Best Chinatown Bars to Wet Your Whistle

Did you know the original LA Chinatown developed in the late 19th century, but was gradually demolished to make room for Union Station? During its heyday from 1890 to 1910, Old Chinatown boasted some two hundred buildings including a Chinese Opera theater, three temples, a newspaper, and a telephone exchange. In 1938, a separate commercial center, known as “New Chinatown,” opened for business, and evolved to become the Chinatown we’re familiar with today-an international destination for dining, shopping, art, and entertainment-and of course, bars!

LA Wine Chinatown

900 No. Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Located inside Chinatown’s Blossom Plaza, LA Wine takes you on a tasting tour of California’s coast with hand-picked wines from Santa Barbara to Mendocino. This cozy spot is the brainchild of David DeLuca, owner of DTLA’s Ham & Eggs, who was introduced to many of the Golden State’s farmers and vintages during his own stint working in Sonoma wine country. In addition to their house label and many craft beers, LA Wine features multiple wines from their favorite producers including Hitching Post, Stolpman, Bonny Doon, Navarro, and Peterson. They also present a rotating reserve list of seasonal California wines, regions and vintages. All of their offerings can be enjoyed at the bar, on the patio, or to-go.

Apotheke

1746 North Spring St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Backed up against the LA River and the underpass that leads into Lincoln Heights, Apotheke exudes an air of mystery where speakeasy meets Absinthe bar. Once you’ve found the unmarked entrance on Doyers Street, make your way to the back bar, which holds rows of tinted pharmacist’s vials with hand-lettered Latin labels. In keeping with the apothecary theme, the cocktail menu is described as a “prescription list,” and offers categories based on healing properties rather than alcohol selection. For those who take their cure seriously, the establishment offers Apotheke Academy, featuring interactive hands-on mixology and cocktail classes on-site. Upon completion, each guest may purchase Apotheke’s full service mixology kit to recreate cocktails at home. Courses are also available for off-site private events. For more information Reservations@ApothekeLA.com

Oriel Chinatown

1135 N. Alameda St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

For lovers of authentic French wine and food, Oriel is a chic, comfortable wine bar styled to please even the most homesick Parisian. Located just far enough away from Chinatown’s main drag, Oriel might be a little hard to spot hidden beneath the Chinatown Gold LIne Metro stop. But once inside, you’ll be charmed by the sleek black and rose interior, lush hanging plants, and soft pink neon lighting. Oriel offers a curated selection of French bottles and some 20 wines by the glass, along with a classic bistro menu featuring French onion soup, steak tartare, chicken liver mousse, steak frites. escargots, and gnocchi.

Highland Park Brewery Chinatown

1220 N Spring St

LA, CA 90012

From their original space in Highland Park as a production-only facility, Highland Park Brewery has expanded into Chinatown, housing their first tasting room and second Brewery. HPB, as the brewery is affectionately known, was founded with the goal of making excellent beer in LA, focuing on fresh hoppy beers, lagers, and mixed culture fermentation, accompanied by unique processes, wacky microbes, and local ingredients. HPB offers a robust, beer-friendly food menu including Queso and Chips, Fried Cheese Curds, and a Sausage Plate with Chorizo, Salsa Verde and Focaccia. The Chinatown tasting room is kid friendly and dogs are welcome on the patio. Guests are also asked to not bring in any food not prepared in their kitchen.

General Lee’s Cocktail House

475 Gin Ling Way

Los Angeles, CA 90012

General Lee’s Cocktail Bar has served LA Chinatown since 1890. Hidden in a dark corner in Chinatown Central Plaza, this historic space once entertained the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra, and Gary Cooper. Now a two-story “Modern Tiki” mashup, General Lee’s serves a creative menu of Asian-inflected cocktails with a twist, like wasabi-infused vermouth and black sesame syrup. The venue also features DJs and live entertainment, with upcoming performances by 80s faves Cocteau Twins, Soft Cell, Lords of the New Church, and Billy Idol. For reservations and table inquiries: jay@generallees.com