When I think happy hour, I really don’t think “Montana Avenue” in Santa Monica. This quiet little strip north of Wilshire is great for date-night restaurants or to enjoy a very tasty blue cheeseburger at Father’s Office but for drink specials? Not so much.
That’s why I was really surprised to find out about happy hour at Yu Restaurant & Lounge, a trendy spot backed by the scenester owners of Hollywood nightclubs Prey and Shelter.
Happy hour is from 5-7pm with food specials like $6 calamari and $5 pan fried chicken potstickers. Drink specials include $5 hot sake, a ginger lemon drop martini for $6 and $5 well drinks. But since happy hour is only in the tiny bar area, if you aren’t able to snag a seat, you’re left awkwardly standing behind seated patrons at the bar or by seated patrons’ tables as well as standing in the way of the passing wait staff. And that just sucks.
Inside, the bar with multiple Buddha heads lighted by candles and lacy Moroccan lanterns couldn’t fit even one more size-2 hipster.
We would have ordered appetizers but since we were just standing in the middle of the room, we settled on sharing one bar stool and holding our uber-gingery lemon drop martinis. The bartenders weren’t exactly helpful either. When a table opened up, instead of giving it to us, they gave it to the couple who showed up behind us. They probably thought we were OK with the one bar stool.
As for “happy hour,” one Yu regular we spoke with said it was more like “drunk study hall hour” as the bar crowd is really sedate, talking quietly amongst themselves. A screenwriter, he usually comes here to write.
The TV screen over the bar showing a lively basketball game was on mute. The music was played very low. Votive candles casted a low warm glow…my head slowly dropped down on my desk and I woke up when the teacher tapped me with her ruler.
So would I come back here? Uh, that would be a nope. It was a beautiful scene, but the small space and lack of standing room/chairs in the bar area make it an unhappy hour. People kept walking through the door to check out the restaurant, but left when they saw there was nowhere to sit let alone stand.
1323 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, California 90402
Cross Street: Euclid Street
Happy Hour Mon-Fri 5-7pm
Dinner every night 6:30pm-10:30pm