Call it a revival, a renaissance, a resurgence. Whatever you choose, there’s no denying the Downtown Los Angeles drinking and dining scene is in full superbloom, with more options opening every week. The area’s prolific workforce comprises hordes of locals and those arriving from far-flung neighborhoods each day via the Metro and freeways, and for both of these groups there are plenty of time-sensitive food and drink deals to be had. Read on for the best happy hour Downtown L.A. hotspots, new and old, offering a range of experiences for all tastes and budgets.
Ever the promoter of transparent prices, Barcito’s “Aperitivo Hour” lists a flat $9 price for drink and a “snack trio.” Cocktails on offer include spritzes, shandies, boilermakers, and a not-too-shabby selection of wines. Bar bites are available, and all tips are included, so you can set your budget ahead of time. Aperitivo Hour runs all night on Mondays, from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday.
“Euro-style” newcomer Bar Franca has emerged as a quiet winner in the heart of downtown after opening in the fall of 2018. Led by the Must co-founder Rachel Thomas and local cocktailer Laura Lindsay, this stylish den emphasizes hospitality and craft in a way that makes it feel timeless. From Tuesday to Friday, 4- 6 p.m., you’ll find $8 classic cocktails such as Pegu Club and Bobby Burns; $6 local drafts and $5 pilsners, $8 red, white, and prosecco.
Clayton's Public House
Clayton’s Public House embraces its Historic Core address with fervor, housing a funhouse of Victoriana complete with lustrous dark wood, repurposed architectural fixtures and plenty of carnival photos on the walls. Appropriate for a throwback establishment, the happy hour deals are deep and happen every day from 3-7 p.m. Watch for $5-6 beer and wine, $7 well drinks, a $9 craft cocktail and some discounted, elevated bar food to soak it up.
No L.A. nightlife roundup would be complete without Cole’s. Year after year for over a century, despite - or in spite of - the Cole’s/Phillippe’s controversy over who invented the iconic French Dip sandwich, this cool, dark bar has delighted Angelenos with tasty sandwiches and boozy libations. Weekdays from 4-7 p.m., Cole's offers certain classic cocktails and snacks interestingly priced at $5.94 and fries or tots with the purchase of a drink for $1.37. Who can say no to tots under $2?
The bar and lounge area in DISTRICT at the Bloc (inside the Sheraton Hotel) offers a daily happy hour from 2-7 p.m. with an $8 craft cocktail of the day, $6 craft beers, $6.50 well drinks and wines along with discounted small plates. With lofty rhetoric on food quality and farm-to-table ethos in a down-to-earth industrial space, it has been a favorite for hotel guests and locals alike since 2015.
Everson Royce Bar
Known locally as E.R.B., this Arts District favorite was a pioneer in its ‘hood and continues to offer great happy hour deals in an atmosphere that takes its food and drink seriously, but little else. The cozy bar and spacious garden patio host a number of daily specials, including Monday happy hour’s “No Mames Mondays,” with discounted margaritas and nachos (and a story to go with them), “Wine Wednesdays” from 5-8 p.m., and a happy hour with specials on just about all the drinks you can think of along with free chips and salsa Tuesday-Friday from 4-7 p.m.
Horse Thief BBQ
Located at Grand Central Market, Horse Thief BBQ recently launched “Cantina Happy Hour” three days a week. What it might lack in frequency, it makes up for in duration. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3-9 p.m. they offer Tex Mex classics such as brisket & sausage chili for $9 and bbq brisket nachos ($11); and bar specials like $4 tallboys, $8 wines, $6 drafts and $12 beer flights. Not a bad way to close out an afternoon of weekday market browsing.
Imperial Western Beer Company
After more than a decade in development, Imperial Western Beer Company opened last year to well-deserved fanfare on the Union Station property. In what has become a modern DTLA tradition, Imperial Western is an ornate homage to LA’s past. The massive, Art Deco-accented space has the feel of a beer cathedral as much as a historic way-station for thirsty travelers. From 4-7 p.m. weekdays select pints go for $5 and pitchers for $18 (including some higher ABV offerings, just saying) and the neighborhood favorite $1 oysters.
Since it opened in 2018, The Mermaid has developed a steady happy hour following, for good reason. Located inside Honda Plaza, this nautical-themed Little Tokyo bar slots neatly into the niche between dive bar and fancy cocktail lounge, with an emphasis on inclusion and keeping things fun. In the service of fun, happy hour runs from 5-8 p.m. seven days a week. Wash down discounted bar snacks such as wings, tater tots, hearts-of-palm ceviche and tropical Chex mix with low-priced well drinks, wine, beer, punch and $10 boilermakers.
Nick + Stef's Steakhouse
Nick & Stef’s upscale happy hour allows budget drinkers to feel like ballers for a surprising length of time. On weekdays you can sit in the lavish dining room, gawk at the dry-aging beef, and from 2-7 p.m. enjoy wallet-friendly cheese plates, apps and oysters along with $5-$6 beers and wine, $7 select cocktails.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar DTLA
Located within the larger ROW DTLA pedestrian campus, Rappahannock Oyster Bar DTLA is the first West Coast outpost in a family of restaurants owned and operated by the Rappahannock Oyster Company of Virginia. Get your East Coast bivalve fix at the daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m., and all night on Mondays. Deals include $5 beer, $7 red, white, rose and $8 sparkling wine, $10 shochu and spritz cocktails, a $1.50 featured oyster, and reduced-price appetizers.
Seven Grand continues to hold its own as a standout in the neighborhood, the city, and we daresay nationally. The vintage-inspired bar boasts over 120 different whiskies and whiskeys (ask your bartender the difference), along with pool tables and enough taxidermy on the walls to feel like a hunting lodge. Be dazzled by the seemingly endless shelves of bottles while enjoying $7 cocktails, $11 boilermakers and $5 beers every day until 8 p.m.
Confused that a bar that opens nightly at 8 p.m. would be in a best happy hour list? We were too, but Wendell is a place that subverts lots of expectations. It is a low-key neighborhood spot that serves hot dogs and touts classic rock memorabilia on the walls, but is cleaner and more welcoming than the self-proclaimed #divebar label would imply. Locals rejoice in the lack of pretension, as well as the all-night happy hour on Sunday and Monday. Break out of your weekly routine to enjoy the $10 Meatzilla burger and beer combo, $6 well drinks and draft Old Fashioneds, and $5 select drafts from 8 p.m. until close.
Wolf & Crane
Wolf & Crane calls itself “Little Tokyo’s Neighborhood Bar,” and it definitely checks the boxes of a great local with its relaxed atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable staff and legit happy hour deals. It is a must-visit for fans of Japanese whisky. Enjoy $5 local beers, $5 house wine, $5 well highballs ($7 to make it a cocktail, and FYI their well whisky is Akashi White Oak) from 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and all day on Sunday. Other weekly specials include 50% off top shelf liquors all night on Mondays and whisky flights on Tuesdays, so you can expand your palate without contracting your bank account too much.