Empanadas

Outside OC Outskirts Happy Hour: Palapa

I feel like it has been a while since I wrote my last post. Life has been pretty busy for me recently with trips to Denver and Maui along with spending time with my new girlfriend. Luckily there is always still time to sneak in a quick Happy Hour once in a while. However, I’m switching things up because this Happy Hour is just right outside the outskirts of Orange County. This one is right in LA County but only a minute outside of OC.

Entrance

My dad was itching to check out 2nd and PCH in Long Beach which is the same concept as Pacific City in Huntington Beach. You may remember my Bear Flag Happy Hour Adventure over at Pacific City where I got a beautiful view of the beach and the setting sun. Although this Happy Hour is not about seafood, it’s about Mexican cuisine.

The Bar

Palapa is the sister bar to Ola Mexican Cuisine which is a restaurant found at both 2nd and PCH as well as at Pacific City. I’m surprised that I did an Adventure at Palapa before Ola because Ola at Pacific City is a lot closer than Palapa. 

One thing I love about Palapa is the fact that it is an open-air bar. There is only one major wall that backs up against the bar while the other three are non-existent with the doors wide open. This allows one to feel the ocean breeze that comes through from the Pacific. Luckily if you want to be completely exposed to the outdoors then you can take it one step further by walking straight onto the patio.

Menu

I won’t lie this is one of the priciest Happy Hour Adventures that I have gone to. All the cocktails are $12 which isn’t one of the best deals. However, the good thing about all of these cocktails is the fact that they are some creative craft cocktails. The appetizers are more reasonably priced but that’s only for your more traditional and simple items. I know you aren’t interested in just seeing guacamole and dips so I picked some more interesting items to dine on.

Lavender Yuzu Martini

This first drink is the libation my dad ordered and in my dad’s typical fashion he ordered it on the rocks with a sugar rim. This was the Lavender Yuzu Martini which would have been served in a martini glass. I was able to take a little sip to see how this concoction was.

This was a vodka-based drink that allowed the other ingredients to shine through. The yuzu brought on some citrus notes that were perkier than one would get from plain limes. Then for the floral notes, the lavender was able to bring on some subtle tastes.

Spanish Mai Tai

I’ve had my fair share of Mai Tais in the past but I’d have to say this is my very first Spanish Mai Tai. Everything in this drink leads to you thinking it is a Mai Tai with its rum, lime, orange, and pineapple juice. Then you have two ingredients that come into the mix that caught my curiosity, Licor 43 and dark cherry shrub. The Licor 43 is what converts this Mai Tai to a Spanish variation. This is because Licor 43 is a Spanish liquor that is made of 43 ingredients such as citrus, fruit juices, vanilla, aromatic herbs, along with various other ingredients. The dark cherry shrub brought on the dark red color you see at the bottom of the drink.

I thought the presentation of this drink was unique given that it was served in a martini glass with a giant ice square floating in it. I feel one does not tend to see ice in a martini glass. The taste of the drink was one of tropical nature with various juices and rum. However, I felt I could not spot the taste of the Licor 43, although this was my first experience with the liqueur. The dark cherry shrub added a nice fruity complexity to the overall drinking experience.

Peach Smash

For my second drink, I decided I would try the Peach Smash cocktail. This libation used Kettle One Botanicals Vodka, which I have tried different flavors from this collection before. This drink had the peach and orange blossoms vodka to bring on those peach flavors one would expect to taste in a Peach Smash cocktail. Although it was the peach puree that brought on the true natural peach flavor. The agave and lemon juice helped to accentuate these flavors while the soda water kept things neutral.

Overall this is an ideal summer drink because of the heavy use of peach flavors throughout the cocktail. Imagine sticking a straw in a nice juicy peach and taking a sip straight from the fruit. That is the experience one can expect with the Peach Smash drink.

Poke Nachos

The first dish we started with was the Poke Nachos. So this Adventure isn’t completely void of a seafood dish. This dish would get me dreaming of my upcoming Maui trip imagining all the delicious poke and fish dishes I would be indulging on. The first thing I spot is the same chips that they use at Ola which are some of my favorite tortilla chips that I’ve had at a restaurant. For me, it is the fact that they always seem fresh along with the tasty spices they toss the chips in to add additional flavor.

The seafood component utilized both yellowtail tuna along a rockfish ceviche to bring on a true seafood medley. The use of the wasabi cream brought some good creamy spiciness for each bite you took. The ginger soy helped to bring bright pops of that wonderful ginger flavor which pairs well with seafood. Then for some additional tropical flavor, a pineapple pico de gallo was utilized which paired well with my Spanish Mai Tai.

Short Rib Empanadas

The final dish that piqued my interest was of course the short rib empanadas. The presentation of this dish was absolutely beautiful. The use of the bright orange romesco sauce brought on a warm feeling and the carrots helped extend that color profile off the plate. The bright green microgreens scattered across the plate created a nice natural greenery presentation. The green salsa on the tip of each empanada allowed the bright green to flow even more.

The taste of this dish complemented the presentation of the food. The empanada’s exterior was crisp and well seasoned. The short rib is where the party truly starts. The meat was tender and packed with juicy flavor. The green sauce created an herby profile while the romesco sauce allowed for a subtle tomato and spice flavor. The microgreens allowed someone to get some greens without feeling too guilty about dining on short rib empanadas.

Sunset

Overall this was a great Happy Hour Adventure. Just like I did at Pacific City, I had to take a photo of the setting sun. Although there were a lot more parked cars and docked boats than compared to Huntington Beach. 

I hope you enjoyed this Adventure as it has been a while since I last did one. I hope to be more consistent in the future but remember if you are looking for more food and drink photos you can always find me on Instagram @OCHappyHourAdventures.

Website: Palapa

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Since this Adventure was finished off with a sunset, I wanted to ask this question. Where is your favorite place to dine and watch the sunset?

Let me know down below in the comments and share with friends who would enjoy this Happy Hour.

May the adventures continue! Cheers!

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