Enjoy “recess,” a Ruby Slipper and cloud surfing in Culver City
By Angela Matano
Culver City makes it easy to leave your car at home, walk around, drink up and explore. Downtown, especially, is just the right size for walking and bar crawling. Whether you’re wearing stilettos, hiking boots or even ruby slippers, spring evenings are a fantastic time to indulge in festive cocktails and tasty treats in the land that built Oz. For those who already live in the area, lucky you. As one lost little girl once said: “There’s no place like home.”
Romance and history collide at the Culver Hotel, entering its 95th year of business — a stunning achievement in attention-deficit Greater Los Angeles. Revel in the bar’s happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays through Fridays: with $2 off the regular beer menu, and $3 off the wine and cocktail list, you can come for a drink and stay for two or three. Snacks include polenta fries, Parmesan fries with aioli, and spicy tuna poke. Seek out The Ruby Slipper 2.0, a concoction of house-infused hibiscus vodka, fresh raspberries, agave nectar, lime juice and sparkling wine. What’s good enough for the Munchkins is good enough for just about anyone — the cast of little people from “The Wizard of Oz” famously stayed at the hotel just blocks from the studio where the film was made.
9400 Culver Blvd. (310) 558-9400; culverhotel.com
Happy Hour is known as “recess” at Public School, all the more reason to live the life of a raucous student or overworked teacher letting off some steam. From 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, indulge in discounted eats such as the vegetarian buffalo cauliflower — saucy and decidedly delicious with the welcome addition of bleu cheese dressing ($6). Another decadent choice is the bacon-cheddar tater tots with Sriracha sauce (make sure to share them if you plan on buttoning your pants back up at the end of the evening). A gastropub by design, the bar serves up a terrific variety of beers for just five and six bucks (a couple of dollars cheaper than the regular menu). Unusual offerings, like Mama’s Lil Yellow Pils (a cheekily-named pilsner from Oskar Blues Brewery), go down easy.
9411 Culver Blvd. (310) 558-0414; psontap.com
Everything you have heard about the burger at Father’s Office is true. A hearty combination of beef topped with gruyere, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula and cave-aged Maytag blue cheese, this sandwich is not cheap — 15 large ones — but boy is it unforgettable. In fact nothing in the joint is especially inexpensive, so don’t come looking for deals (although the portions are large enough to share if you’re being generous). I solemnly promise that you will not regret the loss of a single farthing. Chef Sang Yoon puts a great deal of thought into each and every culinary decision, and the attention to detail really shines through — and absolutely do not even think about substituting anything! Come with an open heart and open wallet, and you will leave content with your lot in life. Oh, and the beer selection (a rotating assortment of 36 drafts) is just as inspired.
3229 Helms Ave. (310) 736-2224; fathersoffice.com
With views like these, why eat inside, like, ever? Perched atop the roof of the Platform retail complex, Margot’s seating is as close as you will get to drinking while cloud surfing. While it’s not the cheapest chow on this list, sometimes you gotta pay for a little glamour in your life. (Although an aperitivo hour taken from the Italian happy hour playbook offers some alluring deals from 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily, expect $4 oysters and $9 cocktails.) If you’re looking to imbibe and indulge, come for brunch and slurp on a $14 Negroni Painkiller — a frozen slushie with gin, campari, vermouth, coconut, pineapple and orange — while nibbling on a crudo of delicate sea bream ($16). As you can imagine, nights are spectacular from this vantage point. Order up the grilled amberjack collar with roasted pepper escalivada, avocado mousse and kumquats, and chase it with a Sting & Tonic — a mix of gin, stinging nettle, sage, cucumber and orris root. Revel in the light and spiky flavors.
8820 Washington Blvd. (310) 643-5853; margot.la