Happy Hour: The Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica
The Place: The Wilshire: 2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 586-1707.
The Hours: Monday-Saturday, 5-7 p.m.
The Deals: $8-$13 bar snacks; $8 specialty cocktails; $12 burgers; $5 wine and beer.
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The Digs: One of the more elegant restaurants on the block, The Wilshire sets the mood with dim lighting, teacup candles and pretty bartenders. Similar to other L.A. restaurants, no matter how fancy, there tends to be a guy in the corner spilling dirty martini-juice on his acid-washed jeans and Kate Moss T-shirt. The busiest nights tend to be Thursdays and Fridays. Any other night is ripe for picking up lone riders at the bar.
The Verdict: The restaurant is currently between chefs after the recent departure of executive chef Andrew Kirschner. Whoever is in the kitchen is doing a nice job of holding down the fort. The hamachi appetizer ($13) is fresh, tender, soaked in Asian dressing and garnished with a crisp, cucumber-radish salad. Though it won't fill you up, the burgers will. You can choose from three kinds: applewood bacon, blue cheese, or classic, all scrumptious in their own right. During happy hour, the burgers cost $12, discounted from $14-$17.
Even with the discounts, this isn't the most budget-friendly happy hour. If you're coming to watch a game and don't feel like being hassled by the typical rowdy bar crowd, it's nice. The Bees Knees ($8), a junipero gin cocktail with house-made triple syrup, is sweet, tart and pleasant, but you'd need far too many to get a good buzz going. We recommend the house wines, specialty cocktails (if you add an extra shot for an extra fee), or your own creation.