People don't go to bars the way they once did.
Not the regular type of bars anyway, the kind that smell of stale beer, have jukeboxes and well-worn pool tables.
These days restaurant bars are the place to schmooze, especially bars in hip restaurants.
The Waves Are Nearby
Rebecca's in Venice is the chic hangout du jour, the nuevo Mexican restaurant across from the West Beach Cafe (they share the same owners) and a few steps from the ocean.
This is where the yup-and-comers quaff their Coronas and lime, loosening those Armani ties after a tough day at the office.
Rebecca's is built like an adult fun house, courtesy of architect Frank Gehry who decorated the restaurant with an octopus and two crocodiles that dangle from the ceiling, a copper gazebo, telephone pole "trees," a quilted metal door and panels of apricot-colored marble illuminated from behind. It's one generation removed from the Hard Rock Cafe, with the same high noise level and eclectic design.
Quite a Crowd
Nine o'clock is when the weekend bar action starts; at 10 they're standing five-deep and shouting to be heard above the piped-in music. Rebecca's attracts 20- to 30-year-olds with valid American Express cards, a mix of young corporate types in blue blazers, men in long coats and ponytails, women with kohl-black eyes and chi-chi little hats. If the bartenders are right, they come to see--and be seen.
"This is the blossoming of the sexual revolution," said Morgan the friendly bartender when asked for his opinion on Rebecca's bar scene. "Hey baby, what's your name?" he says, mocking the swaggering males who stalk the bar every night. "But it used to be that only men picked up women. Here, women are like sharks . They grab 'em."
Morgan and his compatriots are witness to the predatory ways of singles every night as they serve up beer, margaritas and exotic pastel-colored drinks. But not everyone here has come to sound the mating call; Paul Helms and a friend had come to take in the architecture. "This is Frank Gehry's best," he declared. "I'm a lighting designer, and I like to look at the things he's done. He's done a lot with lighting and special materials, like marble. The atmosphere here? It's very Venice. Gehry's work, I think, helps define the community."
Audrey Brik, Lars Viklund and Carl Jones were in it for the people-watching. "There are very interesting-looking people here," Brik said, gazing around.
Food and Appetizers
To give Rebecca's its due, some also come for the food. Any menu item is available at the bar; popular dishes include appetizers like chilaquiles ($5) and duck rellenos with ranchera sauce and Mexican sour cream ($6). Entrees include New York steak fajitas for about $20. If you're waiting for a table (and if you come without reservations on a weekend, you will have to wait) a drink and an appetizer at the bar is not a bad idea. Food is served until 1 a.m. on weekends, and the restaurant stays open until 2.
Corona by the bottle is $3; regular margaritas are $4.50, and fresh fruit margaritas and daiquiris are more, depending on the flavor. The juices (watermelon, pineapple, mango) sit in big pitchers nestled in crushed ice and surrounded by whole fresh fruit, making it look like a mini-tropical paradise.
Many of Rebecca's patrons are serious about the place. Squealed one young woman, "I've never been to a place in L.A. with so much action !"
Rebecca's, corner Venice Boulevard and Pacific Avenue in Venice, (213) 306-6266.