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BEACH GOURMET: New Years Eve: Places To Party Hearty:

New Years Eve is, as we all know, the traditional time to gather with friends (or strangers), reminisce nostalgically about the year gone by, and look forward with hope at the year to come. For many, this day means the last of the year’s culinary and alcoholic indulgences before the resolutions of caloric denial and tippling temperance kick in, with determination and enthusiasm. This week, the Mirror offers some suggestions of places to visit on December 31 that purvey great food and drink, and further provide a good time with which to ring in 2009; so throw culinary caution to the wind for one last gastronomic 2008 blowout.

The Viceroy Santa Monica (310.434.2855) is putting on a grand show starting at 8:00 p.m. and for $175.00 per person ($195.00 at the door) you can get your coat checked, dance to grooves spun by top DJ’s Jason Bentley, King Brett, J-Boogie, and Garth Trinidad, sample some heavenly hors d’oeuvres, enjoy a midnight toast and celebration, and drink all you want throughout the night, as this deal includes unlimited booze! (Aspirin the following morning is not included, by the way.)

For a slightly more sedate and cozy experience, and considerably less cash, the delightful Tlapazola Grill on Lincoln Boulevard (866.377.7930) is offering a prix fixe menu with choices that include sesame seed jumbo shrimp with tomato chipolte sauce, and chicken sea bass with yellow mole and lime caper sauce. All dishes include an appetizer (a surprise!), a glass of champagne and dessert (chocolate soufflé or dulce de leche cheesecake) and will set you back only $49.95 per person. ­

At Ye Olde Kings Head at 2nd and Santa Monica, revelers can get two New Years convivialities for the price of one: the British New Year, which is rung in at 4:00 p.m. (Britain is eight hours ahead), as well as the local midnight standard.  Scottish bagpipes, a DJ, great British food (including the famous fish ‘n chips), pints of real beer and New Year’s champagne toasts are on offer for everyone, but a word of advice, come very early if you want to indulge in the 4:00 p.m. bash, as this party is hugely popular with British expatriates, and is packed with people possessing strange accents by 2:30 p.m.

Down on Wilshire Boulevard, V Lounge (310.829.1933) is putting on a suave shindig, as is The Wilshire (310.586.1707), with a New Year’s Eve menu, and at both locations the rule is “dress to impress.” Also on Wilshire, O’Brien’s Irish Pub (310.396.6678.) is hosting the Paul Chesne Band and a DJ; their regular pub menu will be available, along with pints of beer, etc. Admission is ten bucks in advance, or $15 on the night.  

Lares on Pico (310.829.4559) is popular for anyone seeking a great Mexican family dining experience in a charming atmosphere.  They also feature a couple of flamenco guitarists who appear to have been playing there since the first-ever New Year’s bash thousands of years ago. Great food and drink, and a lovely ambience are guaranteed.  

Lula’s Cocina Mexicana (310.392.5711) on Main Street offers Chef Ricardo’s cool culinary creations and a vibrant bar that is famous for Tequila. One Hundred and Seventy-Five choices of Tequila to be precise. So, if you choose, you can try a shot of each one on New Year’s Eve and then call an ambulance (kidding, of course…although there are doubtless a few local residents who are game to have a go).

So, listed here is just a handful of hearty eating and watering holes that offer great choices for the end of year celebration. But remember never to drink and drive, and always avail yourselves of a designated driver, otherwise you might find yourself having a ball (and chain) in a jail cell, courtesy of Santa Monica Police Department.   Not the ideal way to ring in the new year.

Happy 2009 Everybody! 

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