California Dive Bars

Any recent sightings? LA? SF? Oakland?

5 dollar(ish) or less well drinks/beers. No artisanal bullshit. Pinball, jukebox, day drinkers, billiards, sports on tv, a plus. Food optional or limited can be a plus. Pickled eggs and sausages, popcorn, peanuts, all a plus.

I feel like we are extinction watch. Help me out. It’s not just about the money. Its about the atmosphere and clientele. I miss them.

Some possibles below I’ve been to em all, not all in the last year.

Frank n Hank, 518 S. Western, LA

Montecarlo, 3514 W. Third St, LA (this place is absolutely disgusting. Glorious)

Drawing Room, 1800 Hillhurst Ave, LA (free hotdogs for drinkers a plus)

The King Eddy, 131 E. 5th St (lots of history there including century old LA Jazz history)

The Burgundy Room, 1621 1/2 N Cahuenga, LA (appreciate no TV no distractions, dark drinking hole, prices have crept up)

Mister Bings, 201 Columbus Ave, SF (love this place!)

The Graduate, 6202 Claremont Ave (Oakland/Berkeley) (free popcorn; borderline too nice)

Frolic Room, 6245 Hollywood Blvd, LA (trading off it’s Bukowski history, prices crept up, still kinda cool spot)

Dume Room, 29169 Heathercliff Rd Ste 106, Malibu (god bless this little oasis of filth - it may be gone, I need to check)

Joe Josts, 2803 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA (plusses include pickled eggs and scraggly sandwiches; unique: used to make its own centerfold calendar; negatives - just beer no booze)

Power House Bar, 1714 Highland Ave, teasing a reopening. I mean in 30 years they still didn’t fix the gaping holes in the drywall, or improve on green label whiskey and the full rainbow of Dekuypers so not sure what the hold up is…

HMS Bounty, 3357 Wilshire. Points for plaques on bar for deceased regulars. Drinks still cheap. Connected to a SRO. Don’t get too drunk and fall down the basement steps to the bathroom. Great onion rings!


Jay Dee Cafe in Alhambra


Al’s Cocktails in San Gabriel

They open at 7 a.m.

Bring your own food … Carl’s Jr., Mitsuwa, Dominos and Papa John’s all good choices.


early opening hours always the sign of quality


It doesn’t get more iconic than Berkeleyt’s Missouri Lounge.
Undergoing post-covid pains plus upgrading. You’ll have to see how it comes out of its cocoon.

1 Like

The ghost of Phil Spector lives in this hellhole

Nice call! been forever for me since I’ve been there. Hope they don’t pull a Hotsy-Totsy Club. Gotta preserve the filth and keep the prices down!

Never been but on our rat-track: Fizzees, on Geary Blvd, SF. Notable for the German Shepherd who sat outside its back door, woofing impatiently, begging his human companion to come out and take him home. And down the street, Would You Believe, which has to be notable since it’s been there since, ???, when WAS that TV show?


when the dogs complain and wanna leave you know it’s quality


Rainbow Bar and Grill, 9015 Sunset Blvd, Weho, i mean extra points for a pirate ship themed upstairs bar, metal heads, porn stars and motorcycles, really really shitty service, but hell the drinks are reasonably cheap and the spot is pretty sketchy at times. I don’t know if pretty good pizza is a plus or minus. You don’t come for the food. I used to like it more. Verdict, probably too big to be considered a dive bar. Restaurant area disqualifying.

1 Like

Gas Lite, 2030 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, free popcorn, don’t come on karaoke night, check your booth for vomit before seating, nuff said.


Blipsy’s, 369 N. Western, LA, a few dozen old school video games and pinball machines, some of them work, jukebox, drinks are cheap, cash only, it’s decent.

1 Like

Toronado Pub, 547 Haight St. SF. Good selection of beer, a couple in the range of

Never had food from there, used to just grab a sausage from Rosamunde next door (since closed) and they’d let you eat it there. Doubt there’s any pinball / billiards amenities, just went for the beer.


That’s a good call. It’s been there a while.

1 Like


+1 my favorite dive in SF is Toronado, which also happens to be the best beer bar in the city. Cash only, jukebox in the back that has mostly metal :metal:. Rosamunde’s spot has been taken over by a former employee there and is now Berliner Berliner, also serving sausages and the like.

Also, back when I used to commute downtown regularly, Glen Park Station in Glen Park was a regular stop on the way back home. Not much of a beer selection but the drinks are cheap. Sometimes they had free hot dogs in a crock pot in the back.


Good info about Berliner Berliner! It’s been about a while since I’ve been to Toronado. Mmm, currywurst

I remember when I recommended Toronado to my beer-loving friend on a rainy night after watching a bizarre but rather great movie (an Estonian tragicomedy) at The Roxy; he was skeptical at first, but “It Took the Night to Believe”


Are the Li Po, Buddha or Bow Bow on Grant still alive ? Anything else in Chinatown/near Chinatown apart from Mister Bings ?

I used to love the Saloon up the street from there.

Then a stagger from Bings to Vesuvios but something tells me Vesuvios is now pricy and different. Spot used to be cool.

I think they’re still there. I used to visit Li Po after dinner and a few bars around the Mission, SOMA, and Union Square area (but not a ton of dive bars) and then end with late-night noodles at Sam Wo on Clay or New Sun Hong Kong on Broadway and Columbus/Grant. Saloon is good. I’m not the go-to guy for SF’s bar scene now; I moved to LA for the most part and when I’m in SF, it’s usually a pretty quick affair. Open to learning more about good dive bars aroudn the area; good thread idea!

1 Like

Yeah same here I happily call LA home now. I still have family in the Bay Area where I lived many years too and find myself there fairly often. I still remember what my drunkard friends at the Albion would preach namely that work is the curse of the drinking man. You need to work a lot less to drink in some places compared to others these days. And no matter how flush I may feel it’s just not in my DNA to drink 25 dollar cocktails or 200 dollar bottles of wine and like that. Give me a five dollar beer and shot special, a nice buzz and a twenty in my pocket for later any day. Thanks for participating I’m learning about some new spots and about you fellow drinkers too. Cheers.

Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr