The old saw “if you get lemons, make lemonade,” certainly applies to Santa Monica’s answer to the downturn in the economy, as more and more restaurants and hotels have either introduced or expanded the ever-popular “Happy Hour.”
Originally created as an outlet for the working force to unwind after a day in the office, “Happy Hour” now begins as early as 4:00 p.m. and usually runs until around 7:00 pm, with some watering holes.
The bill of fare offered in the following venues consists of amazing gourmet food – a far cry from traditional “bar food,” which the Mirror had the pleasure of sampling and here’s the first delicious report.
The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel offers their “Sunset Hour” from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The appetizers, all priced at $7.00, consist of an array of choices including sliders, chicken or steak brochettes with sweet chili and spicy mustard sauces, short-rib tacos, shrimp tempura, warm goat’s cheese poppers that literally melt in your mouth and yes, the traditional pommes frites with cheddar cheese, hollandaise sauce, bacon and chives. A fine selection of wines is offered at $8.00 as well as $5.00 beers. With the Pacific Ocean and mountains serving as a magnificent frame, the Penthouse is a must on your list of “Happy Hour” destinations.
The Viceroy Hotel presents its “Happy Hour” in the beautifully designed lobby bar or, if weather permits, around its lovely pool area. Both ambiances are relaxing and conducive to private conversations. The menu (only one to a table) created by executive chef Tony Di Salvo includes a savory, butternut-squash soup ($11), sliders (angus, beef/white cheddar/tomato, jam/pickle/brioche (3 for $12), spicy tuna tartare ($9), truffled grilled cheese – brioche/pecorino tartufo/asparagus ($8), and my personal favorite, lavosh flatbread with burrata/tomato sauce ($9).
For any New Yorkers out there, the sauce is authentic and that’s probably because the chef is Italian and hails from New York. All well drinks and cocktails are $9 and the wine selection is excellent offering a fine 2008 Luckien Albrect Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France and a 2007 Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay. With its Thursday night extended Happy Hour, you can sit back and enjoy hours of socializing with old friends or perhaps meet some new ones.
The Dakota Lounge, formerly The Temple Bar, has been transformed into a very welcoming musical environment with an Asian touch created by Sabrina Roark and Alex Fieglein. Festive colorful lanterns fill the bar area making it a cozy place to have a very satisfying “Happy Hour.” It begins later than the usual start time because the venue attracts a much younger clientele who start partying a bit later than the over 40 set.
The menu offers such delectables as Hawaiian style or shrimp sliders (3 for $7), a spinach & artichoke dip ($7), sweet potato french fries ($5), mini meatball or chicken parm sandwiches ($4), and homemade chips with ranch dressing ($3). The well drinks and beer, Blue Makua, and house red or white wines and are all $5.00, with the house wines being exceptional. There is a dance floor and live or DJ music every night, including Salsa lessons and dancing on Thursday.
In addition to fine food and wine at affordable prices, these venues offer a cheerful, lively ambiance designed to put the workday far behind you.
Huntley Santa Monica Beach
1111 Second Street
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
1819 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Happy Hour: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 p.m. to closing
1026 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.