The Best Bars of LA Live
Downtown Party Scene By Staples Center
Occassinally, rock stars like Gene Simmons of KISS perform at LA Live for special events.
LA Live is seemingly always active with activity, be it for a Lakers game or other sporting event, a movie premier, concert or any other activity that takes place in the centerpiece of downtown Los Angeles.
But there's more to LA Live than just events. The one-block area across from Staples Center is as packed with restaurants and bars as the foul lane at Staples when Kobe drives to the hoop.
And now, shuttle buses are bringing in students from the USC campus, creating a very lively college party scene.
LA Live is, without a doubt, very much alive. Here's a look at the most happening bars in and around this growing and vibrant area of downtown Los Angeles.
It's alive at LA Live, Los Angeles' downtown gathering spot.
Despite the ESPN Zone being a layup from Staples, it's the place from three-point range that is all the rage.
The Yard House is on the back side of LA Live but it's the premium pre- and post-game gathering spot for games and events.
The large bar area makes for oustanding mingling and for beer lovers, the lineup of a hundred or so taps rivals the lineup of the Lakers.
The food is terrific, and that's another big draw. Even for those not going to games or concerts, the Yard House has become a destination for lunch and dinner.
Located on West Olympic, it also has a Happy Hour running from 3-6 p.m., and 10-close (3-close on Mondays) featuring $3.50 domestic pints, $4 craft/imports, $4.25 well drinks, $5 martinis, $2 off wine by the glass half off select appetizers and pizza and and sliders for $6.50. Before and after games, when the crowd is at its peak, this place is a "slaaaaam dunk!"
When it comes to watching sports before going to see sports, nothing matches the ESPN Zone. The home of Sports Center Los Angeles and AM-710, it's much larger than first meets the eye. That's because there are several rooms – and bars – inside and out. There are so many TVs, it's what heaven must be like for sports-watching junkies (the manager from New York needs to learn a bit about college football, however).
There are $4 pre-game beers on the patio and Happy Hour is 4-7 p.m. The atmosphere is less lively here than at the Yard House; it seems as if people are simply stopping in for one or two before the game rather than making it a destination as part of the game or concert experience.
You want a rum drink at LA Live? Go to Trader Vic's.
You won't see any werewolfs drinking pina coladas at this Trader Vic's but there will be a lot of people with perfect hair. This legendary upscale tiki bar has a home next to the Yard House and while it doesn't have those mad scientists bartenders in the white lab coats like the original did in Beverly Hills, it does have the same potent tropical drinks. In addition to the bar, there is a separate area for dinner.
There's also music at the Conga Room and "nightlife bowling," for lack of a better term, at Lucky Strike Lanes.
Music is a big part of LA Live and the Nokia Plaza courtyard often has events such as free concerts and radio promotions. Two music venues, Nokia Theater and the even more intimate, multi-level Club Nokia, hosts concerts. A movie theater, just opened in late October, has already hosted red-carpet Hollywood-style premiers.
Nobody will go hungry here, for the Yard House and ESPN Zone are merely the tip-off to the food games here.
Wolfgang Pucks is the largest place, running practically the entire length of the plaza. Rock 'n Fish – which may have the best clam chowder outside of Boston and be sure and have a Navy Grog – is bigger than the original in Manhattan Beach. Fleming's, the upscale steakhouse, and Rosa Mexicano, are two other spots.
Yet there's more. And not at LA Live. Few of the venues are open past 11 p.m., or midnight at the latest, although the Yard House will stay open until 1 a.m., if it's cranking. So for those later-night party people, two choices await just a few blocks away.
Wokcano, a Japanese-style restaurant with a late-night Happy Hour (it’s a few safe blocks away on 7th Street) and Varnish, a funky diner that's really a bar, are two fun, cool spots for night owls. Mixed drinks at Varnish can cost $12 but the bartenders really know how to make it. Wolcano is located at 800 W. 7th Street and Varnish is at 118 E. 6th Street.