It’s got a reputation in the rest of LA as being the mysterious East, but Ktown has the fastest growing nightlife, most interesting atmosphere and best lounges around. Yes, you might get mad dogged randomly by a local tough, only to have your meal bought for you at the next to place by the sloppy but pleasant sushi chef on his night off. Its charm is the mystery behind its logic – and the best place to contemplate that is somewhere with lots of good food, better company and a relaxed atmosphere. Here are some of the best dive bars and lounges to dip your fingers into Ktown’s bowl of fun-
1. OB Bear – 3002 W 7th St.
What do bears, beer and fried chicken have in common? Who cares! With affordable pitchers, delicious chicken, and among the most relaxed atmospheres in this city OB Bear is worth the drive. Seating is no problem, parking is a breeze, and the security guard at the bar next door will crack jokes with you about the weirdos at his spot. A perfect place to start or finish the night off, or to just set sail on a steady stream of beer, OB Bear tops this list easily.
-Runner up: The Prince
The restaurant from the movie Chinatown (in the scene where Nicholson says he likes breathing through his nose), this place has good food and a similarly relaxed aesthetic, although it suffers a bit from its majesty. Overpriced and a bit stiff, the bartenders are friendly enough to make up for it, but still a second to OB Bear’s chill domination.
2. Frank N Hanks – 518 Western Ave
You know you’re in a dive bar when you’re shoving a whiskey shot and a beer into your system for the same price as two Gatorades at the local convenience store. Frank N Hanks isn’t the only dive bar in Ktown, as will be evident further down the list, but it is the purest. Low light, good music, darts, a pool table, and a nice Asian lady behind the bar who like the Oracle in the Matrix knows your future and gives it to you straight. Easily worth the journey, although braving the train or having a straight edge cousin to drive is recommended.
-Runner Up: R Bar
One of the novelty-esque bars in Ktown, R Bar requires you to know a password to get in. Luckily (or lamely) they post it on their Twitter page, which does kind of defeat the purpose but can make you seem cool to your clueless date. And dates there are aplenty: R Bar’s low-lit, not quite pirate ship ambience makes it a strong candidate to get the amorous workout started, although prepare to bring your wallet as drinks can be pricey. An almost upscale dive bar, R Bar shines as a first or second date spot but doesn’t quite crest the chill wave.
3. Dan Sung Sa – 3317 W. 6th St.
With a mural of what I think is Kim Jung Il smiling at his former South Korean nemesis along the entrance, Dan Sung Sa is so chill that maybe those two could’ve worked out their issues over a bowl of steaming ramen and some short ribs. Following in the Korean tradition of not drinking without something delicious to eat, Dan Sung Sa reigns supreme as the chillest straight Korean restaurant around. The food is delicious, which is good because you’re going to need padding for the copious amounts of soju that will be flooding your nervous system. It’s got a great staff, a near rustic aesthetic, and is my favorite place to take people on their first trip to Ktown. Delicious and affordable, parking can be a bit annoying but a valet is present to ease your troubles.
-Runner Up: ?
There’s such a great host of competitors around, from Chunju Han-il Kwan and Seongbukdong (also on 6th), to DGM on 8th, that it’s impossible to pick a single one. The list is so huge and well stocked that it honestly boils down to taste and sense of culinary sluttiness. Check out yelp and bookmark a list, they’re all worth a try.
4. HMS Bounty – 3357 Wilshire Blvd.
The only straight American spot on the list, HMS Bounty is old school LA and predates Ktown itself. Luckily it’s like my dad and embraces its age with a healthy dose of nonchalance, exemplified by the old fashioned prices. Grab some tasty fries and a baseball steak for super cheap, then nudge a seat at the bar next to some playful drunks and wash it all down with some great mixed drinks. A good place to end the night, the Bounty is easy to find, being on Wilshire and boasting a huge boat shaped sign.
-Runner up: Monte Carlo
Want to annihilate all memory of your heinous workday in an act of synaptic genocide? Want to do it with likeminded people who have maybe run out of victims? Then Monte Carlo is the place for you. A true dive, Monte Carlo is so dive-y the only woman present is behind the bar and despite her pleasant demeanor she probably has a shock stick ready to curb un-wanted admirers. A fun place to drink with a buddy and get sorrowful like a Russian, Monte Carlo serves too niche an audience to make it a contender.
5. Touhmi – 3500 W. 6th St. Ste. 311
Inside the mall at Wilshire Center, Touhmi lords it over 6th street outside with an outdoor deck so you can laugh at all the silly commoners as you munch on some tempura. With a slick sheen, affordable beer and nice service, Touhmi makes the list as the hip spot to check out.
Runner Up: Café Bleu
A great sportsbar with some tasty bar food, Café Bleu also has a decent beer selection for Ktown and a pretty chill staff. It would make the list but for Touhmi’s awesome outdoor deck, which is very difficult to beat.