Much of the food of Eastern Europe is, to put it plainly, peasant food. But that, I assure you, is not an insult. Slow-cooked meats, heavy starches and earthy vegetables all go great together but go even better with beer and liquor. But if you feel odd eating European working-class food in Santa Monica, where higher rent means higher food prices, look no farther than happy hour at Warszawa. The restaurant, which specializes in Polish cuisine, has been around since the late '70s. The interior is upscale: You might order items like beef tartare with a glass of wine. But Wednesday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., the relaxed and spacious back patio offers inexpensive drinks and appetizers. There, you can eat down-home foods like pierogi (the Polish equivalent of ravioli, filled with mushrooms, cabbage or potatoes) and brightly colored borscht, paired with drinks like Bison Grass Vodka (a smooth, herb-flavored liquor known to warm you up rather quickly) or big bottles of refreshing Polish beers. All in all, it's a great opportunity to drink and eat like a peasant without the inconvenient trappings of a serflike existence. 1414 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-8831,

—Noah Galuten

LA Weekly