Good news from the bad economy: Happy hours have exploded across L.A.
No longer does “happy hour” refer only to those few hours after work when bars and lounges serve cheap drinks and mediocre food. Now upscale restaurants manned by celebrity chefs and skilled mixologists, along with premium hotel bars, lounges, bistros, dumpy dives, wine bars, gastropubs, jazz clubs, family eateries, chains, even bakeries are offering happy-hour specials at all hours of the day — anything to get you in the door.
Often, generous discounts can turn a little after-work refreshment into a complete dinner. You can pound down a Redbreast whiskey at Casey's, bite into a seared black-cod tapa crafted at Rivera or savor a smooth glass of Provenza at Bacaro.
Just what makes a great happy hour depends on what you are looking for. The Weekly went in search of the best L.A. has to offer and has come up with 50 favorites, each special for its own reasons. Whether your pleasure is dirt-cheap drinks, free food, gourmet grub, bottomless glasses, after-work respite, 24/7 sports coverage, karaoke, mixology magnificence, après-theater refreshment, live music, pool or games and gimmicks, we've got a happy hour for you.
The joint's been around for 41 years; the building for 94. This is a watering hole, somewhere you go to forget your crap-ass day and cure what ails you. And even though bar impresario Cedd Moses Dublin-fied it, he was smart enough to retain the spirit. It's for boozing, not cruising; crashing, not flashing. It's about whiskey. It's about beer. Life has taken place here, damn it, from the forever-ago knife-scrawled bar stools (who the hell was Wilsey?), to the chalkboard messages written in a drunken haze to the darkened nooks that god-knows-who got knocked up in. Tuesdays through Sundays 3-7 p.m. and Mondays until 11 p.m., you can save two bucks on already cheap cocktails and spirits, one on beer and wine (regularly $5-$7). There's grub too: $2 and $3 off appetizers like rings, wings and fries. But it's not about food, pal. It's about drinkin'. 613 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (213) 629-2353, bigcaseys.com.
The mission of this unique bar and gastropub for serious oenophiles, beer connoisseurs and adventurous neophytes is the joy of liquid enlightenment. The house experts relish finding the perfect libation to suit your mood. Owner Coly Den Haan changes the happy-hour menu weekly to highlight what's new in her rotating stock of more than 50 wine selections and almost-equal number of beers that you can enjoy for less, every day, 4-7 p.m. One night it might be a wine from Croatia, a high-end variety like Châteauneuf-du-Pape for $10 (rather than $20), or a pint of Port Brewings Hop 15 IPA for $6 instead of $10. Ongoing deals feature global wines starting at $3 (usually $5-$14) and beers at $2 (usually $3-$8). And the spin on gourmet white-trash snacks at $3-$6 (usually $5-$10), like mac 'n' cheese, Tater Tots and a McMustwich, will make you wish you came from a trailer park — or could go back to one. 118 W. Fifth St., L.A. (213) 627-1162, themustbar.com.
It may be in Venice, but you won't find a disheveled beach type here among the well-dressed, artsy patrons with evolved palates that salivate in anticipation of executive chef Shigefumi Tachibe's Mediterranean-Japanese fusions. But it seems that even moneyed hipsters need a break, because nightly from 5 p.m. until close, the bar is sardine-slammed with the young and beautiful, sucking up $9 alcoholic infusions for $3 less, like the Slingchi martini (vodka and lychee juice) and the almost-too-pretty-to-eat $4 and $5 vegetable and sushi rolls. The $2-$13 plates of fresh oysters on the half-shell, truffled pommes frites, lamb albóndigas, Dungeness crab cigars or soy-glazed cod bowl will only make you want to someday invest in a regular-priced dinner here. But you don't have to. You've got happy hour. 111 Navy St., Venice. (310) 396-2279. For other locations, visit thechaya.com.
