Your Guide to San Diego's Best Happy Hours
Here's where to throw back a cold one while the sun's still out
This city was made for happy hour. Between the enviable climate, craft beer and cocktails, charming patios, and breezy rooftops, there’s no shortage of places where we can throw back a cold one while the sun’s still out. We’ve rounded up 154 staff- and expert-approved happy hours, and there’s something for everyone. We have ocean views, foodie-focused eateries, and trendy hot spots, plus cozy bars perfect for date night. And when it’s not just a party of two, go ahead and bring the kids and dogs along. Cheers!
The restaurant merges a classic steakhouse menu with a modern design, but during happy hour, served on the patio and at the bar, it’s all about the raw selection. The pre-dinner menu includes Jonah crab claws (more tender and sweet than Dungeness), $1.25 oysters, and $6 oyster shooters served with a citrus vodka, bloody mary, and horseradish. Wash it down with $5 craft beers, $6 wines, and $8 martinis. Or go fancy with a glass of Veuve, which is $15 during happy hour.
Daily 4–6:30 p.m.
1309 Orange Avenue
Imperial Beach is poised for a lot of change—with The Shipping Yard complex coming in and a collaboration project between Mike Hess Brewing and City Tacos on the way—but one pioneer of new and modern in the area is Sea180°, the oceanfront eatery that’s part of Pier South Resort. Happy hour beverages range from $6 beers, including a Stone Brewing Co. IPA, to $6 sangria, margaritas, and wines by the glass. Food is mostly shareable, with garlic herb fries and an $8 Tijuana-style hot dog topped with house-made kimchi.
Daily 2:30–5 p.m.
800 Seacoast Drive
Gaslamp Quarter + University Heights
Choose your own adventure—the intimate, low-key University Heights location or the lively bilevel Gaslamp spot. The former doles out half-off sangria pitchers and mimosa flutes, plus $5 tapas and 21 percent off their new organic cocktails. Tapas are a dollar more in the Gaslamp, but otherwise they have the same deals, as well as beer and wine specials.
Daily 3–6 p.m. (3 p.m.–close on Thursday in University Heights)
802 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter; 2736 Adams Avenue, University Heights
Come for the appetizers, stay for craft cocktails. During regular hours, the bar stops pouring only when its seats are fully empty, but we suggest posting up at the restaurant before the sun goes down for $7 concoctions and $6 sangrias. This industrial-chic spot dishes out special plates for happy hour, too, like a $4.50 pulled pork sandwich or cheeseburger slider, as well as favorites from the regular menu. Consider the $5.50 deviled eggs that pack a crunch—they’re topped with lemon potato crisps.
Daily 4:30–6 p.m.
2202 Fourth Avenue
On a regular night, dinner here is a sophisticated French dining experience, often with the price tag to show for it. But during happy hour, you can get the same vibe sitting at the bar with $5 Champagne cocktails, $12 moules frites (normally $26), and $12 gnocchi (normally $17).
Daily 5–6 p.m.
4090 Adams Avenue
This bottle shop and bistro reflects the South Park neighborhood it’s in—welcoming and charming with a mom-and-pop feel. During their weekday happy hour, any glass of wine is $2 off and all craft beer and cider is $5. Or you can get the vino flowing by buying a bottle; during happy hour the corkage fee is $5 instead of the usual $10. And there’s nothing like carbs to soak up the alcohol: All flatbreads are $2 off.
Monday–Wednesday 4:30–6 p.m. and Thursday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
2219 30th Street
At this Rancho Bernardo restaurant meets brewery meets winery, happy hour at the bar and patio is not for the faint of heart. The menu includes tater tot poutine, pork spare ribs, a polish hot dog, and garlic noodles with bacon. The wine selection includes a Spanish grenache, French sparkling white, and Abnormal Wine Co.’s pinot grigio. Plus you can sip on their house-brewed beers for $5–$8.
Tuesday–Sunday 3–6 p.m.
