Happy Hour: Coast – Santa Monica, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

Drive west far enough on any of the streets in Santa Monica and before long you’ll find the beach. Cass and I were scoping out some beachfront locations and decided to stop in at Coast for happy hour which runs from 4pm-7pm, Monday through Thursday at the bar. Located in the beautiful Shutters on the Beach hotel, immediately adjacent to Casa Del Mar, Coast offers ocean views, fresh seafood, and great mixed drinks. Bonus: the happy hour menu features special pricing on appetizers as well as house wines and select cocktails.

Coast - The Open Kitchen

Coast – The Open Kitchen

Cass and I like to plan ahead, so when the bartender asked us what we would like from the happy hour menu, we said “One of everything!” Really. I’ve always wanted to do that. In fact, for the fish tacos and oysters, we had to order two. The bartender chuckled as she entered our order in the POS.

Blackberry Bramble

Blackberry Bramble – $14

To celebrate it being Thursday, I ordered a Blackberry Bramble – Hendricks gin, lemon juice, agave, blackberries. I had spotted it when I first glanced at the menu and knew I had to try it. Full of muddled blackberries and a generous pour of refreshing cucumber gin, this drink was perfect for enjoying the beautiful summer day.

Oyster Bar Chalkboard

Oyster Bar Chalkboard

The far end of the bar features a glass display housing a mountain of ice and fresh oysters. That day’s varieties were Misty Point, Malpeque, and Kumiai – a respectable selection for August. (Though I recently learned that the mnemonic of eating oysters only in months that end in -er is actually an outdated myth.)

Oyster of the Day - $2 each

Oyster of the Day – $2 each

We ordered two of the Oyster of the Day (Misty Point, I believe). Shucked to order and nested on a bed of crushed ice, the oysters were served with a spicy cocktail sauce and a vinegary tart mignonette. Not too sweet and not too briny, these oysters were a great way to whet our appetite for the fried goodies to come.

Fried Calamari with Tartar Sauce - $6

Fried Calamari with Tartar Sauce – $6

The fried calamari were crispy with a light coating of batter and a tangy house-made tartar sauce. These were good but not particularly special, and personally I prefer my calamari with a bright marinara sauce rather than a creamy tartar.

Fish Tacos - $2 each

Fish Tacos – $2 each

Grilled fish tacos (by far my favorite over the deep-fried kind) on a house-made corn tortilla and topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and shredded lettuce. The epitome of California beach cuisine, these fish tacos made us feel right at home.

Meatball Sliders with Provolone - $6

Meatball Sliders with Provolone – $6

These sliders were Cass’ favorite dish of the night – a pair of little round buns sandwiching savory, moist meatballs completely enrobed in melted, stringy provolone cheese, layered with a thick dill pickle slice. Taking the first bite was a bit of a challenge (it’s so tall!) but it’s well worth the effort to get a bit of everything in each bite.

Coast Ceviche with Warm Tortilla Chips - $5

Coast Ceviche with Warm Tortilla Chips – $5

This was my favorite dish of the evening. With hearty, sizable chunks of  white fish marinated in lime juice with diced tomato, brunoise of shallots, and plenty of cilantro, the ceviche was the perfect light and refreshing summer dish. The warmed tortilla chips, in both regular and blue corn, added a colorful contrast.

Corn Meal Crusted Rock Shrimp - $6

Corn Meal Crusted Rock Shrimp – $6

Both of us agree that our second favorite of the night was the corn meal crusted rock shrimp. Nuggets of fresh, sweet shrimp coated in a thin crispy layer of corn meal (and fried, of course), these were too easy to just pop in your mouth and devour them all!

The Dessert Display

The Dessert Display

We were debating whether we should order more food when we recalled the cake display we saw right when we walked into the restaurant (genius, we thought!). It was hard for us to decide, so we asked the guy behind the counter to please bring us a slice of his favorite…

Old Fashioned Six Layer Chocolate Cake - $10 a slice

Old Fashioned Six Layer Chocolate Cake – $10 a slice

…the Old Fashioned Six Layer Chocolate Cake from SusieCakes in Brentwood. An impressive monstrosity of super moist semisweet chocolate cake, thick and velvety ganache, and a thin layer of sugary frosting, this dessert was exactly what we needed to finish our meal. Surprisingly, it was not too sweet despite being so decadent and satisfying.

