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5 Best and 2 Worst Happy Hours in Santa Monica

Posted by admin on April 11, 2011
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In a city known for it’s fifteen-dollar Martinis, it’s good that many restaurants are now on board with modestly-priced drink specials so we can catch up with friends while enjoying some tasty food and refreshing cocktails at a reasonable price. Of course, not all local establishments offer these, but here are my five favorite spots for Happy Hour — and a couple to avoid:

1) Fig @ the Fairmont Hotel.
Everything, that’s right, everything (food & drinks) on the menu is ½ price. So go ahead and order a few different plates you have been wanting to try from creative chef, Ray Garcia. All the dishes I have tried so far have been delicious and the menu is seasonal so it is constantly changing.  The only catch is that the Happy Hour prices only apply Tues  – Thurs from 5-6pm.

2) Sonoma Wine Garden at The Santa Monica Place
Best located restaurant on the dining deck as it includes ocean views. Happy Hour is  Monday – Thursday offering $6 cocktails &  glasses of wine as well as  a good selection of  food. On Tuesday stay for the live music at 7:30pm and don’t forget valet is free for the first 3 hours with validation.

3) Chaya
Technically it’s located in Venice but it is right on the border. If you can’t cut out of work early, not to worry, because Chaya Venice now has happy hour all night every night starting at 5pm in the bar area. Get your sushi fix and be sure to try the speciality Slingchi Martini while enjoying the lively scene. Note that it does get busy so if you don’t want to have to wait for a table getting there early is recommended.

4) The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
The “Sunset” Hour as it’s called here, is just that  – the perfect place to catch an amazing  view of the sunset from the top floor of the hotel while sipping a cocktail & nibbling on appetizers. If you are entertaining people from out of town, this is sure to impress them. Monday -Friday 4-7pm

5) Hotel Shangri-la
With summer just around the corner, the pool bar at the Shangri-la is a great way to wind down the day. Happy Hour is Mon – Fri 5-7pm w/ $5 cocktails & snacks.  Ditch Day Fridays has Happy Hour all day long! If you don’t have a 9-5pm job and work most weekends, then once in a while it is OK to take a day off and pretend you are on vacation, or you can even call it  prospecting.

Now that you know where to go, it’s important to point out the places to avoid: R & D and Father’s Office on Montana Avenue

R&D Kitchen has no happy hour during the week but they do at least have five-dollar Mimosas and Bloody Marys over the weekend. Plus here is an insider tip: you can bring your own wine for no corkage fee. So although it won’t make my “best” list, I still go there quite frequently (after all, it is across the street from my office).

I would definitely vote Father’s Office as the worst Happy Hour as they simply don’t have one. Additionally, the tables are on a first-come-first-served basis, so unless people are willing to let you squeeze in to their table or you are willing to stand at the bar, then meeting up with a group of friends can be challenging. Furthermore, be sure not to ask for your burger to be prepared any other way than the way the chef intended and don’t ask for ketchup with your fries – the bartender will give you the evil eye. If only the burgers there weren’t so good…

So although I may seem like an expert, there are plenty of Happy Hours I still have l not checked out.  There is a very nice list out there if you want information on other places to go.

I’m curious to know what Happy Hours are your favorite?  Where have you been lately that didn’t impress you? Do you agree with any of my choices? Would love to hear your feedback.

Photo courtesy of diongillard’s Flickr

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