Your Essential OC Happy Hour Guide

Where to go for the best deals and drinks

Lazy Dog Cafe
Even without our recession, the basic, decidedly un-froufrou food sold at this growing local chain would be appealing. It’s even more affordable at happy hour, which is, by the way, accessible at the patio for those who bring along Fido. The dog-friendly theming continues with beer taps that are fire hydrants, with bones as levers. These beers go well with such munchies as the $5 Mediterranean mini-pizza with a bottom-crisped crust and a roster of toppings, including goat cheese and balsamic-vinegar syrup. Shanghai lettuce tacos are just as tasty and refreshing as the wagging-tongue-in-cheek humor. (EG) 16310 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 500-1140; Mon.-Wed., 3-6 p.m. & 9-10 p.m.; Thurs., 3-6 p.m. & 9 p.m.-midnight; Fri., 3-6 p.m.; Sun, 9-10 p.m. 1623 W. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 769-7020; Mon.-Thurs., 3-6 p.m. & 9-11 p.m.; Fri., 3-6 p.m.; Sun., 9-11 p.m. 13290 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 731-9700; Mon.-Thurs., 3-6 p.m. & 9 p.m.- midnight; Fri., 3-6 p.m.; Sun., 9 p.m.-midnight.

Lola Gaspar
Lola Gaspar is part of the Artists Village, one of the only places to do a proper pub crawl in OC. Though only two drinks are on special (margaritas and sangria, both $3), all draft beer is $4, and there’s an expanded range of food available on special, from bleu-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates to a chile relleno. The “street tacos” are a decent deal during “siesta hour”—otherwise, head down to the taco trucks that line the blocks west of Main and south of First. Food specials end at 5 p.m., and drink specials at 6 p.m., though. (DL) 211 W. Second St., Santa Ana, (714) 972-1172; Mon.-Thurs., 3-6 p.m. & 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri., 3-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 p.m.-midnight.

Lucille’s Smokehouse
Get here early! The Flying Pig Lounge areas at this Long Beach-based chain are the only place the deals abound, and seats become scarce the closer it gets to 7 p.m. Fried green tomatoes sit on a roasted-red-pepper cream sauce. The bottoms of the cheese and smoked chicken-stuffed potato skins crackle like caramelized sugar. The smoked beef-brisket sliders put Sloppy Joes to shame. And the barbecue rib tips? Well, they look and taste like a Top Chef-plated gourmet dish. Appetizer specials run from $1.95 to $5.95, and drink specials are $3.25 to $6. (EG) 1639 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 990-4944; 23760 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, (949) 581-RIBS; 2550 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 259-1BBQ; 7411 Carson St., Long Beach, (562) 938-RIBS; 4828 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 434-RIBS; Mon.-Fri., 3-7 p.m. & 9 p.m.- close; Sat.-Sun., 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

McCormick and Schmick’s
Until very recently, the only deals at this seafood chain’s trio of OC locations were on the food: chicken sliders for $4.95, quesadillas for $3.95, and the famous half-pound cheeseburger and fries for $2.95, but the economy has prompted the chain to put drink specials on the menu. They’re still expensive ($7 martinis, $6 house wine, $5 Sam Adams), but eating and drinking works out to a pretty decent bargain. Hours and specific specials vary by location and season, so check the website before venturing out. (DL) At Anaheim GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 535-9000; 2791 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 558-1963; 2000 Main St., Irvine, (949) 756-0505; Generally, Mon.-Fri., 3:30-6 p.m.

Memphis At the Santora
The Santa Ana branch of Costa Mesa’s temple to neo-Southern cookery is the polar opposite of its parent: a light, bright corner. Drink specials vary but are listed on a blackboard on the plaza end of the restaurant; beers are run-of-the-mill, so stick with real liquor. The munchies can be sated with a very good meatloaf sandwich (on a baguette); Zuni flatbread with sage pesto, corn and pepper Jack cheese; or well-cooked fried okra—among other choices (all $5). Happy hour is the time to talk to the bartenders, who are happy to introduce you to liquors you may not have tried. (DL) 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1064; Tues.-Sat., 3-7 p.m.

Mugs Away Saloon
Bare butts are typically only on display one day a year at this Laguna Niguel dive that hosts the annual “Moon Amtrak” event, the décor is a monument to unapologetic Republican chauvinism (“January 20, 2009: The Start of an Error” reads one bumper sticker), and the crowd is a motley assortment of South County stereotypes, from construction bosses to trust-fund babies, former Capistrano Valley jocks to women in business suits and makeup. In keeping with its Middle America bar theme, domestic drafts (Coors, Miller, Bud) are $3 and well drinks are $4. Service is excellent, with the “Mugs Girls” making sure no one goes thirsty. (DL) 27324 Camino Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, (949) 582-9716; Mon.-Fri., 3-7 p.m.

OC Sports Grill
The former Nationals has morphed into a better, happier version of its former self. Huge TVs, plenty of pool tables and great service mean this place is a sea of red on Angels-game days. The full bar is surprisingly well-tended, with a decent selection of beer. Heavy drinkers should consider the 100-fluid-ounce “tapper,” a 5-foot column of cold beer with a tap at the bottom. Stick with the fried bar snacks here: Mozzarella sticks, fries and nachos will serve you well, though the club sandwich is worth a mention, too. (DL) 450 N. State College Blvd., Orange, (714) 935-0300; Mon.-Fri., 3:30-5:30 p.m.

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