Photograph courtesy Flickr/tamaki
The Buggy Whip
Diners come to this old-school steak house for the f let mignon and the green goddess dressing, but for music aficionados the draw is Peter Wagner at the piano. Follow the strains of “Holly Holy” or “Luck Be a Lady” to find Wagner’s spot near the curved bar, where he performs Wednesday through Saturday nights. » 7420 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester, 310-645-7131.
Champagne Bar At The Hotel Bel-Air
If the opening of Masterpiece Theatre had been set in a piano bar, this would be Alistair Cooke’s roost. Ease back with a cognac in a leather chair by the fire, gaze out on what looks like the English countryside, and let the stylings of Antonio Castillo de la Gala wash over you Tuesdays through Saturdays. » 701 Stone Canyon Rd., Bel-Air, 310-472-1211.
The upstairs bar here has long been our favorite drinking hole in Hollywood—not for its handsome stained-glass windows but because of the piano perched above the dining room below. No matter our mood, we are always uplifted when an otherwise demure waitress sidles alongside the pianist to belt out a heart-wrenching “Beso Mio.” » 1646 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, 323-466-3438.
The Other Side
The mirrored walls, potted fronds, and keyboard built into a faux piano box all scream Palm Springs, 1982. But this gay bar is far from kitschy. Thanks toa roster of talented pros at the ivories and game amateurs at the mic , the place gets packed. Come by on quiet Mondays to hear Sondheim sung in key or to watch us butcher “Tits and Ass” one more time. » 2538 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, 323-661-4233.
The piano isn’t a grand, and the bar’s walls are an icky shade of green, but the back room is as friendly and inspired as any Italian joint made infamous by Robert Blake. Septuagenarians break into show tunes and operatic arias Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, while young folks tackle standards Thursdays and Fridays. The pizzetti and the chicken piccata are superb. » 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, 818-769-0905.