Some of L.A.’s finest restaurants are putting the happy back in happy hour with sophisticated menus of appetizers, sandwiches – even desserts – for drop-in, no-reservations, just-after-work dining. Hours and setups vary, but most offer a special menu of low-priced small-plate selections – the same-quality food that’s on the menu at higher prices a few hours later – and some drink specials.
At RÃ¶ckenwagner in Santa Monica, for instance, happy hour is Sunday to Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and the menu is available at tables in the lounge and on the patio. There’s a martini of the day (lemon drop Skyy, for example), a cocktail of the day (Cape Cods, margaritas) and a glass of wine of the day, all priced at $6. The small-plates menu consists of eight items, from a chicken hazelnut salad to a pretzel burger or ahi sandwich on brioche, all priced at $5.
Chaya Venice’s daily 5 to 7 p.m. happy hour menu focuses on sushi and other Japanese specialties such as scallop dynamite, all priced at $3 to $4 (scallop dynamite is $8.50 on the regular menu). At Pinot Hollywood, the happy hour burger ($5) is virtually the same as the regular and is available Monday through Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., along with dishes like short rib empanadas ($4) and drinks like a dirty vodka martini ($5) or the Peach Pit (vodka and rum with fresh juices, $4).