16990 Via Tazon
We were sad to see the cozy Belgian beer bar Brabant close, but in its place came this vibrant, family-friendly Mexican restaurant from the same people behind Kensington Cafe and The Haven Pizzeria. Del Sur’s patio, with its colorful planter boxes and motley crew of hipsters, families, and four-legged friends, is a great spot for people-watching. At happy hour, margaritas are $6 (or go next-level with a full pitcher for $30), beers are $3, and all appetizers, including street corn and flautas, are $7 each. They also have other specials, like three tacos for $10 on Taco Tuesday and happy hour drinks all night Wednesdays.
Weekdays 4–6 p.m.
2310 30th Street
Much like its predecessor Raglan Public House, this similarly New Zealand–inspired spot focuses on burgers, including beef, wild boar, and elk. During happy hour, lamb sliders, pretzel bites with a jalapeño cheese, and all craft beers are $5 each. The leafy, elevated front patio has a tucked-away treehouse feel with plenty of room for dogs. It overlooks bustling 30th Street in North Park, which means plenty of hipster people-watching.
Daily 3–6 p.m.
3501 30th Street
At this boardwalk spot, park yourself on the rooftop for sunset views, fire pits, and a different special every day of the week, from $5 micheladas and $10 Champagne bottles on Sundays to $5 tequila mules and $6 appetizers on Thursdays. Sporty types can watch games on one of 24 TVs, but know that the bar pledges loyalty to the Packers, Jayhawks, and UCLA. The crowd veers young and the vibe is party-hearty.
Days and times vary
4190 Mission Boulevard
The North County sister of Cucina Urbana and Cucina Sorella holds its own with a beautiful two-story space in Flower Hill. Sit at the bar and community area to get the deals and choose among three menus: the afternoon snacks or “intermezzo” menu, the happy hour menu, and the daily deals menu. We like Thursday’s daily deal, when any pizza is $10, although to skip the antipasti and house-made pasta is criminal.
Monday 5–6 p.m. and Tuesday–Sunday 3–6 p.m.; daily deals 3–6 p.m.; afternoon snacks Tuesday–Sunday 2–5 p.m.
2730 Via de la Valle
It’s happy hour at the bar, in the lounge, and on the patio of this Liberty Station Italian restaurant, where wine, well drinks, and small plates are $5 each. Pair your cabernet with the Sicilian-style bruschetta or the house specialty veal and beef meatballs, or try the pear and gorgonzola pizza.
Tuesday–Saturday 3–6:30 p.m. and Sunday 4:30–6:30 p.m.
2820 Roosevelt Road
Happy hour spins Sicilian here, where sausage polenta, eggplant bruschetta, shrimp skewers, and short rib carpaccio are all a part of the eats, with the house red, white, and draft beer at $5 each. You can sit at the bar or at one of the high-top tables that overlook India Street.
Daily 3–6 p.m.
1917 India Street
This bustling happy hour takes place on the rooftop, with a steady stream of office workers, tourists, and 20- and 30-somethings drinking $5 local beers and wines and $8 cocktails. Hummus, mac and cheese, a veggie flatbread, and meatballs are a part of the half-price appetizer menu.
Weekdays 4–6 p.m.
535 Fifth Avenue
The cocktails are just as beautiful, chic, and Instagrammable as the space. During happy hour, tipples with cool ingredients like chile liqueur and black lava salt are $7 each, but you can eat well, too. The menu spans portobello fries with a vegan avocado cilantro aioli, skirt steak with citrus yogurt, and brie with a punchy apricot-habanero honey. Want something more substantial? They have a burger-and-beer deal for $10 (fries for $3 extra).
Tuesday–Friday 4–7 p.m.
4622 Park Boulevard
Rancho Santa Fe
The happy hour menu rotates often at this Rancho Santa Fe tapas bar, helmed by Chez Panisse alum Richard Mazzera. Specials include $7 reds, whites, and sparkling wines, $1 oysters, and an oft-changing selection of appetizers for $5 each.
