The Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles is known for historical homes, palm-lined boulevards, and the notable celebrities who have laid roots there, from modern stars like Katherine Heigl and Alexander Skarsgård to past cinema legends such as Walt Disney. It’s a bit strange, then, that it’s also where you’ll find what many describe as LA’s best dive bar. But once you visit the Drawing Room–quite possibly the best-kept nightlife secret this side of the Hollywood Hills–you’ll appreciate the irony, as it provides a wonderfully gritty counterpoint to the posh glamour that surrounds it. Show up here on your next night out with friends and you just might have a new regular meet-up spot.
While some of the swankier lounges in Los Feliz emphasize mixology over mingling, you’ll find the opposite to be the case at the Drawing Room. Though the bar has a full range of spirits and mixers, don’t arrive expecting to hobnob with a discerning clientele discussing the provenance of the vermouth. This no-frills, zero-pretense bar is the place to order a gin and tonic or a beer while you hang out in the dim lighting and swap stories with the regulars. So order your drinks and then cue up some tunes on the jukebox–a friendly mix of rock and R&B–before challenging your friend to a game of Cricket on the dartboard. (Naturally, the loser buys the next round.)
Once you’ve felt the thrill of victory, or tasted bitter defeat, head back to your red vinyl booth underneath a mural of a Chinese dragon and relax in a way that’s all but impossible in a fancier place. As the din of the bar bustles around you, an impressive array of customers from all walks of life are there to share the moment, from longtime regulars to Hollywood hipsters looking for some ironic fun.
Recently, popular Los Angeles blog LAist placed the establishment on its 2013 “Best Dive Bars” list, in the company of other great watering holes such as Chez Jay and Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill. Despite this, the Drawing Room is still something of a hidden treasure, buried in a nondescript strip mall waiting for you and your pals to discover it.