Upon scaling the long ramp up to this minimalist and stylish Dodd Mitchell–designed building (formerly Cinch restaurant), you might think you're entering a sophisticated retreat. But noooooo! You're in a full-on sports bar, with a major sound system and 50 — count 'em, 50 — flat screens. Mondays through Fridays, 4-7 p.m., the place looks like the set of Grey's Anatomy since it's jam-packed with Saint John's Health Center employees who take a load off with $3 draft beers, $4 well drinks and $5 house wines. It's 30 percent off all appetizers but the main draw is 10 varieties of $1.75 sliders — try pork belly or chili-cheddar — and, some say, the best sweet-potato fries in town. 1519 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 395-4139, theparlor.com.
A sturdy and graceful magnolia tree surrounded by twinkling lights sets the stage for potential mates on the move at this elegant bistro, where your hands can spend more time on your date than in your wallet, at least Tuesdays through Fridays 4:30-7:30 p.m. and Sundays and Mondays until closing. That's when prices are slashed $2 and $3 on bottled and draft beers, wells are $5, margaritas, mojitos and martinis are $6. Warm your date up with a Sour Bitch made with watermelon and sour-apple pucker. Or stick to any of six wines at $6 per glass. A subdued 30-something crowd of Caltech types and Lake Avenue shoppers stop in for 30 percent off all menu items including the Magnolia Sirloin Cheeseburger (regularly $11) and the mighty Onion Ring Volcano (regularly $8). 492 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. (626) 584-1126, magnoliaonlake.com.
38 Degrees Ale House & Grill
If you're appeased by the mediocre American comfort food at chains like BJ's, you'll be in heaven at this beer-centric family eatery, where all the food is freshly prepared, without a prepackaged beef patty or canned pea in the place. Owners and beer enthusiasts Clay and Brian are always on hand to dispense advice on their 38 craft beers on tap, including Pliny the Elder, Sculpin and Tripel Karmeleit, and on weekdays, 3-7 p.m., all are $2 off (regularly $5-$9), along with the same discount on wells (regularly $5), signature cocktails (regularly $8-$10) like the Veev açaí berry martini, house wines (regularly $6-$8) and $2 off appetizers, including tuna tartare (regularly $12), chipotle honey wings (regularly $9) and mini BBQ short-rib eight-hour-braised Sloppy Joes, (regularly $8). 100 W. Main St., Alhambra. (626) 282-2038, 38degreesalhambra.com.
Just picture it: You're at the Century City shopping mall snapping up a St. John suit at Bloomies, a Tambour Forever watch at Louis Vuitton (at $3,480, it's a must-have), a pair of skinny jeans from Anne Klein, and then the perfect capper, saving some dough (and eating it) at a monument to all things bread, where the staff of life is lovingly re-created with only flour, water, leavening and salt. Refresh yourself weekdays 3-6 p.m. with a $6 Heineken or $4 Indica Pale Ale; or a $6.25 Dr. Loosen Riesling or $7.50 Cloudline pinot grigio — all dollars off. Hell, suck up a $6 Green Lumberjack with whiskey (yeah!), maple syrup and celery (regularly $10). You can't afford to pass up the $6 rustic millstone French-baguette grilled cheese or thin-crust pizza with bacon and caramelized onions. Hey, at these prices, you've actually defrayed the cost of the watch. Now about fitting into those skinny jeans. … 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (310) 277-3770. For other locations, visit breadbar.net.
The bar's slogan, “Sunday Nights Just Got a Little More Fraternal,” is rife with meaning, but without going into too much detail, at this serious sports bar you're destined to have a gay old time. And if you think it's stereotypical to believe that gays aren't down-and-dirty sports fans who spit and swear (well, maybe not spit), one night at this place and you'd be proved wrong. Weeknights 4-9 p.m. is the time for two-for-one deals that make good on any beers, call liquors or drinks priced lower than $8. When you buy a drink, you get a color-coded poker chip that reps what kind of free drink you're entitled to on the next round. 8737 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd. (310) 659-2004, gymsportsbar.com.
