Los Angeles, CA 90045
Parking: Free lot (pretty awesome in LA!)
Days: Monday – Friday
Drink Deals: $3 Domestic Bottled Beers, $5 Wines by the glass and House Drinks, $6 and $7 Specialty Cocktails
Food Deals: $2-7 Appetizers and Small Plates
In LA, it’s not just a good friend who volunteers to pick you up at the airport, it’s a damn saint. Seriously, there are pockets of time that make airport rides quick and easy – too bad those times are usually during hours that anyone in their right mind should be in bed! Seriously, in a slightly brutal recent trip – it took me an hour driving to LAX from from Hollywood and then it took us an hour and a half to get back. So like 30 miles in 2.5 hours. Wowzahs! The good news is that I think I’ve finally discovered the key to inner peace on rush hour airport rides (well, besides giving your guests $30 for a Super Shuttle ride :). And that would be stopping off for a post pick-up Happy Hour at the Proud Bird, the delightful aviation themed restaurant a couple miles from the airport on the appropriately named Aviation Blvd!
I’d been to the Proud Bird once before, well outside it. The Alamo Cinema Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow brought JACKIE BROWN (1997, d. Quentin Tarantino) to screen in the area where it was filmed. When something or other fell through at the original Torrance mall location, the roadshow traveled up to the Proud Bird, where an appreciative audience could watch the film on an inflatable screen under the stars… and the jet stream of all the incoming aircraft!! Suffice to say, we couldn’t hear sh*t and left shortly after the movie began. But the experience was fun and memorable!
The Proud Bird is a great stop after LAX – the parking lot and “back yard” area host a museum of old planes from many eras, ripe for any photo shoot! The actual restaurant reminds me of a steakhouse from back home in the midwest – carpeted floors, wood panels, you know what I’m talking about.
The Lounge where Happy Hour is served.
After taking a look at the planes, we headed to the lounge where Happy Hour is served on Monday to Friday from 4-7pm. The HH menu is pretty fair with quite a few items at good prices. Amelia & I started the evening with a round of $6 cocktails – the Rock Coconut Mojito (Bacardi Rock Coconut, fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar & a splash of club soda) for Amelia, and for moi – the Sangria Blanco (Brandy, chardonnay, peach schnapps, organic agave nectar, fresh orange and pineapple juice, served with fresh fruit). Both were fine and dandy and sweet as candy!
Rock Coconut Mojito and Sangria Blaco ($6 each)
Proud Bird’s food Happy Hour options are diverse from $2 Street Tacos or French Fries to $5 options like Soup of the Day and Bruschetta all the way up to $7 options like Crab Cakes, Ahi Tuna Tower, and Sliders with Cheese. Our slightly older bartender who very much fit the bill of what I might expect at a slightly upscale airport bar didn’t seem amused when I asked him what the best options were. Maybe to him it’s like going to McDonald’s and asking what’s good (note to self, when in need of a good kick, try that sometime :)!
So we bravely faced the Happy Hour menu alone (haha) and decided on the $5 Hummus & Pita Bread and the $6 Calamari. The serving sizes were good – especially the former featuring three different hummuses (what is the plural of hummus, anyway?!). Everything tasted fine, fair-enough bar fare.
Hummus & Pita Bread ($5)
Really, the best part of the Proud Bird experience is your proximity to the airport and that great yard for watching the planes fly in. And given that proximity, you’d think noise might be an issue (like for the JACKIE BROWN screening), but Proud Bird must have some strong sound-proofing because I don’t recall it bothering us once!
The view from the yard.
The worst part of the Proud Bird experience is the 15% service charge – which prior to my Aroma visit, I had not experienced in my 10 years living in LA. Sidenote: subsequent to both these visits, I stopped at the Tropicana Bar at the Hotel Roosevelt where 2 margaritas cost my friend $42 with a built-in service charge. For real, for real. What is the universe telling me with these LA service charges? At least Tropicana’s service charge clearly covers the gratuity (as their bartenders will tell you). At Proud Bird, the bartender showed me a note about the service fee:
As a tenant of the Los Angeles Department of Airports, the Proud Bird is governed by the Living Wage Ordinance of the City of Los Angeles. In order to assist us in honoring the Living Wage Ordinance, and in lieu of raising menu prices, we assess a 15% fee on all sales.
None of this fee is paid a gratuity to employees. We invite you to leave a gratuity separately. Your understanding and continued patronage is greatly appreciated.
I don’t know – something just seems strange about that. How is a service fee ANY different than jacking up your prices by 15%? And encouraging your guests to leave a separate gratuity works on bleeding hearts like me, but I’m sure other diners aren’t so friendly about it. Asi es la vida.
Still, even with the service charge – our trip to Proud Bird was a good airport ride/sanity saver as the drive home only took us half the time!
Rating: 3 Martinis