The moment I heard that SLS in Beverly Hills was staring a "happy hour," I moved it up to number 1 position in my happy hour queue. I place the words happy hour in quotation marks is because The Bazaar at the SLS isn't calling it happy hour, they are calling it Tapas on the Terrace. But if you look at their online menu, it's obvious that the limited 2 hour window of cocktail and bites are less expensive than their regular bar menu. Sundays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., you can enjoy $8 select signature dishes and cocktails, red or white wine and cava. Bottomless sangria is $12 and you also will get a $8 preferred parking rate for $8 prior to 7 p.m.Great chefs including Michael Voltaggio and Marcel Vigneron even got the culinary careers started at The Bazaar by José Andrés. Let's just say this place has a reputation for some spectacular cuisine, which is why I was on a mission to get my hands on their new tapas menu.
I started my happy hour quest on The Bazaar website, where you will find a Tapas and Terrace icon that links you to its menu. That page gives you a reserve now button that then takes you to OpenTable to make a reservation. I'm mentioning all of this because it will help you avoid what happened to me when I showed up for my reservation. I invited my friend The Food Pervert (aka Tara Redfield) the other day to accompany me to the SLS. We showed up 15 minutes earlier to walk around and take all of the elegance in. We checked in with the hostess for our 6 p.m. reservation for Tapas on the Terrace and we told that is was "first come, first serve" and unfortunately, the patio was full. I explained that the website directed me to make a reservation and never mentioned it was available to whomever arrived first. Yes, the website also says no reservations required but it also directs you to make one - just a a little confusing.
Moments later, the manager arrived and apologized for the confusion. He directed us to the bar while he offered the option of waiting until a table opened up. We looked at the bar menu and noticed that the drink prices were practically double the Tapas on the Terrace prices; not that I was surprised - this was The Bazaar, after all. Luckily we didn't wait long and were able to secure a two-top table outside. The terrace was in fact, full. Obviously word was out about this low-key happy hour!
Our server reminded me of a very young Casey Affleck. He quickly went over our menu options and suggested a few things. I asked him about the Jasmine Margarita (Casamigos tequila, pomegranate, sal de gusano). He smiled and asked if I'd ever had sal de gusano. Nope. "It's crushed up worms with salt that they use for the rim," he explained. My gut reaction wasn't great, but suddenly I felt like the Andrew Zimmern of cocktails - I'll take one! Tara got the dealers choice, which was a strawberry infused aged rum, I believe? Things got a little blurry after our server dropped the drinks because Tara realized she didn't have her phone! Basically, a food bloggers nightmare…
While she used my phone to track down her Lyft driver, we quickly consulted each other on a few dishes and ordered the Oxtail Buns (with watermelon radish, cilantro, steamed buns), Sweet Potato Chips (with yogurt, tamarrind, star anise) and Pa'amb Tomaquet (Catalan style toasted bread, Manchego, tomato).
The Oxtail Buns came in two (kiddie size) in a bamboo basket and just looked absolutely adorable. The steamed buns were so soft and delicate and the meat was moist and flavorful. The bread in the Pa'amb Tomaquet was imported from Spain; served crusty with plenty of grooves to nest the tomato-like jam spread on top. Garnished with sliced Manchego, it resembled a rustic pizza (#NextLevel as one of my Instagram friends described). Lastly the Sweet Potato Chips arrived with a beautiful yogurt dip. The chips were light and lanky and texture of the dip was cloud-like; whipped, fluffy and laced with some tang and spice.
After we finished our meal, I tried calling the missing phone and Lyft the driver picked up! He drove the phone back to the SLS and Tara was very grateful. Our Tapas on the Terrace at the SLS Bazaar were pretty terrific. It was a #NextLevel happy hour, indeed. I will definitely be back to order the $12 bottomless mimosas and Jicama wrapped Guacamole. Just remember, if you are headed there too, then get there a little earlier to secure a seat!
Los Angeles, California 90048