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La Valencia Hotel, Whaling Bar
1132 Prospect, La Jolla

Dark woods, red carpets on black-marble floors, women in long dresses, men in silk suits, red-studded booths, brass table lamps with black shades. Apart from anything else, you're in the company of ghosts like Raymond Chandler, who held up this bar for hours on end till it held him up. Can you blame him? The expat Englishman spent his literary life exposing the sweaty, shadowy, gritty realities of the Los Angeles unterwelt. Then there's Gregory Peck, Mel Ferrer, Dr. Seuss, Art Buchwald -- all passed through. Come on Thursdays, though. That's when you get $6 martinis and free mini-Châteaubriands on a bun. Happy hour, 4:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays.

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