Reviewed by Jeff Walker

**My Bar Standard**

Visited: Friday, March 28th, 2008 (and at least a dozen or so other Fridays and Saturdays within past year)

Location: 3110 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90025 (map)(Link)
Phone: 310-828-4567

2 Other Locations: Hollywood (our review) and El Toro (website)

Busby’s (My Bar Standard) offers a little of everything (dancing, drinking, games) in a friendly environment that is perfect for anyone in search of fun.

Deeper Insights:

Take a few of the things that make going out fun – music, dancing, games, strong drinks, cheap cover, short lines, attractive crowd – and put them into a large, rustic space separated into smaller, comfortable areas, and you have Busby’s West. It may not be perfect for the raver or club-hopper, but Busby’s offers a little something for everyone else, making it ideal for groups who look for a variety of things to do in their nightspots.

Simply put, it’s tough to not have a good time here. The crowd is almost always out-going and friendly, and even if you’re not feeling it or not having much luck with the ladies, head to the back rooms and play some games. Foosball, Pop-a-Shot basketball, two pool tables, and often times even a ping-pong table create a lively atmosphere (even the girls get in on the action) that is unique to most nightspots, especially one that features dancing.

On that note, if one thing could be changed, it would be the small dance floor that tightly hugs the DJ booth. Once it gets going (just two to three dozen people fill it up), there is little room to shake your thang and it can be tough to find space. However, because the dance floor is so small and the aisle runs alongside the dance floor, girls will find fewer creepers lingering nearby.

Busby’s has a unique identity that is comfortable and welcoming. The place itself has unusual touches, like a fireplace and a private bathroom partially hidden up the back stairs. The personality extends to the bartenders as well, who are all really cool and seem to care about more than just a tip. You’ll feel like fast friends and want to come back to this place where everyone really can know your name.

A quick story – A few weeks ago, some friends and I were trying to go to a club in Santa Monica. After waiting in line for an hour (and refusing to pay the promoter $30 for instant entry), we attempted to salvage our night by heading elsewhere. It was already midnight, and The Parlor had a mass of people out front, The Room was likely full, and other places were dicey at best. So, we headed to ol’ reliable – Busby’s – even though we had been there the previous night. We paid our $5 cover, didn’t wait in line, got our drinks immediately, played some Pop-a-Shot, had good conversation, danced for awhile, and basically made the most of our limited time prior to last call. Our plans changed, but Busby’s still gave us the fun Saturday night we were seeking without some of the crap that comes with other places.

Breakdown:

Attire: After 10 p.m., hats, jerseys, open shoes, and loose clothing are not allowed. Go with collared shirts, nice T-shirts, jeans, and slacks. Ladies just need to look cute.

Attitude:
Laid-back comfort bar that gives you a fun time through dancing, drinking, games, or meeting cool people.

Bar/Bartenders: 2 bars – 1 in the front (right of the entrance), the other in the back. Front bar has 3 bartenders (normally guys), while the back has 2 (usually girls). Wait on drinks can be as short as a couple minutes or as long as 15 at peak times. There also are several servers in each bar area if you don’t want to fight your way to the actual bar.
Tip: The bartenders are really friendly and it is worth it to get to know them. Joel and Brad are the best. And if you’re an Ohio St. fan, make sure you mention it to Brad.

Bathrooms: Main bathrooms are left of the entrance. Men’s room has two urinals and one stall with a lock. There is also a single bathroom if you head to the back bar and go up the stairs. This bathroom has its own toilet, sink, and even a shower! Warning: This bathroom closes at 12:45 a.m.

Tip:
Had Chipotle and looking for privacy that rivals your bathroom at home? Spend all your money on games and have no singles to tip the bathroom attendant? Head to the “secret” back bathroom. You may have to wait a few minutes, but you get your own bathroom and avoid the awkwardness of stiffing the bathroom attendant.

Bathroom Attendant: Yes.

Bottle Service: You can reserve tables and probably arrange for bottle service, but it’s unnecessary. There is also a lounge with couches up the stairs near the back bathroom, but it is away from everything else and may be too quiet and kick-back.

Cover: $5 after 10 p.m.

Crowd:
Fun, friendly, and attractive Westsiders ranging from twenty-somethings still in college to those in their thirties looking to settle down or let loose for a night. Usually about a 55/45 guy-to-girl ratio.

Dance Floor: Small one that fills up and gets pretty crowded. Girls can dance on a small elevated area if they desire.

D├ęcor: Busby’s has several different rooms that have a classic, almost Victorian feel that is offset by numerous flat-screen TVs. Dark woods and reds with matching leather booths adorn the front bar, classic lamps with shades provide soft light, while rustic wallpaper and exposed brick make it feel like an antique-filled home.

Drinks: $5 for draft beer (9 beers on tap), $6 for well drinks, $9 for Red Bull-infused drinks. Mixed drinks are usually quite strong.

Extras: Two pool tables, trivia machine at the front bar, ping-pong, game room – Golden Tee, Skee Ball, Pac-Man, foosball, pinball, Pop-a-Shot, and more.
Sunday nights – Rock Band
Monday nights – karaoke

Food: Full menu available with most entrees ranging from $10-20 (burgers, sandwiches, pastas, chicken, steak). Bar menu is also available and includes Chicken Tenders ($8), Nachos Grande with steak or chicken ($10), and the Heart-Clogger Combo (wings, tenders, mozzarella, calamari, and fries for $12).

Hours: Weeknights: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Weekends: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. It should be noted that last call is around 1:20 and they attempt to have everyone cleared out by 1:45 a.m.

Line: Go before 10 p.m. and avoid both the line and the cover. I have only seen an extensive line once (about 15 people) and we were in within 20 minutes. If you go from 10:30 to 11 p.m, you’ll increase your odds of encountering a line.

Music: The usual, with bits of experimentation here and there – hip-hop with brief stretches of popular Old School, rock and techno.

Parking: Valet parking is available, but you can always find street parking on Santa Monica or on side streets.

Patio: Yes.

People Watching: Good-looking crowd of both men and women that tend to be friendly and open to openers.

Seating: Bar stools, booths, and tables throughout, with plush couches in the back room. There isn’t a multitude of seating, but if you want to sit, you can usually find a spot.

Smoking: On the patio.

Water (Free): You can get free ice water, but you may have to first decline offers of bottled Voss water.
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