Ye Coach & Horses
It's what a bar should be: dark. Except for some otherworldly red hue, you won't be able to see your hand in front of you. That's a good thing, because this is where you might bring someone you don't want to be seen with in public. You might get groped here. Live with it. You'd think a place like this doesn't have a “happy” hour. But it does. Every day 4-8 p.m. 'cept Sunday. This British pub has a two-bucks-off policy. So domestic beers are $3 (even for a 25-ounce can of PBR), wells wind up at $5, house wines are $5, and 16-ounce pints of Guinness, Boddingtons and Strongbow are $5. That's it for fancy-ass. Want food? Order in from the Curry Palace next door. Late night attracts a trashy-cool crowd that likes to pretend they belong. But they don't. You do. 7617 W. Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 876-6900, yecoachandhorse.com.
McCormick & Schmick's
Even highfalutin studio types with expense accounts from nearby Disney, Warner Bros. and NBC take advantage of the deals they get from the frugally priced fish fare at this superior seafood chain. Relax at either of two classic bars any weekday, 4-7 p.m., for well-prepared fun food: Mondays and Fridays are $1 sliders, Tuesdays are a quarter-pound of shrimp for $3, Wednesdays are “buck a shuck” oysters, Thursdays are $1 fish tacos, and every day you can count on $1.95 tomato bruschetta, $2.95 half-pound cheeseburgers, $3.95 grilled salmon melt and $4.95 finfish poke. But there's a catch: a $3.50 drink per-person minimum. But that'll be easy with $3 PBR and Miller drafts, $12 pitchers, $5.95 house wines and $2 concoctions like Get Your Wiggle On — a $2 orange-peel Jell-O shot. The deals extend until 9 p.m. in the Game Room. 3500 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. (818) 260-0505. For other locations, visit mccormickandschmicks.com.
Nic's Beverly Hills
Slick men and pretty women congregate at Larry Nicola's stylish earth-green hang, where everyone sneaks a peek at everyone else. Tuesdays through Saturdays 5-7 p.m., and Mondays 5 p.m. until close, you can save big bucks with the $7 martini of the day. The entire appetizer menu is also at your mercy with $7 selections (regularly $9-$14) of artisanal-cheese plates, marinated skirt steak, vodka-cured salmon and Nic's fat, famous baked oysters. But Monday is Nic's Happy Hour Day, when all night long you can get $7 appetizers and a $7 martini special, as well as entrance to the Vodbox, a vodka-tasting freezer set at an ideal tasting temp of 28 degrees. There, while freezing your you-know-whats-off, you can sample two flights for $7 (regularly $21). 453 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 550-5707, nicsbeverlyhills.com.
The best thing about this incredibly well-stocked wine bar (with more than 800 unique varieties) is that the staffers will open any bottle — no matter what the price — if you've already purchased two glasses. The next best thing is the weekday happy hour, 4-7 p.m., when select drafts like Erdinger Hefeweizen, Fat Tire, Craftsman 1903 lager and a rotating IPA are $4 each (regularly $7-$9), select glasses of wine are $4, and there are hefty discounts on artisanal-cheese plates and choice charcuterie. It's for people who care about what they eat and drink. 3847 Main St., Culver City. (310) 836-9463. For other locations, visit bottlerock.net.
Secret: BottleRock employees aren't supposed to admit this, but during off-hours Culver City restaurant workers get together for a “pub crawl,” usually starting at BottleRock, ending at the next restaurant on this list, and sandwiching in this mandatory stop, which rates tops with them for food (their own restaurant notwithstanding). Deals take place 3-7:30 p.m. daily with $3 wells and house wines (usually $8), dollar-off Blue Moon, Fat Tire, seasonal Sam Adams and Sapporo, and $2 Hite Korean beer (all regularly $6). Fave cocktails are the $7 cucumber gingerita and Asian pear martinis (both regularly $9). But dig into fabulous Korean appetizers like $4 dumplings, $6 lettuce wraps (both regularly $9), $5 Seoul sliders (regularly $8) and curry crab cakes. Don't miss the taco trio, composed of spicy pork, flower chicken and bulgogi (marinated thinly sliced rib eye) for $6 (regularly $9). The expansive space, with gray leather–upholstered chairs and a sleek L-shaped bar, makes it even easier to enjoy. 9540 Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 838-3131, gyenari.com.
