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Need spot for pre-dinner drinks - Santa Monica/Brentwood - Nice selection

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I'm in need of a nicer spot for pre-dinner drinks in the Santa Monica/Brentwood area. We're doing dinner at Javan on Santa Monica & Barrington (excellent persian, IMHO), and need to kill an hour or so with the group. Looking for a place with good cocktails, a decent wine list, not *too* fancy (so that we wouldn't feel weird just having drinks). Happy hour is a plus, but not necessary.

Thank you!

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  1. Arsenal on Pico at Bundy (just east of it). The patio is nice, great happy hour, great bartender.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yogachik

      Second Arsenal.

    2. The Arsenal has its fans and a certain atmosphere, but it doesn't open until 5 on weekdays and is on Pico considerably west from Javan a few blocks from the 405. Is there parking in the rear at the Arsenal? While Nook is definitely a restaurant, they also open at 5 and are just a few blocks away from Javan on the same side of Santa Monica Blvd. They do sell wine by the glass, have free easy parking, and wouldn't be crowded before 6:30 at the earliest, I'd think. While also a restaurant, I'd also think you could get a glass of wine early at Il Grano, on the north side of Santa Monica Blvd. Are there any places on Sawtelle where you can get a drink without ordering a lot of food? The stretch of Sawtelle with most of the restaurants is north of Olympic but well south of Santa Monica Blvd. I'm coming up pretty empty thinking of Wilshire -- Bandera is on the S/W corner of Federal and Literati 2 is at Bundy, but parking isn't easy or free. The Daily Grill on San Vicente in Brentwood gives $2 off glasses of wine between 4-7 on weeknights and validates parking in their building so it only costs a buck or two -- you can then head down Barrington to Javan. Good luck and report back.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        Only street parking at Arsenal, as I recall.

        1. re: nosh

          Arsenal has valet. Why is it important to be open before 5PM? OP didn't mention time.

          I had another thought - Upstairs on Contner. Don't know that they have a happy hour though.

        2. I think the Wilshire (at Wilshire and 25th) is great for this type of thing. Large bar somewhat separated from the restaurant, lots of people go there just for drinks. Loungy couches, good selection. There is also a smaller back bar that is outside and very pretty.

          1 Reply
          1. re: twe

            This is a great suggestion, I think this is perhaps the only place which has everything you're looking for.

          2. How about Rustic Canyon on Wilshire and 11th?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Queequeg

              This would sort of work as long as people are fine with just beer and wine (and OP specified good cocktails).

              I think the suggestions for Arsenal and Wilshire are both great. Parking at Wilshire is generally easier, I think, but the drinks are also more expensive.