The Place: Fraîche Santa Monica, 312 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, (310) 451-7482.
The Hours: Friday-Monday 5-6:30pm, Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-close
The Deals: $5 select draft beer; $6 red, white and prosecco by the glass; $6 well; $3-$10 food.The Digs: Conveniently located around the corner from Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Fraîche Santa Monica's happy hour is the spot for shoppers who've hit their credit card limit and tourists on a budget. In fact, the Wednesday-Thursday all-night happy hours were so popular that the restaurant decided to start them on Tuesday instead. The deals are only available in the bar area, which is comprised of the bar, the bar-adjacent high tops and the lounge section by the large front windows looking out at Wilshire Boulevard. Even though the restaurant is just blocks away from the beach, you're unlikely to find diners dressed in shorts and flip-flops here.
The Verdict: Unlike the Culver City location, the Santa Monica restaurant offers a wide selection of deals on actual meals instead of mere morsels. Take your pick of the three pizzas, four sandwiches and the various seafood dishes, all under $10. The $6 turkey burger is a surprising two-hander with a thick and juicy patty, baby arugula, white cheddar and soft bun. The only complaint would be that the bun can't withstand the burger's juices, leaving you to continue on with knife and fork and a napkin at the ready. The $5 salmon panini (yes, we know, panino: tell the restaurant) is not an appetizer of tiny crostini topped with pieces of lox but a real panino with a side salad. You can throw in some sea salted frites to fully satisfy that after-work appetite.
Although the food selection will thrill cheapskates, the drink deals will only make them shrug: they are priced from $5 to $6 and offer one beer on tap, well drinks and three types of wine. You might be tempted to transition over to the regular bar menu with its tasty-sounding, $10-plus drinks, although that would completely defeat your efforts to be frugal.
The happy hour at the beachside Fraîche may have average drink deals, but its food choices really bring up its letter grade. How often can you find a restaurant quality burger for only $6?