Many Pride celebrations last year were cancelled across the globe. In 2021, cities everywhere are making up for lost time. And some of the gay bars that survived a loss in business, have set up GoFundMe accounts, seeking support from loyal patrons.
If you're looking to celebrate for Pride, or anytime, consider these 15 gay bars in greater Los Angeles. More below.
“LGBTQ bars have traditionally been used as more than just a place to get a drink,” said Scott Craig, co-owner of Akbar in Silver Lake. “They are a gathering places, community hubs, safe spaces in a predominantly heterosexual culture, a place we can plant a flag and claim as our own. The loss of these spaces are devastating to the queer community.”
Faultline, another “iconic bar,” was mainly populated by members of the LGBTQ leather kink and fetish community, BlackManWhiteBaby said. “We need these bars because they remind us of the fight and evolution of civil rights for queer people in this country.”
Want to dance the night away? Check out Rocco’s WeHo, which is co-owned by NSYNC singer Lance Bass. “We did not even mean for this to have a dance floor, but the community really wanted it,” he said.
Rocco’s front patio is great for people watching. “You can’t beat our location,” Bass said. “We call ourselves the heart of WeHo because we are right in the middle of everything. This is the only area in the boulevard where you can see the beautiful Hollywood sign in the Hollywood Hills.”
While Rocco’s indoor restaurant has a sports bar feel, its backyard patio — formerly its parking lot — has a more exciting vibe that, according to Bass, “transports you to another place.” There’s an outdoor shower in which dancers get to gyrate and show off their moves.
The tea from Bass: He’s also expanding his reach with a Rocco’s location in Palm Springs and has plans for the space formerly occupied by West Hollywood nightclub Rage, which closed last year. “This is the first gay disco bar and nightclub I ever went to,” Bass said. “I was straight and had a girlfriend at the time, so this is really a full-circle moment. Now that we are coming out of this pandemic, people are ready to dance and enjoy themselves for the next five years. I want to create a live-performance area with a huge stage and bring entertainment back to West Hollywood. It’s exciting to see how the area is revitalizing.”
“If I’m asking my guests to dine in the parking lot, I’m going to make it the most beautiful patio in town,” owner Jeff Douek said, adding that his plan is to install an outdoor bar this summer as well.
WeHo Bistro converted its loading area into an attractive patio space. Douek installed 10,000 Christmas lights that hang above diners and spackle-painted the floor.
The tea from suit designer Leon Elias Wu: “The restaurant has such a nice atmosphere. I go to their amazing patio to meet with other LGBTQ artists and creatives and discuss projects over their fantastic brunch. They have a killer Bloody Mary, and I can bring my dog. Can’t wait to go there for Pride.”
If you’re tired of bar-hopping during Pride Month, consider hanging at the Skybar at the Mondrian for views and its new drink, Summer Pride (made from Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom vodka, passion fruit liquor, guava puree, lemon juice and Redbull).
Also if you are visiting from out of town or want a staycation, the hotel is offering discounted rooms for Pride.
“Skybar’s patio has always been a favorite amongst West Hollywood and L.A. locals as well as VIPs and hotel guests,” said Aidan Marus, director of nightlife for the Mondrian Los Angeles. “People just love the ambiance, the panoramic views and floral backdrop.”
The Abbey has grown during the last 30 years, but it has maintained the original coffeehouse atmosphere, said general manager Todd Barnes.
“Our patio remains a focal point and prime destination for gatherings at all times of day and is the perfect backdrop for our weekend drag brunch performances,” Barnes said. “Our signature Abbey martinis or Abbey mojitos are customer favorites during Pride season, and our new sandwiches for Out on Robertson along with our key lime pie are an absolute must.”
The Abbey is an official dropoff location collecting donated nonperishable foods, new footwear, socks and underwear for L.A. Pride’s monthlong Pride Makes a Difference initiative in partnership with nonprofit Big Sunday.
“Harriet’s Rooftop, which sits above the 1 Hotel, is really quite special,” Molinari said. “Besides the food and incredible views, the venue uses all reclaimed and upcycled material … It’s important to us at the H.Wood Group to align ourselves with other like-minded businesses that give back by bringing awareness through action. Those intentions vibrate throughout the space, which makes for a magical place to be a part of and experience.”
Molinari will be host and DJ for MarXcha’s Sunny Pride Brunch, which starts at noon Sunday and June 20. (Sunny Vodka drinks named after influential LGBTQ pioneers will be served.)
Colleen O’Brien, assistant general manager of La Bohème, describes the restaurant’s outdoor patio as “eclectic bohemian.”
“It’s a little bit of this and that. Many people on social media have compared it to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ because of our unique lamps,” O’Brien said. “The couches, paintings and rugs give it a lounge-like feel. It makes me think of ‘Moulin Rouge’ in a way or an artist’s apartment in Paris. There’s a very artsy vibe.”
On Sunday, La Bohème will be open from 10 a.m. to close for a Pride open bar event with munchie food items such as sliders, wings and fries, bottle service and a DJ.