Tuesday–Saturday 4–6 p.m. and $1 oysters all day Sunday
16089 San Dieguito Road
Inside the cantina, order a beer, well drink, wine, or marg and gain access to the free antojito buffet: bottomless helpings of appetizers like taquitos and mini enchiladas. Draft beers and La Terre wines are $1 off, while well drinks and small house margaritas (17.5 ounces) are $3.95, in flavors like mango and peach. Most popular is the Cadillac Margarita—Sauza Hornitos, triple sec, and premium sweet and sour, with a shot of Grand Marnier on the side—which will set you back $11.25 for a small (17.5 ounces) and $14.25 for a medium (27.5 ounces). But hey—mini enchiladas!
Weekdays 4–7 p.m. with extended hours for Monday Night Football
4105 Taylor Street
Classics are on rotation for happy hour at this Oceanside restaurant, housed in a former drag car shop. Margaritas, old-fashioneds, and Moscow mules are $6 each, and they serve wings, truffle fries, and ahi poke. If you want something heartier, they also do discounted entrées, including a grilled cheese and soup for $7 (normally $13) and the Masters Burger with a bacon aioli for $10 (normally $16).
Monday all day, Tuesday–Friday 3–6 p.m., and Friday–Saturday 10 p.m.–close
208 South Coast Highway
We don’t love giving away secrets, but this one’s too good to keep in. At this airy eatery that focuses on old-school bread and the many forms it takes (sandwiches, pizza, etc.), $4 at happy hour buys you a beer, wine, or even a whole margarita pie. To nosh further, they also have a $6 burrata crostini and $9 pasta pomodoro, plus discounted salads and a charcuterie board.
Tuesday–Friday 3–5:30 p.m.
950 Sixth Avenue
We love drinking in a wine store among racks and racks of bottles (bonus for the oversize couches and outdoor patio). In addition to daily steals and tastings, the happy hour offers wine, beer, and food discounts, plus $5 mimosa pints (yes, pints!) on weekends. The food menu is notably extensive for a wine store, including salads, hot sandwiches, pizzas, and cheese boards perfect for sharing. The most popular pizza here is the Pinot Noir: garlic sauce with prosciutto, red peppers, and mozzarella, topped with arugula, shaved Asiago, and white truffle oil. This is a place where you can sit and park yourself and your friends for hours.
Tuesday–Friday 5–7 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
1953 San Elijo Avenue
It’s only fitting that San Diego’s trailblazer in high-quality, upscale oceanfront dining has a comparably venerable bar program. At Level2, sandwiched between California Modern and George’s at the Cove, it’s all about the $8 cocktails, like the tropical-tinged Pisco Punch and the rum-heavy Twelve Mile Limit. There are also $7 house reds and whites plus $4 beer from Thorn Street Brewery and New English Brewing. Pair your drinks with a taco trio plate or bánh mì ($5 each). Their new late-night happy hour has a slightly smaller menu with $10 cocktails.
Weekdays 3:30–6:30 p.m. plus Thursday–Saturday 9 p.m.–12 a.m.
1250 Prospect Street
The taqueria offers a rotating selection of $4 beers plus free chips, but that’s just happy hour. Tuesdays get you three tacos for $6 and Thursdays mean $2.50 empanadas.
Weekdays 2–5 p.m.
2196 Logan Avenue
Encinitas + Ocean Beach
Drink specials vary between the OB and Encinitas locations, but count on more than just $5 wine by the glass—there’s also $5 sangria and beer, $6 well drinks (OB), and a $7 Tito’s vodka martini (OB), or $7 spicy watermelon martini (Encinitas). You’ll also find discounted carafes, pitchers, wine flights, and beer by the bottle. The bistro food ranges from $11 to $14, from hummus to an escargot Bourgogne.
Encinitas: Tuesday–Saturday 3–6 p.m. and 10 p.m.–close. OB: Tuesday–Friday 3–6 p.m.; Tuesday–Saturday 10 p.m.–close; Sunday 9–11 p.m.
