July is quickly becoming one of my favorite months of the year. The kiddies head off to summer school with their cousins in the Valley (spending a couple of nights there each week for logistical purposes) and Irene and I get to rendezvous after work for some Happy Hour outings.
Where to kick off our summer tour would prove to be a no-brainer: a brand new Yard House had opened in our ’hood (just five minutes away in Marina Del Rey) just a few weeks prior and a half-yard glass of amber ale had my name on it. Happy Hour drafts and a selection of apps are half price – I had an excellent spicy tuna tartar/avocado/edamame in the round and Irene had a pizza margherita that sported large juicy cherry tomatoes.
Sandwiched between the next outing, we chose to do a relaxing wine and cheese Happy Hour in our very own backyard so I broke out a duo of brie and Dubliner cheddar and some duck truffle pate, Genoa salami and flatbread and imagined I was kicking back in Provence.
Next up was Chef David Lentz’s The Hungry Cat on PCH where we were very happy to discover that Monday is half-price oyster night. Nothing better than sharing three kinds of oysters over a Duvel and
cucumber margarita for Irene.
Turning our attention to Venice, we took the short drive to Willie Jane, which features a Southern inspired menu designed by Chef Govind Armstrong. There are Happy Hour Tecates and other drink specials and Irene had an heirloom tomato salad and biscuit with orange butter. Then it was a short walk over to Abbott Kinney staple Joe’s, where we shared half-price mussels and clams in a terrific broth.
Feeling it was time to once again shake things up, we decided to go to the recently opened AMC Dine-in Theater in Marina Del Rey. As we settled in to our oversized leather chairs to see World War Z in 3D, we ordered a couple of beers (Sam Adams seasonal draft pint for me and a Modelo for Irene) and shared a pretty tasty seafood sampler of popcorn shrimp, lobster-bacon pizza and crab cake.
Back on the proper tour, we drove straight down our block to Venice Beach Wines, or VBW. Owned by the same dude who runs Oscar’s Cerveteca right next door, VBW is more of a cozy wine bar with a tiny side kitchen that you can see into from the patio, where we sat and enjoyed small bite grilled cheese sandwiches and whitefish salad with crostini and cornichons.
Literally up the hill from us on Pico, Next Door (ND) by Josie’s is is the casual sidekick to Josie’s, a long-time neighborhood fine dining restaurant right next door. I had a Hyperion’s Stout, El Segundo (8%, $4) with a “Small Snack” of tempura escargot while Irene got the roasted beet salad with kale, chick peas and macadamia nuts.
Another night on Third Street Promenade, we sat at an outdoor table at Monsieur Marcel and snacked on a jamon & gruyere crostini plate, pate and buy-one-get-one-free glasses of vino. Then it was a couple of blocks over to Mercado where we sat at the bar and sipped on a great house margarita (me) and a maroon-colored soft drink called Jamaica (Irene) and the best chicken empanadas we have ever tasted.
On the final week of our tour, we decided on the classic El Coyote for my favorite Enchilada Howard (a single cheese enchilada in ranchero sauce with chunks of beef, melted cheese and scallions) and still-packing-a-punch-after-all-these-years house margaritas (mango marg for Irene). On the way home after dinner, we stopped in for a nightcap at BierBeisl in Beverly Hills, “the first and only Authentic Austrian restaurant in Los Angeles,” says the web site. Loved the very cool euro vibe here; from our stools at the small bar we had a nice little side view into the open kitchen. The food being carried out looked so good that we’re sure to return to sample something from the Sausage Menu (there’s also a Schnapps Bar!)
We closed out our Happy Hour 2013 tour much like we started it – sticking to the immediate area by driving five minutes east on Venice Boulevard to Bigfoot Lodge West. After a couple of $5 cocktail specials (Gin Gimlet and a Sazerac – a cocktail made with rye and absinthe), we headed a bit further east to Rush Street in adjacent Culver City. There we snuck in under their 7 p.m. Happy Hour deadline and enjoyed a white wine (Irene) and Tanqueray martini with cocktail onions (me) and split a pizza margherita that rivaled the opening pizza app at the Yard House at the top of the tour.