Your Essential OC Happy Hour Guide

Where to go for the best deals and drinks

Hmm. The happy hours feature on our food blog is called “Drunk After Work,” and the print headline of this list of OC’s most alluring weekday watering holes is “Intoxicating.” So, a moment for a word of caution: Please be safe, everybody. And after you’ve installed the OC Weekly Happy Hours applicationon your smart phone—which will lead you to these and many, many other fine eating and drinking establishments—please also find yourself an app that calls you a cab or a sober friend or stops you from drunk-dialing your ex. Or all of the above.

Got that? Okay. Now, let’s drink.

Agora Churrascaria
Agora pours a refreshing caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. It starts at $10 and is not discounted during happy hour, but who cares? You need this. Concocted from muddled lime, crunchy sugar and cachaça, it’s the most dangerous limeade you’ll sip. There are discounts on the food but only at the bar. Highlights are the chicken drumsticks and Brazilian sausages (both $4)—plus, there’s the free banana and chewy cheesy bread balls. Still peckish? A single trip to the salad/sides buffet line ($9) is the best deal of all. (EG) 1830 Main St., Irvine, (949) 222-9910; Daily 3-7 p.m.

Auld Dubliner
Jason Levesque/Stuntkid
Auld Dubliner
Lazy Dog Cafe
Jason Levesque/Stuntkid
Lazy Dog Cafe

Location Info


Agora Churrascaria

1830 Main St.
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Brazilian

Region: Irvine

AnQi Gourmet Bistro by Crustacean

3333 S. Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Costa Mesa

Anthill Pub & Grille

4200 Campus Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Irvine

Asian Tapas

6380 Irvine Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92620

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Irvine

Auld Dubliner

2497 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Tustin

The Balcony Grill and Bar

2710 Alton Parkway, Ste. 215
Irvine, CA 92606

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Irvine

Bar Louie Tavern & Grill

321 W. Katella, #212
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Bluewater Grill

630 Lido Park Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Newport Beach

Bootlegger's Brewery

130 S. Highland Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Breweries and Wineries

Region: Fullerton

The Cannery

3010 Lafayette Road
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Newport Beach

Casa Inka

8610 Warner Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Peruvian

Region: Fountain Valley

The Cellar

305 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Fine Dining

Region: Fullerton

The $4-to-$6 apps here, though tasty and immaculately prepared, are teeny-tiny. The chorizo corn dogs are gone in one bite. The mussels are buttery but slight. And the pork-belly-stuffed steamed bao is fattier than Kate Moss, but not by much. What did you expect from a place that caters to the couture crowd? The martini on special is called Bubblegum, but get the hefeweizen instead. It comes with a head made from a dollop of lemon foam the consistency of styling mousse. For a gut-filler, try the truffle-and-salt-dusted potato wedges. (EG) 3333 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-5679; Mon.-Fri., 4-7:30 p.m.

Anthill Pub
Some schools discourage drinking; others ban it. And then there’s UC Irvine, whose Anthill Pub in the Student Center bans drinking crappy beer. The no-swill policy means there is no hipster PBR or watery Bud anything. The ever-changing list of local and distant American craft beers, from Lagunitas to Dogfish Head, goes on sale every afternoon: $1 off single servings (tulip glasses or pints, depending on the beer) and $3 off pitchers. A full menu of sandwiches, including a very credible bratwurst, and fried snacks such as sweet potato fries are available at the adjacent counter. Had a place like this existed at every school, Natty Light would no longer exist. (DL) C-215 Student Center at UC Irvine, 4200 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 824-3050; Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.

Asian Tapas
The specials, hearty appetizers—which, yes, can be called tapas for lack of a better term—mostly hail from Northern China. Everything goes extremely well with $2-to-$3 beers. Wontons swim in a lip-tingling chili oil. The popcorn chicken—greaseless and dusted with a caking of red-pepper dust—shames those produced at boba shops. The ruddy matchsticks of chewy beef and tofu make you sweat just looking at them; you’re going to need more Tsingtao for this one. (EG) 6380 Irvine Blvd., Irvine, (949) 651-8999; Mon.-Fri., 5-6:30 p.m.

Auld Dubliner
Irish food gets a lot of flak, but it wouldn’t if people saw the half-off appetizers at Auld Dubliner. The ones that mash up the Asian and the Mexican with the Celtic taste best. The corned-beef tacos alone are ready for their own Twittering truck. The bangers get stuffed into flowery, deep-fried wontons. Even the fries are paired with an Indian curry. Okay, fine, that’s also how fries are done in Ireland. The obligatory foamy pint of Guinness isn’t discounted for happy hour, but the crisp Magner Irish Cider is only $3. (EG)2497 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 259-1562; Mon.-Sat., 3-6 p.m.

Balcony Bar and Grill
Here, happy hour lasts all day and night from Sunday through Thursday. The lychee martinis will be as potent as they are evocative of the fruit, discounted to $4.95 when it’s not Friday or Saturday. The nigoritini has the raw, cloudy murkiness of unfiltered sake. No discounts are offered on the food, but most appetizers tick well below the $6 mark. The spicy, deep-fried wings and a crispy tempura nest of gobo go down heavy—the better to stem the effects of anything that ends in -tini. (EG) 2710 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 215, Irvine, (949) 387-0888;, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Bar Louie
While Bar Louie doesn’t have much in the way of drink discounts during happy hour (an occasional special on domestic, mass-produced beer or a couple of bucks off a cocktail), they do offer 50 percent off all small plates on the menu, meaning that savvy tourists can have a cheap dinner. Sliders of a Kobe hot dog for Junior and seared tuna or baked goat cheese and four or five cocktails for Mom and Dad make it easy to have an early meal. (DL) At Anaheim GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella, Anaheim, (714) 495-4170; Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.

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