Drunk After Work: Morton's The Steakhouse

The Place: Morton's The Steakhouse, locations in Santa Ana and Anaheim.

The Hours: Mon.-Fri., 4:30-6:30 p.m. & 9 p.m. to close. Santa Ana also has the same hours on Sunday.

The Deal: $5 beers; $6.50 wines; $7.50 Mortinis and cocktails. Bar bites ranging from $6 to $7. Anaheim lists bar bite deals only.
Cheese, please!

The Scene: While I've been to both, the flagship location is across the street from South Coast Plaza, along the Santa Ana/Costa Mesa border. Power suits, high heels and corporate cards are the norm. Off to the side in its own room, the lighting is speakeasy-dim. It sets the mood for loosening one's tie or leaning in for a clandestine rendezvous. The laughter is a little haughtier, looks linger longer, and the liquor is stronger. On the flip side, Anaheim was made for the Convention Center. It named the space BAR 12-21, after the opening date of the chain's first Chicago location. Business-casual attendees and tourists near the Mouse cohabit with North County locals avoiding hotel and sports bars.  

The Sauce: No one tries to impress with obscure brands. It's the big-name beers, strong varietals and classic cocktails at this "Power Hour." Throw down a Lincoln, and you've got your pick among Seasonal Sam Adams, Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken and Heineken Light. Cavit Pinot Grigio is the lone Italian in a sea of West Coast vineyards that include a BV Cab and Columbia Crest Merlot. For $7.50, a "Mortini" can be mixed with gin or vodka. There's a Carrie Bradshaw-approved cosmo and a mojito that, thankfully, doesn't include specialty (i.e., fruity syrup) options. Jim Beam Manhattan is on hand for those who crave bourbon.

The Food: No nacho sauce in this establishment. We're talking blue cheese, like in the iceberg-wedge bites, covered in chopped tomato, egg and bacon bits. Thick-cut steak fries get uppity with red-pepper flakes and chives mixed into melted blue. Chicken fingers Goujonettes are neatly served with a mustard-mayonnaise sauce. For a little more cash, a duo of seafood options include mini-crab-cake BLTs and smoked-salmon pizza. Carnivorous cravings demand an order of mini-cheeseburgers and petite filet-mignon sandwiches.   

The Verdict: Even though this isn't the dining room, service here is still top-notch. Seating is at a premium, though, so be prepared to stand around. The bar bites are a little gluttonous, but nobody dines at Morton's for dietary reasons. If flip-flops are your preferred happy-hour footwear, head to Yard House.

The Grade: B+

Morton's The Steakhouse is located at 1641 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 444-4834; and 1895 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 621-0101; www.mortons.com.

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Mario Andreessen
Mario Andreessen

Thank goodness they have valet parking! After all that booze, it might be dangerous to get your own car.

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