Kay 'n Dave's
When the BottleRock crew winds down, they do it at this Mexican cantina, where every day, 4-7 p.m., mini tacos are $1 and house margaritas, well drinks, Tecate on draft and house-made sangrias are $3. One BR bartender admits: “I have a $3 shot of Casadores tequila, a few tacos, a $2 Coronitas and it's 10 bucks.” The corn tortillas are homemade, and the spinach and chicken mole quesadillas, at $3 apiece, are hefty and primo. Bonus: The sound of the two flat screens is turned off. “This is not a sports bar,” says Jintana, charming cantina host and Dave's wife (Kay is long-gone). The lime juice is fresh-squeezed and that, she says, “makes all the difference.” 9341 Culver Blvd., Culver City. (310) 558-8100. For other locations, visit kayndaves.com.
Napa Valley Grille
Even though it's a block from the UCLA campus, you'll find nary a Bruin — unless it's a seasoned alumnus — indulging in the premium Napa wines and gourmet appetizers at this grand bar. But you will find patrons of the Hammer, which is kitty-corner, who need to cool their well-heeled heels Mondays through Saturdays, 3-7 p.m., and again 9 p.m.-midnight, as well as Sundays 3-9 p.m. Expect premium brands like Tunnel of Elms Chardonnay and Coastal Winery's pinot noir for $6, and $4 sangrias, Heineken, Corona Pilsner, Amstel Light and Bud Light, $5 well cocktails and the special $7 Napa Breeze with California sparkling wine, Malibu rum, pineapple rum and grenadine. Culinary delights include $2.50 for a Baja fish taco; $4 for a Kobe corn dog, $5 for a Napa chopped salad. 1100 Glendon Ave., Wstwd. (310) 824-3322, napavalleygrille.com.
CBS-Radnor employees bypass the bar across the street and head a block west to this slap-happy, homespun hangout, which offers 2-for-1 drinks daily, 3-7 p.m. You'll find 20 rustic beers on tap, like Arrogant Bastard, Drifter Pale Ale and Peroni. The food's not discounted, but the classic homemade Italian dishes will keep you from missing Mama too much. Check the site for Industry Nights, when all drinks are half-off until close. The patio buzzes on weekend afternoons, so if you'd like some company, this is the place. 12514 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 985-9876, roccostavernla.com.
This swanky, appropriately titled bar next to the L.A. Central Library is fittingly stocked with classic tomes for perusal. Evening draws in hip 25-plussers, but happy hour attracts the suit-'n'-tie set from the nearby courthouse and powerhouse law firms, weekdays 3-8 p.m., for select discounts: $4 Stella Artois beer, $5 Cosmopolitans, $5 margaritas and $5 Washington apple martinis. Food's not part of the deal, but at least you can breathe easy in this sophisticated space filled with high-level professionals, cushy leather sofas and a refreshing absence of lowlifes. 630 W. 6th St., dwntwn. (213) 488-1931, librarybarla.com.
If you want to take in real rock & roll history, this original Hollywood hang is the only place to go. Where else can you see a Janis Joplin–autographed table, or a plaque that says, “Jim Morrison used to sit here,” and sit there? Every day, deals last 4-7 p.m., with 18 domestic drafts (including New Belgium Mighty Arrow and Big Daddy Speakeasy IPA) for $2.75, $3 on the 12 import drafts, $3.50 wells, $12 domestic pitchers, $14 import pitchers and half-off (regularly $3.95-$8.50) hot wings, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. Breathe the same air that Hendrix once did. Play pool. Bump into Quentin Tarantino. Stay conscious. Or not. 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd. (323) 654-2287, barneysbeanery.com.
