Visitors usually think of Hollywood, when they think of LA nightlife, but Downtown LA has some of the coolest clubs and bars in Los Angeles, whether you're looking for a drink with friends, a wild club experience or a romantic tryst. Some make the list for their unique setting, others for the vibe or the view. These are some of the coolest bars and clubs in Downtown LA.
The Edison is a multidimensional club in a former power plant. The exposed brick walls and generators create a gritty backdrop for an elegant 1920's themed subterranean lounge and dance club. The venue is broken up into a variety of spaces from intimate curtained booths to lounge areas, a stage and dance floor and an upstairs smoking lounge that combined accommodate well over 1000 people on an average weekend night. The elegant dress code is strictly enforced, but anyone dressed appropriately can get in.
In addition to amazing cocktails, the food is great. If you're on a budget, arrive early and get your order in during happy hour.
The Crocker is a nightclub in an old, elegant bank building, with part of the club inside the safe deposit vault and booths in the former safe deposit box viewing cages. The back room Ghost Bar is so named for its paranormal residents who have appeared to a variety of staff. Open Thursday through Saturday.
The Rooftop Bar at The Standard hotel in Downtown LA is party central all summer. Hotel guests have priority, but the daytime pool parties and club nights are open to the public. In addition to the cool retro mod furnishings, the topiary garden, and the pool, the view looking up at the surrounding skyscrapers is the coolest feature of this club. The Lobby at the Standard is also a pretty happening place when it's cooler or the roof is full.
Far Bar is accessed through a narrow gap between two buildings (Chop Suey Cafe and Lounge, and Sushi Toshi) in Little Tokyo. The tiny gated passage opens up to a slightly wider space where fairy lights are strung over a dozen outdoor tables with blazing heat lamps. The bar itself is a small indoor room at the back of the alley, connected to Chop Suey Cafe.
Villains Tavern is the perfect name for this venue out in the middle of the manufacturing district that seems a perfect place for a clandestine meeting. Until you've arrived, it definitely feels like you must be in the wrong neighborhood. But the locals have no trouble finding and packing the place. The lively, casual crowd may lean a bit alternative but is anything but underworldly.
Perch is a terrace bar and restaurant on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building. It's not known for its food or cocktails, but if you stick with wine and beer, the view alone is worth the visit.
For more of a club experience with a view, Elevate Lounge and adjacent Takami Restaurant have a 21st-floor view of the LA skyline. There can be long waits to get into Elevate, but a full dinner at Takami comes with a personal escort over to Elevate.
If you want to dive right into the heart of LA's Latino club scene, the Mayan is the place to start. It's a huge club with Mayan-themed architecture. In addition to the vast main room with go-go dancers and light show, there's an upstairs room dedicated to salsa and a downstairs hip-hop room. Unlike some Hollywood clubs that only let beautiful people through the door, you'll see all types dressed to the 9s, having fun dancing up a storm at Club Mayan.
The Gallery Bar and Cognac Room at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel is a wonderfully elegant escape in Downtown Los Angeles, a great place for a quiet drink after a dinner or a show. There's live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. The elegance comes with a somewhat hefty price tag on their signature martinis and Manhattans, but similar to other high-end establishments in the area.