25 Great Happy Hours
It’s cocktail season, and we’re celebrating with a guide to cheap(er) imbibing.
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Street tacos at La Puerta
Late Night + All Night
The spot: Ocean Bar at Pacifica Del Mar
The hood: Del Mar
The deal: Dollar-off drinks and discounted food, nightly 4-6:30 p.m. and all night Mon.-Tues.
Why we love it: Ever tried Irish vodka? How about a vodka from China? This is one of the only spots that offers a selection of some 150 vodkas from around the world. Every Wednesday you can get any vodka (or gin) for $6 all night.
The spot: 98 Bottles
The hood: Little Italy
The deal: Tues.-Sat. 4-7 p.m., Wednesdays all night, $7 sake samplers, $1 off craft drafts, discounted bites
Why we love it: Because there’s more than just booze on any given night—horror movies on Wednesdays, live jazz on Fridays, and tap dance lessons (after a beer, of course) on Tuesdays. Finally some funk in this town!
The spot: Zenbu
The hood: Cardiff
The deal: $4 sake, $6 wine, Sapporo, and cocktails, $5 bites, Sun.-Mon. all night, Tues. & Thurs. 5-7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 p.m.-close.
Why we love it: They don’t call it “Spend-bu” for nothing, but happy hour prices are an affordable-ish way to indulge in some of the best sushi in town. Try the seaweed salad and the Lily Alexandra hand roll, each just $5.
The spot: La Puerta
The hood: Gaslamp
The deal: Rotating nightly specials, 10 p.m.-close (plus daily happy hour 3-7 p.m.)
Why we love it: You can’t argue with half-off drinks and apps on Mondays and $2 taco Tuesdays, with TJ dogs, street tacos, and Tecates for just $2 apiece. There’s also $3 frozen drinks on Thursdays and half-off the whole bar Sundays after 10.
The spot: Analog
The hood: Gaslamp
The deal: Rotating specials, Tues.-Thurs. 4 p.m.-close
Why we love it: The menu’s crude, but the deals are good: Totchos (tater tot nachos) are half-off on Tuesdays, when PBRs are just $2.22; Wednesday brings $2 sliders and half-off specialty drinks; and Thursdays are dirty, with dirty martinis and Dirty Sanchezes (a fancy grilled cheese with jalapeño and bacon) on special for $4 each.
The spot: Crush
The hood: Solana Beach
The deal: $3 drafts, $5 house wines and wells, $7 specialty cocktails, Thurs.-Sat. 10 p.m.-midnight (plus daily 4:30-6:30 p.m.)
Why we love it: Because North County needs more nightlife, and this new kid on the Solana Beach block, in the old Pacific Coast Grill spot, offers live jazz and flamenco guitar music plus a jasmine martini and mini portions of popular apps like Mom’s Meatballs.
Patios: Imbibe Outside
The spot: Veranda at Rancho Bernardo Inn
The hood: Rancho Bernardo
The deal: $5 margaritas and three-for-$8 tacos on Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m.
Why we love it: The Tuscan-style fireside patio with peaceful vistas over the golf course is just the kind of place we like to lounge and nosh with neighbors after work.
The spot: Wine Steals
The hood: Locations in East Village, Cardiff, Point Loma, and Hillcrest
The deal: $4 wines, Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.; $2 pizza slices Mon-Thurs.
Why we love it: Because the wine selection is plentiful and the staff isn’t wine-snobby. The Cardiff location is close to our hearts for its especially neighborhoody feel—you park your car in a ditch and sit near a main road. But the ocean breezes are sublime and the people are good-looking (even if they do wear sunglasses and you can’t make eye contact).
The spot: Counterpoint
The hood: Golden Hill
The deal: $3 drafts and wines, Tues.-Fri. 5-6 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. noon-6 p.m.
Why we love it: The recently opened patio may be teensy, but it’s one of the only places to drink alfresco in Golden Hill. Plus, the miniature schoolhouse chairs are pretty adorable (as is the bar staff).
The spot: Brigantine Del Mar
The hood: Del Mar
The deal: Discounted apps, $5 chardonnay, $4 beers, Tues.-Sun. 4-6 p.m. and all night Monday. Happy hour returns every night, one hour before closing.
Why we love it: If you haven’t been to the Brig since you got straight A's on your report card, it’s time to revisit. And sit on the back porch overlooking the racetrack. We’re all about the $2.75 fish tacos and $1.75 oyster shooters, plus the warm vibe, which comes courtesy of a crowd of friendly regulars.