs, wee heavy ales, and milk stouts they make in-house. The beers are solid (our favorite is the Furry Walls barleywine), and there’s enough food to get you through the night. The fish and chips is good, and the pretzel bites with mustard are great for a snack.
There’s a good chance you’ve driven by West End countless times and never noticed it - it’s right on Westwood Blvd., and doesn’t look like much from the outside, after all. But inside, you’ll find a great little cocktail bar that’s never too crowded, and is a perfect place for a drink when you want to escape the chaos of your life (or traffic on Wilshire). They’ve got a killer Happy Hour - barrel-aged Old Fashioneds for $6, sangria for $5 - but the cocktails are good regardless of the price. Our go-to is usually the Pieter The Elder, a rum and beer drink that tastes like boozy lemonade. Or, if you’re really getting after it, the West End Punch is a mysterious house concoction that they limit to two per person. You should Lyft here.
If you know one thing about Sonny McLean’s, it’s probably that it’s where Boston sports fans congregate on game days when they’re being shunned everywhere else. But you probably don’t know that it’s also one of the city’s best dive bars, with cheap, strong drinks, plenty of corners to have serious conversations in, and friendly bartenders that call you “hon.” They’ve also got 40 beers on tap, so you can come here with your most obnoxious beer-drinking friend whenever they start to complain there’s no good beer in the area.
“Wait, there’s a Plan Check on Sawtelle?!?” is a pretty common response whenever we suggest this spot for a drink and a burger in the area. It may be the least-known of this local chain’s three locations, but they’ve got all the things that makes Plan Check great. That means excellent cocktails and one of LA’s best cheeseburgers, the Plan Check Burger, which involves ketchup leather and Americanized dashi cheese. Also important to note: Their $7 Old Fashioned during Happy Hour might be the best drink for the price in the city.
Fellow is a huge restaurant right in the middle of Westwood Village, and as such, it also has an equally huge bar. Cocktails here are surprisingly good, and definitely stronger than you’d expect from the $8 price tag. The Papa Doble tastes like a paloma made with rum, and is excellent, but the classic cocktails are usually what we go for, like the negroni or the Aviation. If you’re a student and your parents are in town for Homecoming, this is a great place to have in your back pocket once you’ve exhausted your usual spots.
We’re not sure what it is about this part of town and bars for LA’s biggest rivals, but San Francisco Saloon is a spot for all things 49ers, Warriors, and Giants. It’s a big, dark bar on Pico that, outside of game times (when the Saloon basically becomes the Bay Area), is a neighborhood spot that plays ’80s rock, serves a solid burger, and has affordable prices that you don’t often see in LA. Sit at the bar, get a burger and a beer, and chat with the bartender about what this part of Pico was like in 1988. There’s also a parking lot out back, which is always a plus.
Mom’s is, without question, a college bar. But it’s also a fun place to party like you still don’t get hangovers that keep you in bed for 24 hours straight. Their Happy Hour is four hours long every day, and features $4 well drinks and $3 beers. The floors are sticky, the music’s loud, and there are multiple beer pong games happening at all times. But sometimes, that’s exactly what you want in a bar.