Drunk After Work: Don the Beachcomber
The Place: Don the Beachcomber, 16278 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; (562) 592-1321.
The Hours: 4-7 p.m. daily (including weekends); all day Monday.
The Deal: Half-price drinks and appetizers.
The Scene: If you walk in the main door at happy hour time, you'll notice that the crowd in the main dining room at 5 p.m. is comprised almost solely of geriatric refugees from nearby Leisure World Rossmoor, but inside the Dagger Bar, on your left as you walk in, it's a mixed crowd. Families, couples, twenty-somethings, seniors, surfers, suits: everyone drinks at Don the B. There's a cabinet full of tiki mugs, daggers on the wall (Donn Beach was a huge collector of Polynesian daggers) and more tiki kitsch than ten Trader Vic's could ever have packed in.
The Sauce: Sure, you can get a normal drink here, but drinking Jack and Coke or a martini underneath pufferfish lights and tiki heads seems incongruous. Go with the flow here and buy a round of sweet quasi-Polynesian drinks with fruit salads sticking out of the top. If Mai Tais and Scorpions leave you cold, at least go for something like a Midori Sour. Beers are predictably heavy on the Kona Brewing, but the rum list is straight out of the Caribbean, with some choices from Haiti and Guyana that wouldn't be out of place in the back room at LA's La Descarga. Drinks are large, especially for the price.
The Eats: Yes, they're called "pupus". We'll wait while you get your puerile snickering over with. Kalua pig (no H in that, not when it's pork) sliders are the best option, though the pork makes a reappearance on Hawaiian nachos (fried wonton skins with sweet-and-sour sauce and cheese). Spam roll, like a futomaki version of Spam musubi, suffered from the problem of needing wasabi but being much too salty with soy sauce. Sticky ribs were satisfying and, of course, sticky, and one table near us swore by the brie quesadilla; maybe another time.
The Verdict: Do it right. Pull out the embarrassing aloha wear you bought at Hilo Hattie's while jet-lagged, slip on some sandals (but please, leave the black socks at home), head up PCH and wrap yourself around a couple of high-octane fruit-and-rum concoctions. This has to rank amongst the top happy hour deals in OC; you could easily make a dinner out of appetizers. Worth the trip just for the tiki kitsch factor.
The Grade: A.