At the 39-year-old West L.A. bar Lost & Found, no matter how good your intentions, a quick stop can easily turn into an all-nighter. But that’s true of any great dive bar. Blame it on the cheap drinks, the foul-mouthed but entertaining bartender with a decent pour, or your friends who are really trying to make something happen with those two girls who unwittingly took the bar stools next to them. Sure, the bar closes at 2 a.m. but the hard-core can take a nap in the parking lot and wait ‘til it opens its doors again at 6 a.m.
Tucked into the easily overlooked strip mall across from Starbucks and Whole Foods Market on National and Barrington, and marked with a sign that promises cocktails and dancing, the bar is home to a mix of fresh-faced UCLA students and weathered bar flies. Come here often enough and you might just earn a spot on the birthday board displayed behind the bar; it’s a calendar featuring the upcoming birthdays of their faithful regulars. (Happy birthday shout-outs to Tuna and Lobo, whoever they are.)
Lost & Found will fulfill all your bar needs: food (free stale popcorn or $1 bags of salted peanuts), entertainment (sports/movie trivia cocktail napkins), and even an ATM should you make the mistake of trying to pay with a credit card at this cash-only establishment. Bonus: it’s fairly clean for a dive bar, which makes it perfect for the grunge-averse who usually shy away from such venues. No sticky tabletops or floors here, thankfully. And the patrons are friendly, easily chatting you up about fantasy football or handing you a dollar to pick some songs from the jukebox. Of course they’re drunk, but they’re harmless.
As for the drinks, if you’re at all particular, of the “Stirred Not Shaken Manhattan” school of thought, it’s best to stick to neat spirits or straight mixed cocktails of one spirit and one mixer. You can’t go wrong with a gin and tonic or a rum and Coke. The ice is wet, but if you’re lucky, the pours can be heavy. Ordering cocktails with more than one spirit ups the price by $1 and, frankly, it’s not worth it. The White Russian ($6) I ordered appeared to be 99 percent cream with a sliver of Kahlua and vodka.
Beer geeks might struggle a bit to find something they like with the selection of macros like Coors, Corona, and (gasp!) Rolling Rock tall boys. (Though they do have Anchor Steam.) Oenophiles can try their luck with the Vintner Select vino. Top shelf? Not at all. But then again, this is a dive bar. You’re here to drink, not to tipple.
Drink prices: Domestic beer $3.50, imported beer $4.50, cocktails $5-$7
Entertainment: Darts, pool table, jukebox, sports and movie trivia napkins
Best booze: Beefeater gin, Wild Turkey 81, Anchor Steam beer
Best seat in the house: The stool on the left side of the bar, near the jukebox with your back to the wall. Within earshot of the bartender, great view of the room, and since it’s at the curve of the bar, it’s easy to chat with your buddy or someone new.
Overheard at the bar: “Preparation H is great for reducing the bags under your eyes.”
Payment: Cash only, but there is an ATM in the bar.
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Lost & Found, 11700 National Blvd., West Los Angeles