Your Essential OC Happy Hour Guide

Where to go for the best deals and drinks

The bulk of the customers at this cheapest venue of Marc Cohen’s seafood empire comes for the inexpensive booze and half-price appetizers. But you don’t have to bump shoulders at the overcrowded bar. Any seat in the dark-as-a-den restaurant is a happy-hour seat. Go for the steamed mussels and clams: Served in the vessel they were cooked in, the shellfish swim in a briny broth decorated with julienned scallions. Move on to either the ridiculous tower of sweet-potato chips impaled on a stick or the slightly saner seafood-artichoke dip, which comes with triangles of crispy-soft pita-bread triangles. (EG) At Town Center, 26851 Aliso Creek Rd., Ste. C, Aliso Viejo, (949) 360-8822; At the Marketplace, 13122 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 508-8055; Sun.-Thurs., 4-6:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 9-11 p.m.

Tucked away in an anonymous corporate park near John Wayne Airport, this Italian restaurant features what may be the best well in OC: a laundry list of known, decent brands rather than the many faces of Bols or Barton. Given that well drinks are $4 during happy hour, this is a good thing, but don’t ignore the house wine or the bottled-beer selection either. If the complimentary grissini (breadsticks) aren’t enough, the eats are also excellent, from calamari steak to pizzas, from gnocchi to a meatball sandwich with salad, all $4. (DL) 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, (949) 553-1333; Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.

Proof Bar
The would-be dive bar in Santa Ana’s Artists Village is known for its college crowd and loud music at night, but it’s light, airy and uncrowded during the day, with $3 off the well, $2 beer and $1 off everything else. The beer (all bottled) features some local surprises, and the liquor selection is a step up from normal—try Zacapa or Zaya rum. If you get the munchies, you can order $5 appetizers from Memphis at the Santora next door, which will be delivered to the bar for you. (DL) 215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 953-2660; Mon.-Fri., 4-8 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 OC outposts of this chain of loud, emphatically un-Japanese sushi-fusion restaurants pack in a huge crowd during happy hour. Drink specials range from $2 pours of hot sake to $4-to-$5 well and speciality (fruity liqueur-based) drinks. The bar is vodka-heavy, which suits the clientele. Most people come for the half-off sushi and appetizers, including the Viva Las Vegas roll (essentially a crab rangoon in sushi form) and the lobster spring rolls. The best part about this is the happy-hour menu is available throughout the restaurant, not just in the bar. (DL) 155 Fifth St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-6390. At the District at Tustin, 2401 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 566-1700. Mon.-Sat., 3-7 p.m.

Taps Fish House & Brewery
Head in to the enormous, sunken bar, the lounge or the outdoor patio, and order an excellent house-brewed beer ($4), a speciality martini ($6) or a glass of wine ($5). The pretzels are a must-order, with a slightly sweet, spicy mustard sauce for dipping. Add some sliders or an order of calamari (all $6), and call it a meal. Taps also has what must be the cheapest growlers in OC, should you wish to indulge at home: $2 for the glass and $10 or so for the fill. (DL) 101 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 257-0101; Mon.-Fri., 2-7 p.m.; Sat., noon-5 p.m.

320 Main
There’s more to drinking in this town than so-called “Irish” pubs. If you’re hankering for craft mixology, though, go find Jason at the bar at this tiny hideaway close to Pacific Coast Highway. The list of $4 and $5 drink specials (beer, house wine, well drinks, plus one specialty on Tuesdays) will serve you well, especially the cucumber daiquiri. If you’re feeling flush, ask for the hidden menu of drink specials (which, sadly, are not on the happy-hour list). Snack on $4 appetizers such as pesto clams or bruschetta. (DL) 320 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 799-6246; Tues.-Sat., 3-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Throwbacks Sports Bar & Grill
The place to pre-party before a home game for the Halos, Throwbacks has 16 taps, including Alaskan, Fat Tire and Firestone. Or go for the game special: free parking, a hot dog and a beer before the game; a free shuttle ride to and from; and a beer on the way back—all for $10. The beer-and-wine license means all its “cocktails” are built on soju, so stick to beer. Non-game nights feature varying specials, ranging from “empty the keg” nights (Mondays) to Taco Tuesdays with $1 chicken tacos. Go in with patience on a game night, though; it gets slammed! (DL) 1759 Claudina Way, Anaheim, (714) 533-3813; Mon.-Fri., 3-6 p.m.

Tokyo Table
It may have abandoned the discounts on the food, but the izakaya-sized small plates were already cheap to begin with. Rice paper wraps the spicy tuna rolls; bacon covers the asparagus speared on sticks; and an ultra-rich mayo-based “dynamite” sauce drowns the wonton chips that make Tokyo Table’s version of nachos. The saketinis are cutely titled, as though they were doe-eyed anime characters. The mango mojito is styled like something out of Club Med—a strange but brisk mix of mulled mint, rum and mango nectar that Bill Murray’s character in Lost In Translation could shill with a clear conscience. (EG) 2710 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 263-0000; Sun.-Thurs., 3-6 p.m. & 10 p.m.-midnight.

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