Saltwater Taffy

Saltwater Taffy

The offerings on the happy hour menu here are Coast are perfect for sharing with a friend. We were glad to have had the opportunity to try all of the delicious appetizers and by the time we polished off the last bite of cake, we were stuffed, though not too full for just one more little treat — a colorful piece of saltwater taffy! If you live or work in the Santa Monica area, definitely mosey on by to Shutters on the Beach and enjoy sunshine and HH here at Coast.

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Check out Coast: shuttersonthebeach.com

1 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405

See their Yelp reviews here!

Day Six – San Francisco: Chez Maman and Tropisueno

Food Adventures, San Francisco

After a brutal 19-hour Greyhound ride (never again), we arrived in San Francisco and the first thing we did was pass out in our hotel room. After all was said and snoozed, we made our way out to Chez Maman, actually walking past it to Chez Papa and getting extremely confused before doubling back to the tiny hole-in-the-wall that boasts the best burger in SF.

We lucked out to catch the odd time between lunch and dinner and didn’t have to wait at all to be seated. Service, however, seemed to scale down with the slowdown in customers. We had very high expectations for the aforementioned burger.

Voila! Basic Burger w/ Swiss and Bacon, Side of Frites w/ Garlic Aioli

We ordered it the burger with swiss and bacon, rare. The burger turned out medium, disappointing. Had it been cooked correctly, it could’ve rivaled a lot of LA burgers, as the patty itself was well seasoned. The frites were also delicious with plentiful amounts of garlic in the aioli, perhaps a tad too much.

Crepes being formed then – regrets being formed now at not ordering one.

Next time I would be inclined to try their crepes and the much-raved-about carbonara and other classic French dishes. We saw many batches of moules frites being prepared, one of Alice’s favorite dishes. Definitely will give this place another chance.

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Check out Chez Maman:

1453 18th St
(between Missouri St & Connecticut St)
San Francisco, CA 94107

See their Yelp reviews here.

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Still drained from our ridiculous Greyhound misadventure and not too long after Chez Maman, we decided to stay close to the hotel and check out Tropisueño. As a caveat, we rarely have Mexican food, especially for dinner, but we thought “sure why not?” – partly out of how tired we were and how conveniently located it was.

Throughout the long trip to the Pacific Northwest I’d been craving sugarcane Coke, commonly dubbed “Mexican Coke,” but hadn’t had the opportunity to grab one. If there were a restaurant to get these, a Mexican restaurant was definitely the place to try, and lo and behold!

To accompany our delicious unsubsidized drink, we had what is purportedly SF’s best chips and salsa. Very fresh, crispy, and homemade – definitely made the same day or even several hours ago.

The chips came with a ménage a salsa: traditional red salsa, green tomatillo salsa, and a spicy chipotle salsa.

Alice ordered the ceviche de pescado – diced opaque cubes of tilapia, finely diced cucumber and avocado, bits of onion and cilantro, and lots of lime juice.

I really could’ve gotten these in LA but for whatever reason I got the street-food-style pork tacos.

Slightly more expensive than the food truck variety but tastes a little better. We shared the Cuban-style platanos fritos with black beans and Mexican crema. We weren’t a fan of the black beans, but then again, we’re not a big fan of beans in general. But the crema was an interesting addition to the crispy-fried plantains.

We finished our dinner with the Mexican flan which was a lot thicker than we anticipated, almost like a cheesecake.

Tropisueño was definitely impressive considering that neither of us are huge fans of Mexican food. We’ll have to check out the Happy Hour deals — and bring 5 friends (they’ll comp the host’s drinks for the whole night if you do!).

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Check out Tropisueño: www.tropisueno.com

75 Yerba Buena Ln
San Francisco, CA 94103

See their Yelp reviews here.