The tea from fashion designer Dalia MacPhee: “The restaurant is a staple for many people in the LGBTQ community. I have always been inspired as a designer whenever I go there. Often when I lounge in the bohemian/renaissance outdoor garden, I imagine being transported to another place and time, and the creations flow. It’s amazing how they were able to make the outside area reflect the heart of the inside. It’s like taking the art gallery to you.”
Co-owner Jacob Shaw is committed to creating a vibe that matches Beaches’ commitment to inclusiveness. “As a family-owned, gay-owned business, we always want to keep that neighborhood identity,” Shaw said. “We want to be welcoming to everyone, so people feel like this is a safe place to come.”
Beaches offers patio space and a menu with an assortment of Cuban dishes. On the weekends, the restaurant and bar has a “fantastic, fun” drag brunch with bottomless mimosas and a Pride happy hour.
“We also have a special $10 Pride menu where we picked some of our popular authentic dishes, like our Cuban fried rice, and will be offering that as well,” Shaw said.
Neighborhood dive bar Trunks is open again — much to the delight of its fans.
The tea from BlackManWhiteBaby: “I love Trunks because of its diversity. It’s one of my favorite bars. I never felt out of place there. The drinks are strong, tasty and cheap. There is always a feeling of being welcome regardless of the color of one’s skin or sexual preference. I would sometimes go by myself because it was always so easy to make new friends there, and it felt like that cool, local, friendly pub. I mean, I’ve seen guys there with their moms.”
“The cool thing about our patio is its location, especially for Pride events and parades,” said Mat Yuriditsky, who co-owns the eatery with Scot Rogers. “The colorful lighting and fun atmosphere gives it a very chill vibe. Our customers relax on electric-blue high stools, giving them a bird’s-eye view of the colorful nightlife passing by. And in the hot summer months, it is quite a view. Customers rave over our Pride Punch, a secret concoction of Pride-inducing flavors, which packs quite a punch and quenches the thirst. And it’s always the life of the party.”
In the eatery, check out the nifty LGBTQ-themed artwork on the walls, which was curated by celebrity decor specialist Bob Pranga.
Owner John Arakaki believes the bar and restaurant has “the best view” of Santa Monica Boulevard. “We have an upscale vibe without the pretentiousness,” Arakaki said. “Our patio was designed by Justin Howard from Flaming Flower Productions to be fun, creative, practical and accessible. All the colorful characters and strong individuals make this community vibrant and special.”
The tea from trans activist and shoe designer Nik Kacy: “During the pandemic, LGBTQ bars like St. Felix have had to make do with what outdoor space they have to make it work. I love how they expanded their patio to the sidewalk. Using their outdoor area in order to keep doors open safely has been inspiring to see.”
H.wood’s new restaurant, Sant’olina at the Beverly Hilton, has views of the city, with a Mediterranean twist. Molinari said: “It’s sunny L.A. meets Tel Aviv that blends the two cultures into extremely unique but traditional, mind-blowing, delicious-tasting dishes that keep you coming back for more.”
“Everything about Akbar is special,” said Craig, who co-owns the bar with Peter Alexander. “Luckily we have a parking lot and we’ve done what we can to make it as pleasant as possible.
Our patio reflects our general aesthetic as a welcoming space for an assortment of people from the queer community with no judgment or expectations. For Pride, we will be serving the usual tasty and cheap and strong drinks. There will also be outdoor DJs for the weekend, with 5, 7 and 9 p.m. 90-minute seatings. It feels good to be able to socialize with people we may have not seen for over a year.”
The Black Cat was the site of an early LGBTQ civil rights demonstration in Los Angeles, so having lunch there might be a wonderful way to celebrate Pride. “This year made it difficult for bars and restaurants to survive,” said the cafe’s manager, Benjamin Schwartz. “Many have closed. It is important to support your favorite places to make memories while you can. Keep community, friendship and Pride alive.”
The restaurant is “blessed” with a lot of outdoor space, he said, adding, “This has allowed us to give guests ample room to be comfortable throughout the pandemic. We are pleased to still be able to serve our guests in what is considered the safest manner: outside.”
Offerings from the food and beverage menus have been tailored to enjoy outside. “We added four new sandwiches and a frozen drink machine,” Schwartz said. “It has been a comforting and fun fit.”
Although Redline doesn’t have its outdoor area any longer, it’s still a place to go for a drink if you are in downtown L.A. “We are finally excited that we are able to open the bar up again and can put our ‘house’ back together to create a home,” said owner Oliver Alpuche over email.
“We have tried sooo many things to stay afloat, from trying a to-go model (shut down with the protests in L.A.); gearing up to open inside (June 2020: L.A. shut down again); first attempt of the rooftop pop-up (shut down in November after only two weeks of being open); and reopening the pop-up in February 2021 and closing it at the end of April!”
The bar, which opened in 2015, has a GoFundMe.
The tea from stylist Antonio Soto: “Redline is one of my favorite queer- and POC-owned establishments. As one of the only LGBTQ nightlife spots in DTLA, I feel it’s our duty to support it and ensure it survives the pandemic. I love getting a gin martini and a personal pizza or fries and watching their fabulous drag brunch.”
The downtown L.A. spot, which was opened by Brian McIntire and his late husband, Thor Stephens, in 2015, has a GoFundMe page.
Source, California News Times.