There are those who prefer to battle loneliness with a drink at a “clean well-lighted place” —as Hemingway put it—and then there are KCRW listeners, who clearly favor a side of grit and grime with their beer.
After we reported yesterday on dramatic changes coming to the legendary King Eddy Saloon, we got about 100 responses on our Facebook page. Comments ranged from remembrances of other storied institutions long since closed, to insider tips on the best bar stools in Southern California. We’ve compiled them in one easy-to-use map.
View KCRW Best Dive Bars in a larger map
Our drinking experts gave rave reviews to more than two dozen dives, including Hank’s Bar in downtown Los Angeles; Ferns in Long Beach; and Goat Hill Tavern in Costa Mesa. One constant refrain was that any true dive offers “darts, pool, and cheap drinks.” Joints that open at sunrise got some special love. Joel Forrest Janecek said, “It ain’t a dive bar if it doesn’t open at 6am, serves food you can eat, and Karaoke is a word anyone in the establishment can pronounce.” What else is a must? “Cold glasses and friendly patrons” said Gabriel Madrigal, while Christine Prettyman appreciates “people who don’t slip roofies.”
As for other bars that have hollered their “last call,” we heard laments about the Last Knight in Costa Mesa, the Escape Room, the Firefly in Hollywood and the old downtown haunt Al’s Bar. Brandie Mata heard yesterday’s show and wrote, “I heard this as I drove home from work! I really just wanted to drive straight to King Eddy Saloon!” Since the historic Skid Row watering hole is open under existing management for another month, there’s time.