About as cozy as the Valley can be.
The term “dive bar” can be a bit of a catchall in Los Angeles, many of the so-called best dives in the city really more like lounges that happen to offer affordable drinks by LA standards. Fox Fire Room in Valley Village is a perfect example, a location referred to as a dive bar pretty liberally in reviews of the space that is more a comfortable place to grab a drink than it is a pleasantly decaying bar filled with rusty signs and a drop ceiling.
No discussion of the Fox Fire Room can stray too far from the bar’s signature cinematic appearance as the backdrop to William H. Macy drunkenly proclaiming his love for a bartender in braces in the appropriately-named movie Magnolia. Yes, the movie takes its name from the Los Angeles street that borders Fox Fire Room and runs through the Valley. Many of the surfaces look a little polished up for the screen, but the structure will no doubt be familiar for anyone visiting today.
Like many Valley dive bars, Fox Fire Room plays a bit more like a cushioned lounge thanks to the prevalence of dark brown wood, padded booth seating and even the saloon doors that swing in to the space from the parking lot in back. The shot of the bar most often seen online is from a door rarely used thanks to its street-adjacent location, most of the traffic into and out of the bar coming from the rear parking lot and designated smoking area.
The bar counter itself plays up the tavern-like atmosphere, the surface along the bottom of the bar’s stools padded similarly to the booths running opposite. The bar cushion is similarly red and plush along the counter’s rail, each stool a rotating, equally red and equally cushioned variety. The area directly behind the bar swaps out the general wood paneling seen elsewhere along Fox Fire Room’s walls for a deeper, more upscale-looking variety, a pair of soft lamps added to again hit that ‘lounge’ note. A pair of mirrors, some string lights, a few illuminated liquor bottles and some intricate cabinetry rounds out what is altogether a pretty classy-looking bar for a spot labeled as a Los Angeles dive bar.
Fox Fire Room’s lack of windows fits well with its early opening hours of 7 AM on weekends and 8 AM on weekdays, ensuring that no sunlight spoils a good time. Red carpet connects everything to add to the lounge-like color palette, even the red glowing electronic dart boards additive to the vibe. The booths along one wall trace a ridged pattern that results in one long cushioned surface but with natural breaks that divide the seating areas.
Decorations here are minimal, a few neon beer signs bordering the bar’s ceiling found only sporadically within Fox Fire Room. A handful of bar mirrors trace a similar pattern without any real visual density. Maybe the most prominent bit of visual stimulation comes from the pair of screens showing the security feeds sourced from cameras positioned around the Fox Fire Room exterior, offering a chance to keep a consistent eye on a car or particularly interesting smoke break.
On Sunday nights, karaoke takes over the Fox Fire Room, a small perch in the front of the space reserved for that night’s karaoke maestro. On this reviewer’s last visit, said maestro took a turn or two at singing a song or two of their own before handing things off to a string of singers assembled well before the start time to get a prime spot in line.