Awhile back, DTLA happy hours were covered on this site. After the final entry in July (covering Chaya and Magnola), drought seemed to hit the DTLA happy hour scene. While Corkbar and Bottlerock both featured early evening happy hours, the food coming out of their respective kitchen seemed uninspired at best. As recently as July, sour reports of Drago Centro’s Happy Hour continued to pour. Apparently after 5 months of Happy Hour driven by $8 pizzas and an empty bar, Drago decided it was time for a revamp.
As soon as Mar Yvette, Citysearch LA’s girl about town, tweeted the new Drago Happy Hour, we were off to the races. $5 cocktails all evening, beautiful long marble bar (see below), free valet? Sign me the hell up. I don’t even work in DTLA (just crush a lot).
Seeing this is a coverage of Happy Hour profferings, the cocktail selection deserves first billing. $5 brings 4 LA-chic cocktail choices. Asian, American, and Mexican flavor demands are all covered by this list of the least common denominators. “l’erba blu” seemed most exciting for the palate and was a huge hit. Bourbon, even if it’s not top shelf, apparently pairs extremely well with fresh grapefruit. One can only imagine the citrusy fragrance explosion if pomelo peels were used instead. Is it ok to bring your own bitters to a posh Downtown LA happy hour? In addition to the cocktails, 4 Italian wines are also available, none exceeding $6.
While Chaya Downtown’s drink list seems just as tasty as Drago’s, Drago’s food was clearly a cut above. We started off with the weakest of the bunch, a flattened caprese salad curled into a log ala Philadelphia roll, and sliced into half inch makis. Pretty as a picture, but texturally indistinguishable as a mozzarella, speck, and arugula caprese. The pizette/flatbread which came next smelled great, had perfectly cooked shrimp, just a touch of mozzarella and was mostly unmolested by sweet tomato sauce. The crunch is akin to those of Shakey’s pizzas. Don’t think of it as a pizza and it’ll be easier to smile after each bite.
Finally, the duo of kobe sliders. Serious Eats previously announced the stupidest use of wagyu on the planet was in the shape of a burger patty. Sliders aren’t burgers, right? It’s easy to muck sliders up due to pure physics; too little meat, too much heat. With the help extra fat cells in Drago’s kobe sliders, these 2 little roundels of brioche turned out doubly nice compared to the Akasha disasters. The 2 mini burgers, topped with floral fontina that didn’t overwhelm/oversalt the beef, also contained bits of mushrooms. They were beyond pleasant.
Still don’t believe this is the best Downtown LA “happy hour” menu? Would you rather eat a $2 burger only fit for dogs?