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Jan 26, 2004 10:35 PM

Beer and fellowship in Santa Monica

  • t

There'll be between 10-20 of us, probably; mostly male; between 20-50 years old and resolutely unhip. We're coming from all over the place (London being the most distant) and would like to get together on a Friday night a couple of weeks from now.

We're looking for a place in Santa Monica or West L.A. Should have enough room for us to have a good time without disturbing others; beer, at least; maybe cheap eats. We want to talk, so no loud music (though maybe a place that brings a band in later in the evening would be OK, so long as there's no cover!).

The last one we had was at the Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood, which was perfect. One before that was at a Shakey's, which was also perfect, 'cept i seem to be the only one who liked it.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Ye Olde King's head in Santa Monica. English Pub...good beer selection, british theme, fish n' chips.


    11 Replies
    1. re: Xericx

      Try Chez Jay on Ocean Avenue or The Galley on Main Street,
      both in Santa Monica. In Venice try the Globe ( they'll probably
      do a special menu if you want) or Hal's.

      1. re: garyis

        Thanks, everybody (and keep 'em coming, if any of you has something new to recommend).

        Paddy: the reason we thought about a pub -- and have used one in the past -- isn't so much because it's British (I would never take someone from Naples to an Italian restaurant, for instance), is because the way one's set up is just right for our kind of gathering.

        The King's Head (aka the Royal Flush?) was my first thought, but I'm not a West Sider, and appreciate the recommendations from those of you who are.

        What's the parkng situation like at the King's Head? This will be, alas, on a Friday night, though with as early as, say, 7 p.m.

        1. re: TE

          King's Head also a good choice.

          Parking at King's head can be difficult after 5:00 on a friday - as is the rest of Downtown SM. Recommend parking in Santa Monica Place if you can't find a metered space on the street. The other public structures may be packed out... Or you could try the lot across the street for $8.

      2. re: Xericx

        Kings Head is an excellent suggestion. There is a room at the back (east end) of Kings Head that you may be able to reserve, or hold by force, for your group. When my wife and I got married some years ago, we commandeered this room (with the help of the management) one night for a casual pre-wedding hangout for friends arriving from out of town.

        1. re: Xericx

          First off, "Beer and Fellowhip" the title of your post.

          Second, Ye Old King's Head is an excellent rec from Xericx.

          Lastly, I attended something like this a couple of years back with a slightly smaller group at Father's Office (not literally, or my father would not have been too pleased...)

          It may be a little small if the group trends closer to twenty in number, but Father's Office has a really great beer selection (several imports and hard to find microbrews ON TAP), small tapas-style eats, and perhaps the best burger on the West Side. Great atmosphere, lively, yet not too loud, and the room, sort of dark, with lots of burnished wood, is very smart. Recently I brought my parents here (both in their 60's) and we had a blast.

          Father's Office
          1018 Montana
          Santa Monica, CA 90403
          (310) 393-2330

          1. re: Eric Archer

            i would hesitate to suggest father's office only because it gets packed fast (no tables to sit at), and it is VERY loud.

            1. re: jaydee

              Likewise The Library, actually. Plus, both are very small. And is your mate from London really going to want to go to the Kings Head? Coals to Newcastle and all that.
              You might want to investigate O'Briens on Wilshire.

              1. re: paddy

                O'Brien's on Wilshire is a good choice, as would be the O'Briens on Main St. in Venice. Or possibly what used to be called McGinty's (now the Red Setter?) on Wilshire just east of 26th in Santa Monica.

                (Note that I also think that both Fathers Office & the Library would be better, but the size of the group would make the Library problematic, and Father's Office a disaster unless they arrive the moment the place opens.)

                1. re: Jack

                  Is that place called McGinty's now? I remember it used to be called the Red Setter, but then became an abomination by cladding itself in fake white brick and changing its name to the awful Sonny McLeans, a name that's about as Irish as our Governor's. Can it be that it's changed its name back again? I can only hope...

