Indulge in craft cocktails, gourmet bites and stunning views during Santa Monica’s best hotel happy hours
By Jessica Koslow
Why should tourists have all the fun? Santa Monica hotels have mastered the art of fine dining in settings that’ll make you fall in love with Southern California all over again. By sea, sky or pool, here are four great places to sit back, relax and feel like a sightseer in your own backyard — all without breaking the bank.
FIG at Five at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel
FIG Restaurant, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | (310) 319-3111 | figsantamonica.com
FIG at Five is one of the more happening happy hours in Santa Monica. There might be a wait for a seat, but it’s worth it. And not just for the relaxing view of the pool and palm trees. From 5 to 6 p.m. seven days a week, most of the food and drinks on the menu are half-off — except the pizzas, bread balloon and last six items on the menu. Since the dishes are from the dinner menu, the selection is rather fancy: charred octopus served with butter beans, pickled onions and Fresno chilies ($8.50); albacore tuna crudo with fennel rub ($6.50); tomato and radish salad with mint, French feta and zinfandel vinaigrette ($8.50); and wood-smoked manila clams with fresh thyme and pepper relish ($8.50). Choose indoor or outdoor patio seating — most seats have a view of the rustling trees.
The Penthouse Restaurant at the Huntley Hotel
The Penthouse Restaurant, 1111 Second St., Santa Monica | (310) 393-8080 | thehuntleyhotel.com
Chef Alex Manos hopped on board here late last year and quickly started adding his own touches to the sunset hour menu, with more surprises yet to come. Sure, the short rib tacos with guacamole and spicy salsa and the Thai drummettes with sweet chili tamarind glaze and micro mint are delicious, but it’s the ride in the elevator to the top floor and the awaiting wraparound window view that up the elegance factor. From 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, gaze at the vast coastline while nibbling $8 apps and cocktails, like a Bees Knees (gin, lemon juice and honey syrup) or Mama’s Boy Margarita. House wines are $6, and beer is just $4.
Terrazza Lounge at Hotel Casa del Mar
Terrazza Lounge 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica (310)-581-5533 | hotelcasadelmar.com
Terrazza Lounge also kicked off 2017 with a newly expanded happy hour menu, courtesy of chef Gemma Gray. Chicken croquettes ($10), hummus and warm pita ($8), crispy calamari ($12), and tuna tartare ($12) are now available in addition to the always-popular margherita and funghi pizzas ($12).
The hours have been extended, so munchies and thirst quenchers ($8 beers, $10 sangria and $12 wine or craft cocktails) can now be ordered from 3 to 7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. What hasn’t changed, though, is the gorgeous, sweeping vista of the sea and sand. Terrazza also offers weekly happenings, which include Bubbles and Pearls — oysters and sparkling wine — from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, and Tapas at Casa from 6 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Coast at Shutters on the Beach
Coast 1 Pico Blvd. | Santa Monica (310) 587-1707 | shuttersonthebeach.com
With a long, skinny bar facing Ocean Front Walk and a live female deejay, happy hour at Coast is breezy, casual cool. From 4 to 7 p.m. Sundays to Fridays, pair a Tito’s Mule (vodka, lime and ginger beer) or Tesla Margarita — all cocktails are $9 — with fish tacos or meatball sliders with provolone (both $8), or shishito peppers with lime salt ($4). Oysters of the day are $12 for a half-dozen.
Coast also offers Pasta on the Patio from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, when chef Vittorio Lucariello cooks handmade pasta (tagliatelle, spaghetti, garganelli or ravioli) with your choice of toppings, such as shrimp, zucchini, hazelnut or Calabrian chiles.