Any place can offer happy hours or $1 drafts, but that doesn’t mean it’s a top college bar. To be a top college bar, one needs the atmosphere, the drink specials and a great location. We’ve compiled a list of the top college bars in LA … so whether you’re a Bruin, Trojan or just like to pretend you’re still in college, make sure to put these places on your list to check out the big game or stumble into after too many beer bongs at an unidentifiable location.
211 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
With five locations sprinkled around Southern California, Sharkeez has not only been serving beer, but sizzling up the palates’ of college students with its Baja Mexican food for close to 15 years. Originally opened by a recent college grad with the help of his restaurant impresario father, this place knows what college kids want and can afford. Everyday from 3 to 7, the place fills up with students seeking its 2-for-1 happy hour. Did you catch that – everyday! ‘The Big Game’ always lights up the many flat screens, while later on the evening brings themed nights, such as karaoke. Also be sure to check out the free champagne with brunch on the weekends, and go ahead and offer your toast to one of the few bars that can authentically pull off the beach bar feel.
226 Standard Street
El Segundo, CA 90245
Harry O’s does it all. While it starts off as a low-key sports bar, serving a full restaurant menu, you can count on this place to bring in a rowdy crowd at night. Although it’s fairly new, it’s been able to bring in impressive musical acts to light up its stage. When there isn’t a band in-house, you can count on trendy music and a dancefloor that elicits the firing back and forth of looks between those not in college. However, Friday and Saturday brings a mostly student crowd, with themes such as ‘Surfer on Acid.’ Just having relocated to El Segundo, the new place is fresh, clean and ready to serve cheap Bud Lights.
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Not many universities can boast a beer-serving food court. But USC is one of the few – thanks to Traditions. The beer may be overpriced, but hey, you can swipe your student ID card and thank Mom and Dad (don’t worry – the beverages aren’t itemized on anything sent home). Traddie’s is especially useful after a hard test, with its signature drink ‘The Mind Eraser’ on call to help you forget about physics and equations. And the best part? You can bring your own food, hit up beer pong and you only have a few blocks to stumble home.
McKay’s at the Radisson
3540 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA
Named after USC’s famed football coach of the 1960’s and 70’s, McKay’s plays tribute to the Trojans athletic history, and is only a hop and a skip away from campus. There aren’t many spots you can walk to to watch the Lakers game, which automatically makes McKay’s a top college bar. Although it may be a little pricier than what most students prefer to throw down for a beer, McKay’s is also more upscale than your average college dive. It combines the aspects of a top college bar with those of a hotel bar, to offer finer bar food and a sleeker atmosphere. Put this one down in the books for gameday, as it attracts one of the best all-USC audiences you can find.
3500 S Figueroa Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90007
The Lab serves two great purposes – a place to start your night with dinner and drinks, and a place to end it, since it’s a no-DD-necessary, walkable distance from campus. Its main drawback is it only offers beer and wine, but the drinks are served in beakers, which makes up for it a little. With firepits, chalkboards, and chemistry books and equipment, this place truly resembles a chemistry lab. But unless you tasted the potions in class, this place will provide a whole lot more fun. Those who dine at The Lab can choose between the full plates of organic food or bar-like appetizers, but either will dazzle your tastebuds if you’re used to dorm food and pizza.
1000 Gayley Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Previously called Maloney’s, O’Hara’s is one of those bars with multiple personalities. By day, it’s a sports bar full of guys watching the game and UCLA spill-ins who stumbled in the nearest bar upon needing a drink after class. By night, it’s a trendy fake ID crowd and has a line wrapping around the corner. If you want to go to a bar in LA where everyone knows your name, and you go to UCLA, then this is the top college bar for you. But if you’re looking for something beyond cheap booze and a frat-boy atmosphere, O’Hara’s likely won’t be your provider.
901 Bar and Grill
2902 S. Figueroa Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Known as the 9-0 among USC students, you can guarantee to find a flood of frat guys and their drunk girlfriends spilling out the corners on gameday. You can watch the Trojans on one of nine 50 inch plasma screens, or just stick to the bar where you can find $1 shots and the expected college debauchery. You have to give this place some credit for its sense of humor, as it plays the worst music possible at 2 a.m. to kick out the crowd. However, in a lot of other ways it’s just a typical bar. So what pushes it over the edge to be on our top college bars list? Walking distance from USC’s campus and cheap beer. Aaahhh, glory days….