You've just exited the Hollywood ArcLight, and you've got a hankering for raw fish. Matsuhisa not within your range? End your evening with reasonably priced, dependable sushi and a nightcap at this reverse-happy-hour $1 Night Cap, Mondays through Thursdays, 9 p.m. to close, and Sundays, 8 p.m. to close. Order from Master Sake Sommelier Yuji Matsumoto's regularly priced sake, beer and wine list, and you'll get a second drink for a buck from selections that'll make you glad you snubbed Nobu: Sake Ka-Bomb (beer and sake); Shochikubai sakes; Gekkeikan Zipang Sparkling Sake by the bottle; Kirin draft beer; or a glass of Cedar Brook chardonnay, cab or choice of wells. Don't fret, regular happy hour still takes place weekdays 3-6 p.m., with a $4.95 Tokyo Mojito (regularly $7.95) and a $5.95 Saketini (regularly $7.95). 1545 N. Vine St., Hlywd. (323) 464-6003, kabukirestaurants.com.
It's a man's world at this sports bar and grill, so girly-girls shouldn't be disappointed if this cavernous, no-frills barn features only spilled beer, expletive shouting and one helluva good time when it comes to watching games on 11 flat screens and one projection screen. Two possibilities exist for getting inexpensively and happily shit-faced (oh, stifle yourself, surely everyone has a designated driver): Weekdays 6-7 p.m., it's half-price on already budget-priced beers and wells. There's half off 10 kinds of messy wings (regularly $6.79). The hair of the dog rises again 9:30-10:30 p.m., with $3 shots and half-price wells. 5047 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. (323) 930-1400, localssportsbar.com.
If you've been itching to try Top Chef winner Ilan Hall's bacon-wrapped matzo balls or Manischewitz-braised pork belly at his offbeat restaurant situated within the old Alexandria Hotel, happy hour isn't going to cut you a deal. However, you can save on drinks weekdays, 5-7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Four Angel City beers (the Abbey, Lester Young, Belgium IPA and India Pale Lager) on tap are half-off, as well as glasses of wine (regularly $7-$14) and bottles (typically $28-$48), all of which will help Hall's octopus gizzards go down more easily. Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn. (213) 488-3408, thegorbalsla.com.
Red, White + Bluezz
Dig: The notes don't play 'til 7, so get yo'self in the swing from 4 p.m. until then at this top-notch jazz spot with certified sommeliers on hand to serve a riff on all regular booze prices every day except Sunday. It's a fiver for wells, a dollar more for a unique selection of wines (including E-minor Shiraz from Australia and Tilia Malbec from Argentina), and three less (that makes 'em $3, hep cat) for scores of beers including Stella Artois, Widmer Hefeweizen and Blue Moon Belgian. But it's the $8 cocktail infusions that'll get you into the rhythm. Try the Louis Armstrong Island (Ketel One, Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi, Woodford bourbon, Cointreau and Coke), then segue into the eats: $6 Maryland blue crab cakes, $10 Korobuta pulled-pork san and $10 cheese and charcuterie plates. Then head for the music at the Grill, which is the whole damn point. 70 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena. (626) 792-4441, redwhitebluezz.com.
High-end hunger can be satiated in the most artfully sophisticated of ways at Michael Mina's opulent Philippe Starck–designed dining room. But it's the restaurant's vast outdoor terrace that sets the stage for a very different experience Mondays through Saturdays, 5-8 p.m. Pumped-in hip-hop serenades well-to-do hipsters who scarf up exec chef Steven Fretz's stellar appetizers at a generous 50 percent off, including baked potato pierogies ($8), baby-back ribs ($7), a trio of mini Kobe burgers ($9.50) and filet mignon with bone-marrow flan ($22). Designer cocktails are also 50 percent off, such as Scottish Mule or Rhubarb Fashioned ($7), along with $5 wells, wines and beers. You'll eat (and drink) like a king. 8117 Sunset Blvd., L.A. (310) 656-1414, sbe.com.
