Tucked away in Koreatown across from Ralph’s and next to a take-out window called Stall 239, Lock & Key isn’t just any hidden bar. To get in, you have to pick the right doorknob out of the countless doorknobs on the wall. Inside it’s dark woods, leather booths, flickering candles and classic cocktails made with care (239 S. Vermont St.; 213-389-5625).
Like at their other spots like La Descarga, where you enter through an armoire, and Pour Vous, which has a secret smoking bus permanently parked out back, to get into the Houston brothers’ new No Vacancy, you have to pick the right door. But once inside the Hollywood nightspot set in an old mansion set back from the bustling boulevard, you’ll find rooms filled with antiques, tiles, red-velour furniture and other bric-a-brac. It truly feels like no other place, and often not of this time. The spirits program is heavy on gin and whiskey, and the list of 12 drinks created by bartender superstars like Marcos Tello and Julian Cox swaps out throughout the year (1727 N. Hudson Ave.; 323-465-1902).
Sure, you can get a quick cut at the Blind Barber - it is, after all, a barber shop. But you can go for a cocktail too, once you find the bar hidden in back. And you don’t need to get a haircut before entering (10797 W. Washington Blvd.; 310-841-6679).
Some other great hidden spots include The Varnish inside Cole’s, Caña Rum Bar in a Downtown LA garage, and the Basement Tavern under The Victorian in Santa Monica.