By Dr. Ink
Nestled within the landmark Lafayette Hotel, just beyond the posh lobby, is Hope 46, a vintage restaurant and bar named after the hotel’s first registered guest and the year he checked in. The visitor was comedian Bob Hope. The year was 1946.
Since its renovation a few years ago, the property has been largely restored to reflect the glory days of when Hollywood actors and producers made pit stops at the Lafayette on their way to shoot films in Mexico.
Hope 46, situated just off the hotel’s sunny conservatory, captures the era with a central marble-top bar and memorabilia featuring old photographs and vintage vinyl records displayed on the walls.
The restaurant used to be called Imig’s, named after the property’s original developer, Larry Imig. An outdoor patio overlooks the hotel’s central swimming pool, which our bartender said was designed by Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer turned actor who played Tarzan in the old movies.
Hanging out in this vintage setting during happy hour offers a refreshing change of vibe from the dive-bar and modern cocktail-lounge scenes. The patronage is diverse, often a mix of under-40 hotel guests and locals who have descended on the property for swimming pool parties, fashion shows, holiday bashes and LGBT events.
Happy hour, however, is a mellower affair, when well drinks and local craft beers are $4, and specialty cocktails dip down to $8.
The drafts of the day are listed on a few chalk boards throughout the restaurant. From about eight choices, my drinking companion found exactly what he wanted; a dark oatmeal stout with robust coffee notes in the form of Black House Nitro by Modern Times.
I ordered a classic Tom Collins, served with a history lesson about the hotel by the knowledgeable bartender. But something was amiss when she began pouring the New Amsterdam Gin into the tall glass. A mysterious fleck in the ice perhaps? Or a crack in the glass? We weren’t sure, but she ended up dumping it and starting over with a new glass that embodied the classic, lemon-infused cocktail dating back in mixology records to the late-1800s.
Our discounted nibble of choice was bruschetta ($6) made with very sweet tomatoes and served warm with crostini. Other noshes include Caesar salad, calamari, olives and nuts, and a trio of veal, turkey and sausage meatballs, which would have prompted us to stay longer and drink more had we not planned beforehand on leaving this charming time capsule for dinner elsewhere.