Cedd Moses — owner of several bars in our recommended 50 — seems to know what real drinkers want: whiskey. Here, at this manly bar, you can wile away the hours staring at stuffed jackalope heads on the walls while sipping your way through 271 varieties. Do so for $2 less on cocktails and spirits, and $1 less for beer and wine all night Sundays and Mondays; 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 4-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays offer half-off Maker's Mark for` the ladies. Oh, and no slobs. There's a dress code. 515 W. 7th St., dwntwn. (213) 614-0737, sevengrandla.com.
Mexico Restaurante Y Barra
Good food hardly ever enters the picture at Mexican restaurants, but here, at another Larry Nicola creation, this pretty-in-pink two-story colonial is not just another pretty WeHo face. Hot dishes are baked in a wood-burning oven for a robust and rustic Mexican flavor. Mondays through Saturdays, 5-7 p.m., you can scarf down $7 botanas (that's appetizers; regularly $9-$12) like al dente roasted corn and cream, a taco trio, grilled shrimp and duck taquitos. The $5 premium margarita special changes daily (regularly $12) and is made with fresh juices. Cervezas and drafts are knocked down a couple bucks. Nada on the wine specials. Here, you drink Mexican. 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd. (310) 289-0088, gogomexico.com.
Battered fried pickles are a must at this barbecue emporium, where on weekdays, 3-6 p.m., you can down $3 well martinis and wells (regularly $5.50-$7), $3 14-ounce draft beers, $5 22-ounce drafts and $3 cans, with $1 off all wines. It's the perfect opportunity to sample the American barbecue artistry that's been taking place in this kitchen for 64 years: $3 mini Andouille, pork and brisket sandwiches with fries (which typically go for $8.95), $4 ribs and fries, and those crazy pickles for $2. Jazz and blues hazily wafting through the sound system contribute to a down-home, Southern-style vibe. 808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena. (626) 799-3251, gussbbq.com.
Take to the “high” seas weekdays 4-7 p.m., when you can yo-ho-ho with your fellow landlubbers at this pirate-themed bar, where, any minute, you expect Jack Sparrow to pop out of the galley. With more fishnets, skulls 'n' crossbones, seashells and nautical paraphernalia than a San Pedro tourist trap, it all surprisingly works here. Nearby civic-center attorneys mix with L.A. Times staffers over dollar-off $6.50 wells, $5 draft beers, $3 Bud and Bud Light, and $2 PBR, and typical-yet-stellar half-price appetizers such as two mini sliders (2 mini sliders for $6, calamari for $4, and BBQ wings for $4). After 5 p.m., the city parking lots drop in price, so you'll have more doubloons to spend. 316 W. 2nd St., L.A. (213) 680-2600, redwoodbar.com.
If you're looking for “with six you get egg roll,” this is not the place for you. This is delicate, highly refined Chinese cuisine, created by Philippe Chow, no relation to Michael, but a renowned chef in his own right who worked at the Manhattan Mr. Chow for 25 years. You can settle in at the bar Mondays through Thursdays, 6-8 p.m., for $7 satays, wok-fried beef dumplings, Peking-duck spring rolls and pork-soup dumplings, along with $8 glasses of Coppola, Roederer Estate, Firestone and Valley of the Moon wines, as well as $9 lychee martinis, mojitos and signature cocktails. His Ty-Ku Asian liqueur martini is Pear-fection. 8284 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. (323) 951-1100, philippechow.com.
Caña Rum Bar at the Doheny
FYI: Caña is Caribbean for sugarcane, and Cedd Moses' rum lovers' heaven offers some sweet deals. Now, before you say, “Hey, wasn't that the Doheny, which cost an obscene $2,200 to join?” the answer is yes. So the sweetest part is that for a mere $20, which goes to charity and includes entrance to special events, you can enjoy the high-life too. Ambience is key inside this sexed-up, Gypsy-like velvet-and-silk caravan, which offers 140 rare, imported rums as well as their self-acclaimed world's largest collection of small-batch rums. Tuesday nights, a choice rum cocktail is $2; and all night on Mondays plus 6-8 p.m. on Tuesdays, cocktails and spirits are $2 less, beers and wines are reduced by $1, mojitos and daiquiris cost $6. Sit on the patio, light up a cigar and you're in Belize. 714 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A. (213) 745-7090, canarumbar.com.
