The Place: Roosterfish, 1302 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 310-392-2123.
The Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Daily.
The Digs: A 2009 LA Weekly Best of Award entitled "Best Escape From West Hollywood" put it well: "Sometimes it's good, even necessary, to take a break from the glam and roar of gay nightlife and simply hang out and chill." This is great advice, even if gay nightlife is something you're not familiar with. Hang out and chill. Dodge the roar. Stop going to cramped lounges with DJs who won't play anything good for more than two choruses, places where a whiskey costs more than a car wash. Avoid even the rowdy dives where you're cajoled into capitalizing on beer-and-a-shot deals until you can't see straight enough to keep feeding quarters into a rigged Golden Tee game. This award went to Roosterfish, an unassuming Venice institution with a peaceful patio tucked into the back.
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The venture of two pioneering West Hollywood entrepreneurs, Roosterfish opened in 1979. We don't know for sure, but we can imagine it being little different then. Within the aqua walls, a few regulars share Thai take-out and chat with the bartender, and even at two p.m. icy margaritas crash on the bar with the steadiness of waves. Two men who have been drinking together slip into the bathroom. Everyone is oblivious to them, and when they emerge, red-faced and giggling, they are oblivious to the woman who has spent the past fifteen minutes calmly rapping on the door.
The Verdict: Stung by the sun, a most wicked star that invariably plagues our searches for suitable afternoon drinking spots, we last stopped in a couple of days before the Fourth of July. On Sundays, the bar offers $3 burgers and hot dogs from 1 - 6 p.m., but this was not a Sunday. A gin-and-tonic is, if we remember correctly, six dollars, hardly more expensive than a brew, though during Happy Hour (Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m.), prices for both beers and well drinks dip down to $3.50 apiece.
We had several, leaned back in a bench, and pretended we were wearing the overhanging canopy like a floppy summer hat. Since the Fourth was looming, a long-haired guy in a tank top with a tattoo of the state of Virginia parked an inch above his hip was littering the premises with snaps and setting off the occasional confetti cannon. His table tittered away as his girlfriend, celebrating a birthday, doled out the party favors to other patio denizens, who promptly set them off too. It was a fitting image: a patchwork of tables, laughter, a tiny swath of pebbled ground covered in little bright streamers and the snaps' acrid dust -- a laid-back party in miniature swelling up around those inclined to take a break, hang out, and chill.
Final Grade: B