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Feb 10, 2002 12:41 PM


  • c

Am looking for a nice bar with a pleasant happy hour and good bar snacks in Santa Monica. I understand Toppers at the top of the Radisson Huntley Hotel at 1111 Second St. might suit? I hear the adjacent restaurant used to serve Mexican food but has gone to a broader menu. Would value a Chowhound's opinion as to quality of bar and restaurant. Anyone?

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  1. Great margaritas, but they can be rather pricey if you order the top shelf stuff like Herradura or Patron. The house margaritas are good, anyway, and they come in a carafe with a generous overpour. Personally, I think it's a waste to order the top shelf stuff in a margarita since you can't taste the subtleties--I go with the "mid-line" brands and get a shot of the good stuff on the side. Don't let them convince you to order a pitcher as they are rather small (I think I managed to pour two-and-a-half to three glasses, but it was priced more like buying four or five).

    During happy hour Toppers has a Mexican buffet. It looks pretty good, but to be honest all I've tried is the chips and salsa. I have eaten at the restaurant once and was pleased, but not blown away. My date had swordfish and I had seafood enchiladas -- both were flavorful and well prepared, but not the sort of thing that I absolutely have to return for. The lobster quesadilla appetizer that we shared was just okay, and I wouldn't order it again.

    The best thing about Toppers is the view, which on a day like today is incredible.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chris G.

      Agree that the best thing about Toppers is the view. The food used to be better, but since they went to the less Mexican and more hotel-food menu, it's really mediocre. Still, for happy hour and a view of the sun going down over the Pacific, it's a nice choice.

    2. (Ghoulish-so shoot me)
      We sat up at Toppers during some of the Malibu and Bel Air blazes.
      The Santa Anas wrap the smoke right around the top of the restaurant, and provide spectacular sunsets.
      During last months 10 foot waves, the views of the corduroy lines in the ocean were amazing.
      Natural disasters go better with Margueritas.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bob Barnett

        LOL on where to dine during fire disasters. Where do you go for earthquakes?

        1. re: Coyote500

          Definitely not Toppers... tall buildings are such a bitch in an earthquake plus that whole liquefaction thing... "Foolish is he who builds his house upon the sand."

          I'd have to say that during the Big One I'd want to be in a one-story building that's not in danger of sliding down anywhere... I was going to say La Cachette but it's on that little rise on Little Santa Monica. Perhaps Wildflour Pizza on Main St.

          1. re: Coyote500

            A nice picnic on the beach-while waiting for a tidal wave.

        2. As a Santa Monica native (42 yrs), I've been "roped" into Toppers many a time... usually by dates. (My wife is still a sucker for the place, view, etc., and still tries to drag me down there on occasion). I agree that the view is very nice.... but then, so is the view from the bluffs... (As is about 2 dozen other secret spots where a glass of champagne on the hood of one's car works wonders in the romance department).

          But alas, I digress... The margaritas are merely OK. Not as high-priced as you might find in other Romance Traps, but... For dinner comments, I will leave it to previous posters (search "toppers") to rave about. As far as the happy hour buffet goes, if you enjoy "gastritic revisitation," then this stuff is for you. Enjoy with fortitude! If you like the clientele at Gladstone's, then I suppose this is HappyRocks with a view(?)

          The glass elevator ride might still rate as fun. But then, it was fun when I was 9. ;)

          2 Replies
          1. re: cagey

            I did do a search on Toppers and came up with not much in the way of info. Your post was very helpful. Since you don't like this spot, would appreciate hearing about a good happy hour here in Santa Monica? View isn't that important to me. Point me in the right direction?

            1. re: Coyote500

              Sorry, I suppose I shouldn't have trashed the place... I guess I have a thing about places that tend to cater to the trendy tourist dollar. Perhaps you should at least give it a try for the view and a drink during happy hour... Bear in mind that jockeying for a window table after 3:30 can be both tricky and sticky. Gotta be quick. And maybe you'll find the free buffet palatable, who knows?

              Sadly I don't have time for Happy Hour pursuits the way I used to, and the places I do frequent aren't among the "hot spots" for the beautiful people and / or dot-com refugees.

              Some places that I frequent in SM that have so-called "happy hour" after 4:00 pm.

              O'Brien's - Wilshire @ 23rd (and also on Main St.)
              Sonny MacLean's - Wilshire @ 26th (Beer / wine only)
              JP's - Wilshire @ 11th st.
              Daily Pint - Pico @ 23rd

              Wish I could list more, but maybe other hounds will chip in...?