Do you ever feel like you can never get out of work in time to make it to happy hour? All the time, ya say? Me, too! Fortunately, the need for a cheap drink _apres work_ got me off my duff and I was able to hunt down some pretty good late happy hours (West L.A. centered), and here’s what I found. Most extend to 8pm but that extra hour helps when you really want to get your drink on.
Cabo Cantina has a 2-for-1 drink special on weekdays from 4pm to 8pm. And that means you can get a really strong Cadillac margarita in two HUGE salt-rimmed glasses. Their beer under this special is one of those big 40-ouncers or whatever the extra-large size for beer is. But, apart from designating a driver, be sure to strike early if you can, otherwise you’ll just be standing around with everyone else. That’s cool too unless you want to actually sit down and enjoy Cabo’s happy hour food. The place gets so packed with young professionals and college kids and what with all the “Spring Break”-type decorations, you’d swear you were in…well, Cabo.
11829 Wilshire Blvd (there’s also a WeHo location on Sunset Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Cross Street: Westgate Avenue
The Venice Whaler Bar & Grill also has a happy hour that goes from 4-8pm and features appetizers, margaritas, beer and well drinks. It’s a beachy older crowd — ’30s and up. The only thing I don’t like is having to find parking. You can usually find street parking on off nights. Other than that, good luck, what with all the restaurants and bars and now Coldstone Creamery in the area.
2-10 Washington Blvd
Venice, CA 90292
Cross Street: Venice Boardwalk
El Torito has got to be my favorite happy hour. It’s on the way home from my work, there’s validated parking and it has drink AND food specials, really good food like carne asada burritos, steak tacos…mmm, just hungry thinking about it. And the drinks are pretty good but sometimes ordering an extra shot of tequila will help with the typical too-much-mix-and-not-enough-liquor happy hour problem. This one runs from 4 to 8pm as well. The crowd seems pretty mixed up with couples, people celebrating birthdays and professionals. There are all these TV screens and you can usually find a seat with a good vantage point to watch whatever game.
3360 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
South of 10 Fwy on Centinela Ave.
Schatzi on Main’s happy hour only goes til 7:30 but sometimes that extra 30 minutes is just enough. The drinks are pretty stiff and the appetizers are restaurant quality. And the happy hour prices ($3, everything) are preferable to their other-time prices. Yes, $3 for calamari and $3 for a cosmo. It’s fun going here on summer nights with friends as the bar area is a patio with many cushy couches and TVs. And did I mention the $3 happy hour prices? The only downside is parking. There’s valet, of course, but as I don’t like to pay for parking, I usually park on Marine or on the nearby streets (carefully checking signs for permit-only areas).
3110 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405-5352
Cross Street: Marine Street
So to sum up, Cabo Cantina when you want to get plastered and El Torito or Schatzi when you want good, cheap food.