5 Best and 2 Worst Happy Hours in Santa Monica

In a city known for it’s fifteen-dollar Martinis, it’s good that many restaurants are now on board with modestly-priced drink specials so we can catch up with friends while enjoying some tasty food and refreshing cocktails at a reasonable price. Of course, not all local establishments offer these, but here are my five favorite spots for Happy Hour — and a couple to avoid:

1) Fig @ the Fairmont Hotel.
Everything, that’s right, everything (food & drinks) on the menu is ½ price. So go ahead and order a few different plates you have been wanting to try from creative chef, Ray Garcia. All the dishes I have tried so far have been delicious and the menu is seasonal so it is constantly changing.  The only catch is that the Happy Hour prices only apply Tues  – Thurs from 5-6pm.

2) Sonoma Wine Garden at The Santa Monica Place
Best located restaurant on the dining deck as it includes ocean views. Happy Hour is  Monday – Thursday offering $6 cocktails &  glasses of wine as well as  a good selection of  food. On Tuesday stay for the live music at 7:30pm and don’t forget valet is free for the first 3 hours with validation.

3) Chaya
Technically it’s located in Venice but it is right on the border. If you can’t cut out of work early, not to worry, because Chaya Venice now has happy hour all night every night starting at 5pm in the bar area. Get your sushi fix and be sure to try the speciality Slingchi Martini while enjoying the lively scene. Note that it does get busy so if you don’t want to have to wait for a table getting there early is recommended.

4) The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel
The “Sunset” Hour as it’s called here, is just that  – the perfect place to catch an amazing  view of the sunset from the top floor of the hotel while sipping a cocktail & nibbling on appetizers. If you are entertaining people from out of town, this is sure to impress them. Monday -Friday 4-7pm

5) Hotel Shangri-la
With summer just around the corner, the pool bar at the Shangri-la is a great way to wind down the day. Happy Hour is Mon – Fri 5-7pm w/ $5 cocktails & snacks.  Ditch Day Fridays has Happy Hour all day long! If you don’t have a 9-5pm job and work most weekends, then once in a while it is OK to take a day off and pretend you are on vacation, or you can even call it  prospecting.

Now that you know where to go, it’s important to point out the places to avoid: R & D and Father’s Office on Montana Avenue

R&D Kitchen has no happy hour during the week but they do at least have five-dollar Mimosas and Bloody Marys over the weekend. Plus here is an insider tip: you can bring your own wine for no corkage fee. So although it won’t make my “best” list, I still go there quite frequently (after all, it is across the street from my office).

I would definitely vote Father’s Office as the worst Happy Hour as they simply don’t have one. Additionally, the tables are on a first-come-first-served basis, so unless people are willing to let you squeeze in to their table or you are willing to stand at the bar, then meeting up with a group of friends can be challenging. Furthermore, be sure not to ask for your burger to be prepared any other way than the way the chef intended and don’t ask for ketchup with your fries – the bartender will give you the evil eye. If only the burgers there weren’t so good…

So although I may seem like an expert, there are plenty of Happy Hours I still have l not checked out.  There is a very nice list out there if you want information on other places to go.

I’m curious to know what Happy Hours are your favorite?  Where have you been lately that didn’t impress you? Do you agree with any of my choices? Would love to hear your feedback.

Photo courtesy of diongillard’s Flickr


  1. says

    I love the happy hour at Sonoma Wine Garden, especially when you get to sit on the couches and they give you blankets. The best happy hour I’ve been to lately is Ozumo, also at Santa Monica Place. The drinks are wonderful and the sushi rolls are only $5!

  2. Jessica Griffiths says

    Thanks Shann! I’m a fan of late night happy hours – they used to have one at the Tar Pit, but they don’t have it anymore. Love the best/worst list- telling it like it is!

  3. Wendy says

    totally agree, fig is amazing. i love their menu and it’s fantastic to sit outside and have happy hour by the pool. i had loup de mer last time- it was perfect. fantastic selection of cheeses, too. i’ve been to a late night happy hour at the palm in other cities- starts at 9 and the menu is priced around 5-8 / dish. if they have it going here, it’s a great option. hitting up boa’s happy hour tomorrow night, i will let you know if it’s a best or worst of (i’m going to assume best!). great article shann!

  4. F. Ron Smith says

    The Sonoma Wine Bar is excellent. The ocean views and sunset make it a great destination. They have an exceptional Marguerita too.

  5. Jackie says

    My new favorite is the newly opened Tasting Room at the Wine Expo (also the best place to find an extraordinary bottle of Champagne in any budget). The room is cozy and dim, with a bar and a dozen or so tables. They have an excellent happy hour 7 days a week 5-7pm. All wine (by the glass or flight) and beer is 50% off. They also serve up some appetizers (think cheese and charcuterie, since they lack a full kitchen). Wednesday evenings they host a food truck and will pair a glass of wine to match. Really a nice find and a highly recommended happy hour.

  6. says

    The Lobster also has a great Happy Hour. The food is delicious, views are great, and the staff is very accommodating. Thanks for sharing your favorites, I look forward to checking these out.

  7. says

    For the slightly less refined tastes and south of Santa Monica, I’d recommend Backstage Bar and Grill across from Sony Studios if only for the five-dollar 22oz bottle of Racer 5 IPA, my current favorite alcoholic beverage. It’s a top-quality beer and for that price it’s unbeatable. Plus they have drink and food specials until 8pm.

  8. Richard Stearns says

    Who can forget the classic Warzawa!!! Indoor outdoor cocktailing at its finest! Otherwise, a good assessment.

  9. E says

    I like Zengo which has a great happy hour … yellow tail sushi, calamari salad, terayaki chicken, and thai chicken empanadas and great spanish red wine and thai beer from 5-7pm every night.. $5 dollar per dish, and $3 beers and $6 wine.. and the food of richard sandoval restaurant is really good esp the views from the deck above 3rd street. Also, misfits also has a good happy hour if you want something more full ambiance and loud esp on fridays 5-7. But for a date i like Zengo as you can hear yourself talk..and the Huntley sunset hour is great also.

  10. TC says

    I love the cocktails at the Basement Tavern on Main Street and love the fact that the happy hour goes until 8PM even more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *