Happy Hours, Anti-Happy Hours, Social Hours, Hoppy Hours...well, this could go on for a while. Orange County’s food scene has evolved into a nucleus of quality after work menus, offering libations from humble house mixers that hit the spot to cocktails of craftsman proportions for slower sippings (and a small bites pairing or two if you’re lucky!) all at hard-to-beat prices. These local establishments bring menus that make the top of our list for the best excuse to indulge in post-office outings with colleagues and friends alike. Cin, cin.
KIYOMIZU | DTSA
One of DTSA’s newest eateries, handroll house Kiyomizu embraces supreme simplicity with one primary formula: crisp nori, warm sushi rice, and seafood delivered daily to uphold the highest quality. When the handrolls are this fresh, what else could you possibly ask for? How about an everyday Happy Hour, with Golden Road Brewing’s Point the Way IPA for $4, Hangar 24’s Orange Wheat for $3, and edamame or pork sausages for $2 to pair with made-to-order handrolls. KANPAI!
SHUCK OYSTER BAR | COSTA MESA, CA.
Shuck Oyster Bar is a sharp little spot inside the food hall concept The OC Mix in Costa Mesa, and they promise the finest shuck with their guarantee of incredibly fresh oysters, just one day out of the water. For happy hour, you’ll find $2 fresh oysters (selected varieties), plus $2 off all alcohol. Our drink of choice? A shot of the whisky-barrel-aged soju, Migaki, racking up to $3 a shot from the hours of 2PM to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday!
HATCH | TUSTIN, CA.
Hatch is the sliders-centric brainchild of local restaurant tycoon Leonard Chan, and probably the only space where you can be transported to a seamless fusion of mid-century modern and tiki aesthetic with one of the widest happy hour lineups around. Mai Tai Mondays are for all day $6 Happy Hour Mai Tai’s. Tiki Tuesdays feature a rotating weekly special for a discounted tiki cocktail. Monday through Friday Happy Hour selections range from draught beers $3.50-$5, house wines for $5, and $2 off select sides and entrees. Mahalo indeed.
HABANA | COSTA MESA, CA.
It’s too hard to pass up the exquisite Cuban fare of Habana when it comes with late night happy hour Monday through Sunday. Swing by between 10 PM to 1 AM (2 AM Saturdays and Sundays) and enjoy $5 on sangria, classic mojitos, wells, and more! Feeling hungry? Bites are $7 each until midnight, with delectable varieties like Pork Croquetta Fries and Ropa Vieja Sandwiches with mango slaw. Who needs sleep when it means more time for eats!
MESA | COSTA MESA, CA.
Mesa in Costa Mesa calls their offering an “elevated happy hour”, and they’re not kidding. When you can find crafted Old Fashioneds and Manhattans on happy hour, you know you’ve hit a great spot. The menu includes bar bites for $5 including shishito peppers and sweet potato fries, and get a variety of pizzas or grilled marinated shrimp for just $7. Enjoy high-end cocktails like a Moscow Mule, sangria and margaritas for just $7 as well.
THE IRON PRESS | MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
Savory waffle sandwiches are fun enough on their own, but The Iron Press has kicked it up a notch with Hoppy Hour from Monday through Friday for the ultimate post-work pick-me-ups. From 3 to 6 PM, beat the traffic and stop by to enjoy $10 beer flights, $5 pours, and a select $3.50 pour from their 30 rotating taps. $2 tater tots and waffle fries will help fill you up for the long commute back.
SOCIAL | COSTA MESA, CA.
Come by new-American hotspot Social for their “Social Hour,” where signature craft cocktails and tasty eats are enough to keep you coming back. Between Tuesday and Friday, step right up to the rustic bar and choose among $7 classic cocktails like a Paloma, Old Fashioned, Gimlet, and more. Take $2 off all draught beer, and $6 gets you any house red or white! Not to mention delectable petite dishes like Brussel Sprouts with honey, Louisiana-style house Tasso Ham, honey, and hazelnuts, or maybe something heartier like the Bacon & Pimento Grilled Cheese. But when these eats are $8 a piece, why not enjoy one of everything? Though we do warn you to hurry, the Social Hour menu is only featured between 5 and 6 PM.
CITIZEN KITCHEN | FULLERTON, CA.
Citizen Kitchen offers happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 7 PM. Located inside The Hotel Fullerton, Citizen is getting rave reviews from locals and hotel guests alike for their cuisine and craft cocktails. Find tasty gourmet bites like their amazing polenta fries, shrimp skewers with caper and olive vinaigrette or a lamb “martini” - mini lamb chops served in a martini glass. Citizen pairs house wines and craft beers with these delectable bites for just $4 during happy hour. Don’t forget to try The Little Burgers People Like, also known as New York strip sliders with house-made ketchup, goat cheese, arugula and spiced tomato jam. Just keep your eyes peeled...rumor has it a new and improved Happy Hour menu is on the horizon!
CHAPTER ONE: THE MODERN LOCAL | DTSA
Chapter One is one of the hottest bars in OC, located in the heart of Santa Ana’s burgeoning downtown district. Join them for “After Office,” their aptly named Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 PM. The After Office Menu includes: $5 tapas plates, half-price draft beers, $4 fresh fruit infusion shots, $5 house wines, $6 specialty drinks, and if you’ve got your whole crew with you, select wine bottles for just $20. Serving local, sustainable cuisine, Chapter One offers $5 apps like duck fat fries, fried pickles and stuffed jalapenos during happy hour. Staying for dinner is an extra treat - make sure to try one of their specialty burgers, pork belly buns or the rich and delicious butternut gnocchi.
RED BAR | IRVINE, CA.
Red Bar boasts one of Irvine’s top choice happy hours, and it’s not hard to see why. Daily offerings from 3 to 7 PM include food and libation options. Think Pork Lumpia for $4, Three Cheese Flatbread for $5, and featured house cocktails for $5.50. Among the drinks, we suggest the Dealer’s Choice option, just pick the spirit and let your bartender do the rest.
BARLEY FORGE BREWING CO. | COSTA MESA, CA.
Brats, burgers, brews. Barley Forge has done it right so far and has stayed ahead of the local game since its inception, with West Coast and German style beers brewing just behind The Camp and delicious sandwich and sausage pairings to match. To keep themselves in front of the local brewery pack: Grilled Cheese Tuesdays, and unconventionally fun Happy Hour with nine carefully crafted sandwiches to choose from, like romage de Meaux brie with D’anjou pears on sourdough, or the Onion Jam Grilled Cheese. The added bonus of insane cheese goodness is found in the full pour beer pairing that comes built into the price of each sammie.
25 DEGREES | HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA.
25 Degrees is not your run of the mill burger bar, elevating customer experience with dim light and sexy ingredients enough to drag you out of the bustle of Downtown’s Main Street with agreeable submission. Their daily (yes, Monday through Sunday) Happy Hour menu is culmination of foods and drinks, with the likes of $2 french fries, sweet potatoes, and onion rings, $5 Boback hotdogs, and alcoholic refreshments ranging from $4-$6. Munch on, sip long!
BISTANGO | IRVINE, CA.
Bistango offers maybe one of the longest happy hours in OC, you could almost call it “happy half-day”! From 4pm to close, Bistango offers a special small-plate menu and discounted drink prices. Tucked in the center of Irvine’s corporate business district, Bistango is a delightful fave of locals with its spacious outdoor patio with hanging lights and fountains and also a great indoor bar, live music filling the space several nights a week. Be sure to try their Moroccan Lamb Sausage with apple raisin chutney, or the amazing wild salmon skewer on cucumber salad.
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