Forget bar peanuts: Some restaurants are putting their best food forward for the early crowd — and at special prices, too
By Shanee Edwards
In a dark and distant past, happy hour meant slurping cheap draft beers while stuffing chicken fingers into your mouth just to save a few bucks. For Westsiders, this is no longer the case. Many local restaurants and bars are putting their best food forward for the early crowd, offering specially priced epicurean achievements along with specialty beers, wines and cocktails. These happy hours with gourmet flair will put your taste buds on overdrive.
10. La Vecchia Cucina
A Santa Monica fixture for more than two decades, this café was reinvented in 2006 by the Mollica brothers, who incorporated family recipes brought all the way from Sicily. The bar really gets buzzing at happy hour, so get there early to grab a seat. Breathe in the sizzling garlic aroma as you enjoy $5 to $6 handcrafted pizzas and $5 house wine.
La Vecchia Cucina, 2654 Main St., Santa Monica. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. (310) 399-7979; lavecchiacucina.com
9. Sara the Wine Bar
This Italian eatery offers a warm and friendly atmosphere that feels like a real Italian neighborhood café. Sara, originally from Italy, will most likely serve you herself and is happy to make appetizer recommendations. The home-style meatballs in spicy tomato sauce and the lasagna Bolognese perfectly complement any red wine and are both available for just $7 each. The black tiger shrimp sauté in a garlic-spicy white wine sauce, only $8, goes great with any white wine.
Sara the Wine Bar, 11800 Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays. (424) 228-4750; sarathewinebar.com
8. T.H. Brewsters
If craft beer is your thing, you’ll definitely want to check out this happy hour. Tucked inside the Four Points by Sheraton near LAX, T.H. Brewsters boasts 110 beers from 26 different countries. For happy hour, take $2 off any beer, while house wine and well drinks are only $4. Menu items include beer-friendly gastropub edibles like bangers and mash, andouille sausage and jalapeno and cheddar brats for $7 to $11.
T.H. Brewsters is inside Four Points by Sheraton, 9750 Airport Blvd., Westchester. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (310) 645-4600; fourpointslax.com/brewsters-bar-near-lax
7. Oscar’s Cerveteca
If you’re craving L.A.-inspired food with a south-of-the-border flavor, Oscar’s Cerveteca happy hour provides a zesty Rose Avenue experience. Many of the recipes are from owner Oscar Hermosilo’s own mother, affectionately referred to by all as “mama.” Mrs. Hermosilo also cooks at the restaurant four days a week. Spicy bitter orange organic chicken wings and a handmade corn tortilla quesadilla with pablano chilies and guacamole are both available for $7. Beers start at $4, and wine at $7.
Oscar’s Cerveteca, 523 Rose Ave., Venice. Happy hour is from 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Fridays. (310) 310-8937; cervetecala.com
6. Bar Pintxo
Want to enjoy Spanish tapas while catching a cool ocean breeze? Joe Miller (executive chef and owner of Joe’s Restaurant in Venice) has created the quintessential So-Cal happy hour experience. Bar Pintxo offers $6 tapas along with $6 Basque-inspired small plates called pintxos. Tapas include: croquetas de bacalao, which is crispy béchamel on house-cured cod with a garbanzo aioli, and chorizo y patatas a la riojana, which is sausage with fried potatoes in a red wine sauce. Pintxos include Serrano jamon with manchego cheese and fresh tomato and a Montana ranch beef pate with pickled radishes. $4 sangria and wines are also available.
Bar Pintxo, 109 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. Happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. daily. (310) 458-2012; barpintxo.net
5. The Buffalo Club
This once über-stealthy spot operated for years without so much as a sign. The only indication something might be going on was the valet waiting out front and the stream of pretty people walking inside. The Buffalo Club has now come into its own, offering a fantastic happy hour. Tasty treats such as Moroccan lamb rolls with a mint-cucumber dip, grilled buffalo wings and parmesan Jidori chicken skewers with a sweet and spicy dip are available at happy hour for $8 each. Well drinks are $6; craft and draft beers are $5.
The Buffalo Club is at 1520 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. Happy hour is from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. (310) 450-8600; thebuffaloclub.com
If you’re looking for a happy hour-priced cocktail to go along with some great food, Glow may just light up your life. Boasting a large outdoor patio, Glow offers specialty drinks such as they ginger lemon drop, a salty Chihuahua, and cherrykran cola for only $5. Bud light is available for $3; house wine is $6 per glass. Guacamole with house-made tortilla chips is $6, and flatbreads with toppings like BBQ chicken and bacon or roasted mushrooms with goat cheese and arugula are $9 each.
Glow is inside The Marriott Marina del Rey, 4100 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays. (310) 301-3000; marriott.com
3. Bin No. 73
Just feet from the Venice pier, this cozy wine bar has an upscale vibe with a beach view. For foodies, Bin No. 73 offers an ahi tuna poke bite with avocado, a steamed cauliflower Polonaise, and a spicy honey crostini with candy-cane beets and candied walnuts topped with mint on a bed of balsamic reduction — all for $5 each. A daily selection of red or white wine is available for $6 per glass; select beers for $4.
Bin No. 73 is at 14 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (310) 827-6209; bin73.net
2. Waterloo & City
If you don’t typically think of British cuisine as delicious and inspired, Waterloo & City may change your mind. Named after a London tube stop, executive chef/proprietor Brendan Collins brings the traditional British gastropub to the west end of Culver City, giving it a modern, relaxed vibe. The happy hour menu includes $5 to $9 offerings, including pork shank grilled cheese sandwich with fried egg, Waterloo fish and chips with a house tartar sauce, salmon poke with a gooseberry salsa and sesame crackers, and sticky toffee pudding. The bar features $5 wines and “pubtails” like the Dark and Stormy, which is Gosling’s rum and ginger beer.
Waterloo & City is at 12517 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. daily. (310) 391-4222; waterlooandcity.com
1. Primitivo Wine Bistro
Primitivo has provided Farmers Market fresh ingredients to diners on Abbot Kinney for more than 11 years and is still the place for flavorful and inventive Mediterranean cuisine. Though the happy hour is literally only one hour Mondays through Saturdays (but 2½ hours on Sunday), you can savor its truffle lobster crab tower for a mere $11 and some intriguing choices of sliders that include Moroccan lamb, Dungeness crab, organic turkey, or BBQ short rib — all for just $3.50 each. Beer, red sangria and elderflower-infused sparkling sangria are each just $4 per glass, while red and white wine is $5.
Primitive Wine Bistro is at 1025 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Happy hour is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sundays. (310) 396-5353, primitivowinebistro.com