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quiet cheap(ish) bar in Santa Monica/Pacific Palisades??

A friend is coming into town and I'd like to take her to a quiet bar. What I'm looking for...

1. On the Westside. SM or PP is ideal.
2. Quiet enough so that we can easily be heard when we talk. I do not care at all about the bar being popular or trendy (in fact, if that = crowded & noisy, then popular is a negative, not a positive).
3. Drinks not grossly overpriced. For me, inexpensive is less than $6 for a mixed drink; moderate is about $10; and grossly overpriced is $15 or more for one drink.
4. Not a bar that serves only beer. Neither of us drinks beer.
5. View is almost irrelevant, since we'll be meeting after dark. Although the bar at the top of the Huntley Hotel (was called "Toppers" years ago) would have been perfect, but now it's changed; it is horribly crowded and noisy, and drinks are extraordinarily expensive.
6. A nice vibe (e.g., fireplace, etc) would be a bonus, but not at all necessary.
7. A place to sit other than right at the bar would be best.

Main criteria are: location, price, and quiet.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions

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  1. Location might be a little too far from what you are looking for (2 minutes from the Santa Monica Airport) but it has all the other criteria you want: Lost & Found

    Lost & Found
    11700 National Blvd Ste D, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    1. If it's a weeknight, then I would say JP's, although it doesn't really meet your criteria for nice atmosphere. I also think now that the weather is warmer, the bar behind Warszawa would be perfect for this, although that's also assuming it's a weeknight.

      Warszawa Restaurant
      1414 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

      1. Hate to say this, but that is a tall order for SM or PP, where I happen to live and play.

        The only place I can think of in PP is Marix Tex Mex on W. Channel. Not the prettiest bar, but they do have tables there so you don't have to sit at the bar. I don't know if a mixed drink is less than $6, but their margaritas are decent, and if you decide to have more than one, a pitcher is the way to go. You can possibly go up pch to Gladstones and sit outside, but I think the drinks are pricey.

        My only other thought would be Pourtals, a wine bar in SM, on Santa Monica or Arizona (can't recall exactly) and Ocean. Don't know their prices either, and you may have to deal with the local after work crowd.

        1. The bar at the Oak Room in the Palisades is quiet, maybe even too quiet, but it would fit your budget. You may also want to try the lounge at Casa Del Mar in SM. It's quiet enough for conversation and has a nice vibe, but I'm not sure about the cost.

          Casa Del Mar
          1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405

          The Oak Room
          1035 Swarthmore Ave., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

          4 Replies
          1. re: whatsfordinner

            Casa Del Mar is great but the drinks are definitely over OP's budget. My other thought is getting a booth at Chez Jay, but I still have to urge my Warszawa suggestion as the best one :).

            Chez Jay
            1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Warszawa Restaurant
            1414 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            Casa Del Mar
            1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405

            1. re: whatsfordinner

              Casa del mar is in a hotel + ocean view = pricey for drinks.

              The oak room is not cheap, a glass of wine goes for upwards of $6. I spent over $20 for the reuben sandwich and a glass of wine at lunch recently.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                I concur with Warszawa on a weeknight.
                I like it there. I liked it better 3 years ago but it still beats most of the other haunts around there. That would be my #1 choice if you don't mind being outside and you don't need a luxurious space.
                R+D Kitchen on Montana--I haven't been by there on a weeknight in a long time--is it still crowded at nights? If it's deadish, that would be a nice spot.
                Casa Escobar on Wilshire and 25th is quiet and has a nice atmosphere in a non-swanky, non current kind of way. You may have to talk over the piano.

                Warszawa Restaurant
                1414 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                1. re: Wolfgang

                  Good call on Casa Escobar. R+D is still slammed every night of the week, annoyingly.

            2. Try Bar Food on Wilshire. Beer, Wine and Whisky. Decent food and cool ambiance and never packed. You can also try Angels nearby but that can get loud if they are playing live music, Prices are moderate at Angels and lower at Bar Food

              2 Replies
              1. re: gordo26

                I second Bar Food. The noise level is low, the space is comfortable, vibe is relaxed. This is a great place to unwind and enjoy some good beer.

                1. re: brokenyoke2

                  I was wondering about that place, still haven't made it there yet.

              2. Angels - their happy hour goes til 8PM, live jazz from 9PM on. Happy Hour all night on Tuesdays.
                Pearl Dragon - moderately priced, quiet, in the Palisades.
                Chaya Venice - happy hour all night, every night (Lychee martini is $5).

                Chaya Venice
                110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291

                Pearl Dragon
                15229 W Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

                9 Replies
                1. re: yogachik

                  OMG - how could I forget the Dragon?? It's my go to for ahi tartar!! And the ONLY bar in the palisades with a full liquor license. Oak room doesn't have one. You are good, yogachik!!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Some really nice suggestions, and ones I'll keep in mind. Another friend recommended Fraiche (Wilshire, b/t 3rd and 4th, in Santa Monica). Supposedly, okay drinks (we'll see what cocktails/mixed drinks are covered) and decent bar food. Hopefully, not too noisy. I'll post back here with my reaction after this coming Thursday.

                    1. re: santamonica811

                      I think their cocktails are in the $12-14 range:

                      I've only had beer and wine there so definitely report back if you end up trying the mixed drinks. They sound tasty.

                      1. re: santamonica811

                        I like Fraiche, but they have like, 4 seats at their bar, it is mainly a restaurant. And it is a bit noisy, when full of diners, not much in there to absorb the sound.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          Hmmm. I will be there during their happy hour (all night on Thursdays), so the drinks will hopefully be in the $5-7 range. I'll find out soon. :-)

                          1. re: santamonica811

                            Cool, I don't normally go there because it's generally so crowded but I hope you'll report back on how it worked out!

                            1. re: mollyomormon

                              My update:
                              1. I was there on a Thursday. This is the day when the "happy hour" lasts all evening. Also, there was a Lakers basketball playoff game on the TV (which was playing at Fraiche), so that might or might not have affected the number of people who were there.
                              2. I showed up with my friend at 8:00. There are only about 6 tables in the bar area, plus about 7 seats at the actual bar. We got the last 2 available seats.
                              3. Noise was manageable. It was not at all quiet, but we could hear each other without having to shout.
                              4. We got a regular pizza (either $6 or 8 bucks at Happy Hour . . . I forget the actual price). It was great. There were not many vegetarian options, but all the dishes looked gook and fairly priced, so meat-eaters would probably be very happy noshing here.
                              5. We told the bartender that we were there for Happy Hour, and what wine and cocktails did he recommend. He made his recc's, which we followed. Total of 2 cocktails + 1 glass of wine. But when the bill came, it was a bit under $40 for just the drinks! In other words; the bartender had recommended (and charged us for) drinks that were not covered by the happy hour discount. What a disappointment. Even though he did not lie to us, it was pretty deceptive, and the experience did leave a sour taste in my mouth.
                              6. For that reason, I'd never recommend Fraiche for its Happy Hour. (I now could avoid this scam if I did return, but I'd prefer to give my business to a bar that treated me in a way I thought was respectful and honest.) On the other hand, based strictly on the pizza we ate, I'd consider eating a regular meal here, and would give the food here high marks.

                              Fraiche Santa Monica
                              312 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                              1. re: santamonica811

                                Wow, I would have told that story to the manager and demanded happy hour prices for my drinks. That's totally uncool.

                                1. re: yogachik

                                  I (finally!!) did hear back from the manager. He said he would talk to the bartender (good), but didn't offer me a free meal, free drink, discounted anything (not so good). So, I give a mixed grade on the response (and a total fail in terms of the speed of the response).