897 South Coast Highway, Encinitas; 2265 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach
Sports bars aren’t typically known for their food, but Rabbit Hole is an exception. Look for portobello mushroom fries, wings with a ghost pepper garlic sauce, and “cotton tail” bites, a handful of cheese curds served with a pesto ranch. At happy hour, drink your way through $6 old-fashioneds and “The Dude,” made with Modern Times dark house cold press coffee. And kids can kick it, too; there’s a game area in the back with cornhole.
Weekdays 5–7 p.m.
3377 Adams Avenue
Locations in Coronado, Del Mar, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Point Loma, Poway, and (coming soon) Portside Pier
At this homegrown favorite, hours vary by location, but each place features at least one happy hour that goes all night. Happy hour best-sellers include fish tacos, crab cakes, clam chowder, and oysters on the half shell. Imperial Beach residents just got the newest outpost, which opened in October—a 3,300-square-foot casual oyster bar serving fresh seafood.
Hours vary by location. No happy hour at Kearny Mesa restaurant, which serves lunch only.
Don’t underestimate Morena Boulevard—it’s not all dives and gas stations! Luce is the brainchild of Tony D’Amato, who owns Baci Ristorante next door. The food leans upscale, the beer and wine selection is extensive, and the cocktails are excellent. With open windows and TVs hanging on brick walls, Luce is a tavern-enoteca-gastropub that quickly gets packed and loud, so come early to get a table.
Daily 3–5 p.m. for food and 3–6 p.m. for drinks
1959 Morena Boulevard
Do you know the muffin pan? It’s how this quirky Kiwi eatery, housed in a 1905 Craftsman in Little Italy, delivers drink flights during happy hour. Mix and match three wines and creative sangrias for $9 or six draft beers for the same price. Pair your libations with a few hefty $4 sliders—the Bare Lil’ Lamb is a popular choice—and call it a meal.
Weekdays 3–6 p.m.
1557 Columbia Street
Dinner here is sophisticated, albeit pricey. During happy hour on the patio and at the high-top tables, you can drink $4 draft beers and $5 house wines while snacking on duck fat truffle fries, escargot au gratin, French onion soup, and even Jidori chicken liver pâté. It’s date night on the cheap.
Weekdays 5–6 p.m.
3408 30th Street
The second location of this Old Town original has a hasty happy hour—one literal hour—unless you make it in on a Monday, when it lasts until 10 p.m. Drinks and bites begin at $4 and top out at $10. On the higher end, the half and half roll and sustainable nigiri sampler is popular, while the $5.50 large hot sakes and $7 infused sake vases will keep you far from thirsty.
Weekdays 5:30–6:30 p.m.
301 Mission Avenue
Even this elegant establishment isn’t above doing Taco Tuesdays, when Baja fish tacos are $4 and draft beers are $2 off. Other nightly drink specials and New American cuisine from chef Duvinh Ta are just part of the draw at this recently remodeled beachfront restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Monday all night and Tuesday–Friday 3–6 p.m.
1660 Coast Boulevard
The sleek, swanky steakhouse, with its wooden beams, exposed brick, and leather banquettes, is a welcome contrast to San Diego’s beach bars and flip-flop dress codes. Here, you can feast on half-price everything—including cocktails, wine, and well spirits; plus appetizers, like grilled wagyu sirloin skewers, sliders, and steamed mussels.
Weekdays 3–6 p.m.
640 10th Avenue
Happy hour at this La Jolla spot may not come with the jaw-dropping cove views, but it is located in the cozy lounge area every day with excellent $8 cocktails, $5 house wines, and $10 small plates that span white fish ceviche and tuna tostadas. It’s a more wallet-friendly option than settling in for a full seafood-centric dinner.
Daily 5–7 p.m.
