If you live in Santa Monica and enjoy the nightlife, it is likely that you've heard of Renee's Courtyard Café located on Wilshire Boulevard and 6th Street. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Renee's has long been slinging cocktails and serving up food for the community.
Renee's is an eclectic, artistic café that attracts a similar crowd. It's dimly lit yet brightly colored courtyard offers a European feel. It has three bars and four different rooms, one of which includes Renee's famous doll collection.
"Those two knights right there protect you," said Renee Forrest, pointing at a statue.
Forrest, originally from New York, moved to Los Angeles because of the weather and opened up the bar and restaurant when she won a liquor license in a lottery. It started off as a small French café and has grown it into a popular beach nightspot.
Renee's has a fun and youthful vibe. The drinks are well-made and the food is tasty. Their house specialty drink is a delicious concoction of orange, Cranberry Red Bull and vodka. Served in a tall glass, Renee's house drink is sure to get anyone warmed up for a night of fun and is definitely considered the type of drink grandma would refer to as a "highball!"
The menu is diverse, offering everything from salmon quesadillas to burgers and meatloaf. They also have a wide selection of appetizers and happy hour specials that run nightly from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
They have great daily specials and everything is priced relatively well. Five dollars for domestic beer, $7 for well Jack and Coke, while cosmos and lemon drops are $10. On Tuesdays they are known for their late night happy hour, offering two for the price of one from 10:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
An easy listening live rock band known as "Mini Bar" performs in the courtyard Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m., making it a perfect date spot as singer and songwriter Simon Petty serenades.
"Lots of couples have met here and gotten married," said Forrest. "I've witnessed a proposal in the main dining room."
The crowd on Sunday evening is mellower than other nights, making it easy to find a seat or table. The vibe is quaint, making it delightful to be conversant with a friend or two.
You can spot small clusters of groups or couples enjoying the live music on the patio on these more soothing evenings.
On any night, the lively and artsy environment gives off a fun, colorful energy reminiscent of New Orleans. And unlike the SMC campus, the place is known for being favorable to cigarette smokers because of the open-air courtyard.
Walking around the bar and viewing the art décor is entertaining by itself. Antiques, fountains, dolls and murals can all be found. One eye-catching piece located in the courtyard is a vintage mural of women on the beach in the 1950's, exemplifying the differences in styles between then and now.
Random and puzzling nooks and crannies surround the place. You can also find classic movies playing on a large projector screen at the front bar.
If you're looking for love, fun, a strong drink, a bite to eat or just a place to examine art, Renee's is a unique spot that is fun and definitely a place to check out that's not too far from the beach!