325 Front Ocean Walk
Venice, CA 90291
Parking: $5 Venice Beach lots
Monday-Friday: 4pm- 12am closing; Saturday & Sunday: 7pm-closing; $2.50 bottle beers, $4 house wines, $4.50 specialty cocktails, plus pint & pitcher specials
It’s a wonder that any place on Venice Beach makes money after dark.
After dark, Venice Beach becomes a shady neighborhood that after-school specials warn you about. There are tent towns, funky painted buses & trailers with who knows who living inside, and skateboarding kids circling around people. Literally. It’s easy to catch a bit of yuppie guilt for being so close to such a scene. That is, if someone born in the 80’s can beconsidered a yuppie.
I ended up on Venice Beach on a Tuesday night to meet up with some friends working in the neighborhood – not in the shady parts. Luckily, there is safety in numbers because for the first time in a long time, I was afraid to walk up alone so a friend greeted me.
Given the likely economic state of people hanging in the neighborhood – and in the city in general, I guess it’s a nice thing that almost every bar and restaurant on the oceanfront offered a happy hour. It may not be my scene, but we all deserve a happy hour. As for us visitors, it was just a matter of picking a place that seemed the least scary. We ended up at Candle Café & Grill because we wanted a place with booze and food, plus it didn’t seem scary like some of the others.
I wish I had more photos of this adventure but the batteries in my camera died, just as I was taking photos of the exterior. It may have been my guardian angel’s way of saying “Get your ass inside!” This may also be a reason to get the iphone 4G – camera phone with flash!
Candle Café & Grill seemed like it was closed or closing at 9pm. The only indication that it was open was the happy hour sign out front. In fact, most places on this strip looked the same. It didn’t look like a bar or restaurant. It was just a wide-open space with some red lighting and a bar in the back. Our group of 10+ were just about the only ones inside. There was a couple dressed in Venice Beach logo sweatshirts that kept walking in and out. I couldn’t tell if they were tourists who lost their way or what.
Our group ordered some pitchers of beer, while me and another girly girl went for the $4 sauvignon blanc house wine. No one seemed to have any complaints about the beer. However, one of my friends thought it was warm, but after feeling the other chilled glasses, we determined her glass must have been straight from the dishwasher. Since it’s hard to find a terrible white wine, I gotta say my glass was just fine. I also suspect the bottle was fresh since they probably don’t get too many wine drinkers around those parts.
As for food, we ordered a bunch of fried goodies – another safe option. We had a couple of orders of onion rings and chicken wings, both at $5.95. Some people ventured out and ordered entrees. My seat neighbor ordered a beef burrito that was way more rice than beef, but we snacked on it anyway. There’s food options listed on the happy hour menu, but for the most part it didn’t seem like the prices differed from their regular menu.
The staff at Candle Grill was plenty nice, which was refreshing given my last happy hour review was at the impolite Checkers Downtown. I’m sure they were excited to see a nice crowd versus the circling riff raff outside. However, I would only go back if it were under the same circumstances – large crowd, happen to be in the neighborhood.
Rating: 2.5 Martinis