                  1. re: paddy

                    I hope it's not still Sonny McLean's. In truth, I haven't been inside in a long time, but I did peek in within the last couple of months and was pleased to see the bartender (also named Jack) was still working there. It was a hang with cheap pitchers & decent baconburgers when I was in grad school, longer ago than I care to admit.

                    Another nearby possibility might be The Shack, just West of 26th, across the street...great burgers et al, cheap pitchers, not too loud if I remember correctly. It's no Father's Office, though, but won't be as jammed, either.

                    1. re: paddy

                      Re: McLean's:

                      Been a regular of "that building" since the early 80s (dating myself), know the owner (Jim), and yes his grandfather (the bar's namesake) *was* in fact from Ireland. Sorry 'paddy', but that's the scoop. Anyway, that "fake white brick" you refer to was I believe added during the post McGinty's renovation when it was Red Setter - around 1997 or '98.... around the same time the *real* booths were imported from auction of a Glasgow pub. I am not one for faux-oirish pubs - in fact i have yet to come across one in the states that's even close - but I think The Setters-cum-McLean's has been done with "acceptable" taste. Prior to that it was McGinty's and during it's final days as a once-great SM beer-swilling institution, things were really shakey. Food wasn't served anymore (health inspector closed them down), beer poorly kept and *randy*, and it was ... well, a dump. Thank our lucky stars it wasn't turned into a clothing store or real-estate office, and is still a decent pub for long-time SM locals to hang in.

                      Anyway, Jack (of McGinty's era) is no longer there - story of Santa Monica and it's ever-changing gentrification I suppose? However, I can vouch for some of the food items - burgers are ok, and the clam chowder is very good. Beer tap awesome *and* well kept.

                      As far as a party of 20, just try not to pack out the Friday afternoon pool game, thx ;)

                      I can also vouch for O'Brien's as a decent place to pack 10-20 yobs into. Owner is attentive and it's more conversation-friendly (sans juke box). Burgers are *excellent*

                      Hope that helps.

          2. Library Ale House on Main Street in SM.


            1. If you don't need to be right on the beach, The Daily Pint on Pico near Cloverfield (2310 Pico Blvd) is a great spot. Very large place, so you should be able to find seating. Good bar accoutrements like darts and shuffleboard. Usually not over crowded like the spots near 3rd or main, though it can fill up.

              1. You might try Ye Olde King's Head in Santa Monica. They have a room they use for large groups.

                Ye Olde King's Head
                116 Santa Monica Blvd.
                Santa Monica, CA
                310 451-1402

                1. The other posters' remarks about F.O. being too loud and crowded are right on, also at $4.50 and up for a hate to see someone have to break out a $100 JUST to buy the first round for a large group. But it does epitomize "beer-S.M."
                  With a SINCERE hope to make a suggestion that won't generate ANY JOKES or a huge DEBATE...the S.S. Friendship is a GREAT OLD Santa Monica bar (see the "S.M. Dive Bars R.I.P." posts from this board to see how few are left.).
                  It , like ALL bars on fridays, can be a "SCENE" and might not be for everyone in a large group. But if you want to hang out and talk with friends over some drinks in Santa Monica... it should not be overlooked.
                  If it' s not right for your situation try the bar at Pico Bowl or if you can hunker-down for the long haul early enough, the big booth at the Gaslight on Wilshire would be good. I'd hope they wouldn't charge a cover to the crowd inside once the music starts.
                  Sounds like a fun night I hope this helps.
                  And if all else fails there's always answer "d.) All of the above"

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: l.g.i.

                    One last word on Father's Office before the idea is dismissed out of hand...

                    As I said in the original post, I participated in a gathering similar to your own not too long ago. It was about ten, maybe twelve of us. We had a great time.

                    I acknowledge that FO is small, and can get a little loud when packed. If you time your visit right, though, I would still consider this place.

                    If you can manage to, go a little later, when the after-work/dinner crowd has dissipated. We met there around 9:00PM (on a Thursday) and felt like we had sufficient room (some sitting at tables, some standing around the bar) and the din of conversation was not unbearable.

                    To repeat, if, in fact your group will number around twenty, then I would consider other recommendations posters have mentioned...