Your Essential OC Happy Hour Guide

Where to go for the best deals and drinks

Dave and Buster’s
Yeah, it’s Chuck E. Cheese with liquor, but D&B offers an oasis of a happy hour, with 50 percent off cocktails and beer and wine specials. While the beer-and-wine list is execrable, the bartenders pour good mixed drinks, and the food is a hidden surprise. The chicken nachos may be the best on offer in OC, with a little bit of each topping painstakingly layered on each individual chip, and the queso dip and potato skins are worthy choices as well. (DL) At the Block at Orange, 20 The City Blvd. W., Orange, (714) 769-1515; At Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 727-0555; Mon.-Fri., 4:30-7 p.m.; Sun.-Thurs., 9-11 p.m.

Don the Beachcomber
The crowd here is surprisingly eclectic, from crusty old men in Hawaiian shirts to young women in business suits. Tiki torches, daggers and tall, cold drinks heavy on the rum are the order of the day in the dark Dagger Bar of this landmark restaurant in Surfside, whose happy hour features a 50 percent discount on all drinks and apps. There is a fine list of rhums agricoles, artisanal Caribbean rums. The eats, hilariously still called “pupus,” are a nod to Polynesian kitsch: Try a plate of Spam sushi or Hawaiian nachos with your mai tai. (DL) 16278 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (562) 592-1321; Tues.-Sun., 4-7 p.m.; Mon., 4-10 p.m.

Durty Nelly’s
Its whole existence is predicated on its Happy Hour. You come to Durty Nelly’s for the cheap, basic bar food: chicken wings, onion rings, etc. A crowd of Guinness-drinking regulars packs the place, even on weekdays, which is when you need a pub like this the most. Spring a few bucks more for the steamed artichokes or Irish nachos. The latter is more of a punch line than a meal; subbing for tortilla chips are cubed boiled potatoes, and the meat is, of course, corned beef. (EG) 2915 Red Hill Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 957-1951; Drink specials, Mon.-Thurs., 4-7 p.m.; appetizer specials, Mon.-Sat., 4-9 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

Henry’s Bar and Grill
The diviest of North County dive bars is hidden from the main drag, not terribly far from Garden Grove’s Historic Main Street, in an industrial zone. Walk in and order a beer ($1 off standard selections) or a well drink, plus a couple of $2 bar snacks, which includes a charmingly misnamed “petite burger.” Additional specials vary by day, but include huge burgers and fries for $5 on Mondays, $1.50 Tecates and tacos on Tuesdays, and $2 PBR on Thursdays. Wednesdays feature free pool and darts, and the jukebox has a mix of rock & roll and country. (DL) 10549 Stanford Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 537-9884; Mon.-Thurs., 3-6 p.m.; Fri., 2-7 p.m.

JT Schmid’s Restaurant & Brewery
The JT Schmid’s in Anaheim doesn’t do happy hour, but the Tustin branch does. It discounts everything boozey, even its signature beers, and virtually everything on the appetizer list ($3.50 drafts, $6 pitchers, $5 wines, $4.50 well drinks, $6 appetizers). Whet your whistle with a house hefeweizen, a light, cloudy summer brew made even more refreshing by a squeeze of lemon. The wings are laced with a sauce that tastes like barbecue but with a finishing chili kick. The sliders sting with crumbled bleu cheese, and the better-than-average ahi tuna poke rides on crispy wonton discs. Watch whatever is going on at the Honda Center on the TVs. (EG) At the District at Tustin Legacy, 2437 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 258-0333; Mon.-Fri., 3-6:30 p.m.; Late Nite Happy Hour, Mon.-Thurs., 10-11 p.m.

Karl Strauss Brewery & Restaurant
Karl Strauss’ darling waitresses will let you sample as many house microbrews as you want for free until you find one you like (which will run you $3.50). The food is standard bar fare. The nachos are gargantuan, if a little boring. But other plates are pitch-perfect for beer pairings, such as the sausage sampler: two per serving, slit like fish gills, served with a smattering of raisins, a swipe of strong mustard and cole slaw. The sweet-potato fries are dusted in chili-lime powder or smothered in melted Gorgonzola, as if sweet-potato fries need any embellishments. (EG) 901 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-2739; Daily, 4-6:30 p.m.

Kitsch Bar
Kitsch, a low-key option in Costa Mesa, is the place to go for those uncomfortable hours between dinner and the real party. The bar doesn’t open until 8 p.m. No cover, no food, no dancing, no bullshit. Kitsch is about sitting in comfortable armchairs, drinking, listening to music (often deep house) and catching up with friends. Well drinks, beer and wine are half-price; martinis are well-made here, there’s a good selection of higher-end liquors, and the selection of bottled beer isn’t too shabby, either. (DL) 891 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-8580; Daily, 8-10 p.m.

The only halfway trendy hotel in the Resort District houses two bars, both of which feature happy hour; choose the swish, leather-upholstered interior lounge, adjacent to the street-eats restaurant or the outdoor Palapa Bar, near the pool. This is the destination for slushy frozen drinks, though the well is better quality than most; mixed well drinks are a good option at half-off. A create-your-own $5 burger is a good dinner substitute, but the chicken empanadas are the best thing on the menu. (DL) In the Hotel Ménage, 1221 S. Harbor, Anaheim, (714) 758-0900; Daily, 4-7 p.m.

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