1250 Prospect Street
They may be known for the sugar, but at the Little Italy location—a light-filled warehouse that’s more spacious than their cozy Bankers Hill address—the focus is on savory items. Snack on onion dip with kettle chips, a brie plate with three varieties (triple cream black truffle, goat, and jalapeño), or a meze platter that includes house-made tzatziki. Stone Brewing Co.’s IPAs are just $3 and a serving of watermelon rosé sangria for two is $18 (normally $22).
Weekdays 4–7 p.m.
1430 Union Street
It’s one of the originals in terms of cool, classy cocktail bars in San Diego, and during happy hour, specialty cocktails are $2 off and well drinks and select drafts are $5 each. Pair your drinks with barbecue Jidori chicken wings or sloppy José tostada for $5.50 each.
Daily 5–7 p.m. (starts at 4 p.m. Fridays)
3175 India Street
Downtown + La Jolla
A $100 gift card won’t make a dent in your dinner bill. But if you hit up happy hour instead, you can get $6 cocktails and wines by the glass, several apps (portobello ravioli! filet mignon flatbread!), or a juicy prime burger for under $10. The bar menu is what makes Fleming’s—recognized by Wine Spectator—totally accessible. Cheers to that!
Daily 5–7 p.m.
380 K Street, Downtown; 8970 University Center Lane, La Jolla
With over 100 award-winning specialty martinis, it’s a wonder how this second-floor cabaret club pared its happy hour menu down to just vodka and gin variations, made classic or dirty and with lemon, raspberry, or vanilla drops. Three times the size of regular martinis, the 10-ounce $8 cocktails are perfect for sipping on the outdoor patio over $6 sweet potato fries. Stick around for the live entertainment, which usually begins at 8 p.m. in the showroom and requires a ticket purchase.
Daily 4–7 p.m.
3940 Fourth Avenue
Cantina is a San Diego favorite among locals and industry folks for a reason, and not just because of the extensive tequila collection. During happy hour, a street taco trio plate (sirloin, chicken, or carnitas) runs for $7.50, while Tecate cans are $2.50 and margaritas are $5. The daily specials draw a crowd, too. On Mondays, the happy hour menu runs all day.
Tuesday–Friday 12–6 p.m.
2934 Adams Avenue
Step into Kafe Sobaka and you might think you forgot your passport. Its decor is as tongue-in-cheek as its Georgian and Russian cuisine is authentic, and its menu is just plain ornery—the salat vesna is described as being “rare as chastity.” During happy hour, you can choose from 15 petite plates priced at $4.50 each—it takes us about four to fill up—and international brews for $5.50. For “dessert,” select a $4.50 infused vodka with a complimentary side of pickled vegetables.
Daily 4–6 p.m.
It’s not new, and the food is not the cheapest. But this dog-friendly place with a sidewalk patio is a favorite with locals. The discounts mostly apply to the drinks: $5 house margs, draft beers, and well drinks, with $6 house wines and $2 off appetizers. Standouts include the lobster tacos and homemade nachos topped with the works.
Weekdays 2–6 p.m.
530 Grand Avenue
In just its first few months, this woman-led distillery has launched a floral-forward American-style gin, hosted cocktail-making classes, and debuted a happy hour brunch. You can sip on $7 gimlets and martinis during the week, while the weekend happy hour menu includes brunch-inspired libations, like Border Coffee, made with their house vodka, cold brew, egg white, and cinnamon. The bright warehouse space is so inviting, though, that you’ll probably want to stay. They lead 45-minute tours of the distillery for $15 per person.
Wednesday–Friday 4–6 p.m. and weekends 12–2 p.m.
1495 G Street
The window for deals is small, and the HH menu is just a taste of what this petite powerhouse has to offer. But locals happily fill up on grilled and fried fish tacos for $2.75, fresh shucked oysters for $1, $5 canned beers and wines on tap, and $4 Dos Equis on tap. We say, come for the discounts, stay for the atmosphere and full menu.
Tuesday–Friday 4–6 p.m.
1468 North Coast Highway 101