LA isn’t a big happy hour metropolis. People here don’t celebrate Happy Hour, and yes, the word is “celebrate” because that is what I want to do when I leave the office ;) Because there aren’t a lot of people who go out at happy hour, not too many restaurants offer Happy Hour. Since there aren’t many restaurants that offer Happy Hour, people have nowhere to go for happy hour. It’s all just one vicious cycle, spiraling downward until all that’s left is Sarah sitting at her desk minutes before 5 pm, a crouching tiger behind the cubicle wall, mixing a can of Diet Coke from the vending machine with vodka from you-don’t-wanna-know in a coffee mug, toasting her chat buddies over IM.
I swear, that wasn't me last week. Really. Really.
But it doesn't seem that Los Angeles even cares that there is no real happy hour culture here. There never has been, so it's not something that they would miss. The idea of it never even occurs to them since most people work long past the appointed happy hour anyway, and by the time they actually do leave the office, it's so late, they just want to get on the freeway and make that half hour to 45-minute commute home. And there's certainly no way they'd do that commute happily buzzed on too many $2 drafts. That might turn into a Lohan/Benz incident.
No, the only people I know who talk about doing happy hour are friends who have tranplanted here from Happy Hour heavy cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, even friends from San Francisco and New York. In those cities, the working population is not so grossly dependent on auto (self) auto (car) transport. Public transportation makes it easy for co-workers to travel en masse to a local bar, get happy to the point of stupid, and then disperse on a relatively safe, DUI-free commute home.
I can't even imagine how nice it would be to actually have a decent bar within reasonable traveling distance of my office, and then be able to get home (safely) happily buzzed, lugging my laptop on the Big Blue Bus at 10:00 at night. I only have places like Pacifico's near here, and places like James Beach, Canal Club, and spots along Main Street in Santa Monica like World Cafe and Lula aren't reasonably close.
So I have to travel all the way up to West Hollywood, even less reasonably close than Santa Monica both in distance and in traffic travel time, but it happens to be the most central location to me and friends of mine who used to live in Wisconsin and Nebraska, and now live/work spread out all over this sprawling "city." On my 48-minute drive along Robertson Boulevard (three times longer than it should have been), I cursed every single over-sized luxury SUV pulling out of high-end furniture stores and rug galleries before finally arriving at Marix Tex Mex Cafe.
I was first of our group to arrive, but definitely not first in the restaurant. The few high bar tables in the tiny "atrium" area in front were already taken with smokers (ashtrays on the tables), and about three quarters of the regular tables covered with green picnic-checked tablecloths in the small, open-air dining room were filled with diners munching on chips, salsa, and other early bird dinners. I skipped to the back, sat down at the bar next to an odd couple, ordered the house "hora feliz" margarita and watched. It's okay, it's West Hollywood, I had sunglasses on, so no one could tell I was staring. And they didn't see me give the server "the look" when my margarita arrived in a wine glass. I don't mind that it's a wine glass, but a wine glass just seems so much...smaller. LOL!
When the boys finally arrived happy hour was coming to a close, and I made them quite aware of it. ;) I had finished my wine glass margarita and was ready for another. We moved to a regular table and ordered a pitcher, so I promptly forgot about how late they were. Gabbing like girls, we shooed the server away with "We're not ready" each time he came back to take our order, and before we knew it, we had finished three quarters of the pitcher, all of the chips, and three refills on the salsa. We finally ordered the Marix Sampler Platter to share. One appetizer to share amongst three people? I laughed at how obnoxiously LA we were being.
The sampler platter really is big enough to share with three, and if we really were all girls, it could have fed five. Marix isn’t authentic Mexican cuisine or regional like Oaxacan. It is Tex-Mex, which is a whole cuisine unto itself, and one of my favorites, having grown up on it San Antonio. I do love so many of the Mexican restaurants in LA, but I have to say that I will forever be an Old El Paso, refried beans and guacamole, Tex-Mex girl. The sampler platter had everything I remember from restaurants on the Riverwalk with strolling mariachi bands - chicken and beef chimichangas, quesadillas (there I go again!), nachos (my all time favorite), chicken soft tacos, and taquitos. Some of the items were
slightly overcooked, leaving the shells of the deep-fried chimichangas and taquitos a little hard and crunchy rather than crispy, and the fillings a touch dry. Guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream are exactly what that is for, though I was disappointed that the guacamole was a thin green sauce rather than a thick, chunky mess of avocadoes and onions with garlic, cilantro and lime juice.
The food isn’t exceptional, but that’s not really the point of Marix Tex Mex Cafe. The point is to go at happy hour, wear your sunglasses, watch the eye candy grow progresively more attractive (but still, all the same unattainable) as the levels in the margarita pitcher fall lower and lower, and of course, share a chimichanga.
As we left, a crispy-tanned, silver-haired man in a south beach shirt unbuttoned-to-there tapped my arm to let me know how faaaaab-you-lous my bag was. He made my night. :)
Marix Tex Mex Cafe
1108 North Flores Street
West Hollywood, CA 90069