The Place: Fins Creekside, 23504 Calabasas Road, Calabasas; (818) 223-3467.
The Hours: Monday through Thursday, from 5 to 7 p.m.; Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., and 9 to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 9 to 11 p.m.
The Deals: Free appetizers; $5 well drinks; $5 wines; $3 draft beers.
The Digs: Fins is nestled in Old Town Calabasas, next to a boutique consignment store, across the street from old Western-themed bar/restaurant Sagebrush Cantina. The restaurant's exterior is shrouded by vines and tall trees, and on the outdoor patio, diners can literally eat creekside, while being serenaded by croaking frogs. The restaurant was designed and partially built 16 years ago by owner Moez Megji, who also owns Fins in Westlake Village, Zin Bistro and Buddha Lounge. Judging by the wine lockers behind the bar, it seems that a select few (well, 30 to be exact) have taken to the place, storing their own wines for a lower corkage fee.
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The Verdict: Driving to Calabasas from the Westside or Eastside on a weekday is admittedly a trek. But how far is one willing to go for free food? Good free food that is. With no doorman, no half-naked waitress, and free gourmet appetizers, it's difficult to imagine this spot in an area like West Hollywood. The happy hour menu is fairly basic, and the crowd consists mainly of locals in their early 20s to 80s from Calabasas, Westlake, Woodland Hills, and sometimes as far as Santa Monica. Lemon drops seemed the popular choice among the ladies sitting at the bar, but you can order pretty much anything made with the house liquor during happy hour. Each drink was accompanied by a different appetizer. The menu, which changes frequently based on what's in season, included: mini pizzas with potato bites, spicy tomato sauce and veggies; Ahi tuna tartare tacos with sweet chili sauce; cheesy potato skins; onion rings, and bruschetta with mini shrimps, served on potato slices. Stay long enough and you can pretty much consume an entire dinner's worth.
Overall Grade: A