The almost Robert Frost-like wine-induced drunken tales. The peculiar looks of the joint. The almost moat-like feel out front. From my perspective, Michael's in Santa Monica held all the secrets of "The Player"-Hollywood. Drugs, vodka-sodas aplenty, loud talkers and expensive "American food," amongst other things. They were all, at least metaphorically, in there. But me and you, certainly, were not.
Despite a Third Street Promenade-adjacent locale, it nevertheless appeared as far away from westside everyman as possible. No matter how good the food, it also just simply seemed of a time long forgotten. Having not adjusted with the modern LA culinary landscape, it appeared destined for a fate similar to many of its 90s brethren. Then they did something radical... they made the place affordable.
Like you and me affordable. At least somewhat.
To prove the space and bill of fare revamp weren't simply marketing ploys, Michael's invited a handful of bloggers to test the new wares. Always wanting to try the spot, I jumped at the chance to finally enter the hallowed grounds.
I quickly found out the refresh was not a ploy. Aside from trimming down the dining room dinner pricepoint, Michael's added a 5 pm to close Happy Hour at the bar, to compliment an also new, more frugal, always available Bar Bites menu. This includes a handful of cocktails too. Don't fret though: while the prices are lower, the cooking remains in the higher echelon that made Michael's famous in the first place. In fact, for the area, I can't really think of a stronger bang-for-the-buck HH game. Let alone a similar restaurant of this ilk with such an affordable, all-night bar offering. Is it Valley-hole-in-the-wall-sushi-spot-Happy-Hour cheap? No. It shouldn't be though. For the quality, it's very hard to beat.
Also one of the biggest assets: despite a facelift, it still very much has the feel of the place you want when you go to Michael's. You might not spot Griffin Mill in a roomy three-piece, but it still possesses that vintage LA/Hollywood charm. Just with a slightly more neighborhood-y feel. It now is that place you can go for a quick bite before the movies. Or for a fairly-priced drink after work.
Below find pictures of my favorites off the Happy Hour and Bar Bites menus...
Beef Sliders (Russian dressing, Maui onion, pickle, Gruyere).
Margherita (burrata, tomato, basil).
"Chicken And Waffle" Wings (waffle-battered wings, w/ bourbon-aged maple syrup, chile salt).
Not on HH menu/not cheap, yet I had to try their renowned namesake burger. After all, Father's Office's Sang Yoon started in the Michael's kitchen back in the day. You can certainly taste some of the influences in both burgers...
Michael's Burger (ground Wagyu beef, bacon-onion compote, tomato, butter lettuce, Russian dressing, white cheddar).
1147 Third Street, Santa Monica.
New Happy Hour Menu at the bar, 5 pm-close, Monday-Saturday.