A bacaro is a traditional Venetian wine bar, and while you may not feel like you're in Venice after sipping a half-off Valpolicella, you will forget you're down the street from USC. Sommelier Santos Uy's cozy, rustic bar specializes in Old and New World wines from off the beaten path. On Mondays, indulge in half-price glasses (regularly $6-$9); on Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5-7 p.m., a fiver will get you three-star Michelin-rated chef Lior Hillel's special plates (regularly $7), which include roasted-butternut-squash salad, cured meats and seared scallops. Every first Sunday of the month is Beefsteak Sunday, when, for two hours, you can drink all the wine and beer you want, accompanied by hanger steak, bread, butter and potatoes. 2308 S. Union Ave., L.A. (213) 748-6030, bacarola.com.
After a game at Staples, you can end your evening with John Sedlar's Latin cuisine and mixologist Julian Cox's award-winning drinks on Thursdays through Saturdays, starting at 10:30 p.m., when North Coast Brewing pilsner and pale ale, and Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen are $4. Thankfully, Cox's $10-$14 designer cocktails are scaled down to $7, since you might require a lift after a Lakers loss. To that end, order a Corpse Reviver (gin, Lillet, lemon and Cointreau). To complement the libations, Sedlar devised a special $7-$14 menu to include stuffed Spanish peppers with chorizo, confit duck leg, shrimp and pork tacos and braised short-rib tamales. Another bargain: Valet parking is $5 for two hours with validation. 1050 S. Flower St., dwntwn. (213) 749-1460, riverarestaurant.com.
If you want to play games, this is the place to do it. This lively bar has 'em all — Jenga, Taboo, Twister, Risk, Candyland, Dominos, Scattergories. A staffer will set you up with whatever's your pleasure. Not game? A projection screen can also keep your mind occupied, while you take advantage of weekday 5-7 p.m. specials. The food, thoughtfully composed and portioned amply, is roughly 40 percent off: Happy Carnival Dogs, a spin on the corn dog with chicken-apple sausage and a slew of interesting mustards ($5.50), seven-cheese macaroni ($5), and french fries with three dipping sauces ($3). Drink up $4 wells, $5 wines, $2 Tecate, and $4 on the impressive selection of other beers, including Black Butte Porter, Newcastle, Stone IPA, Lagunitas Pilsner and Shiner Bock. A fiver will get you the Kick A@! — the most potent Mai Tai this side of the Pacific. Yahtzee, anyone? 3413 Cahuenga Blvd., L.A. (323) 512-2500, henrys-hat.com.
“Ninety-nine-cent glasses of beer on the wall, ninety-nine-cent glasses of beer.” That may not be how the song goes, but that's what you'll be singing at this Japanese barbecue chain, where the bar takes center stage and Bud draft is under a buck. If that's insufficient, Sapporo draft is $1.49, hot sake $2, and all cocktails and house wines are $3. It's twice as nice with two happy hours a day, weekdays 5-6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. until last call, and weekends 4-6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. until last call. Wash it all down with $2.95 barbecue items, like pork kalbi and kalbi rib, and half-price appetizers: garlic shrimp and harami ($3.95). One catch: There's a $15 minimum per person. So stuff your face wisely. 24631 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 325-1437. For other locations, visit gyu-kaku.com.
These days, if you're not applying agave to reduce inflammation from a sore, you're probably self-medicating with it in some other way. It's easy to do here, at yet another Cedd Moses establishment. This Oaxacan-themed cantina is dedicated to two spirits of the agave plant: mezcal and tequila. Before beginning treatment, you should know that las perlas refers to the little bubbles, or pearls, that form on shaken drinks; more pearls means better-quality mezcal. Mondays through Saturdays, 7-8 p.m., mixologist Raul Yrastorza reduces his outrageously creative cocktails and regular spirits by $2; beers and wine by $1. The sooner you make your way through the more-than-80 tequilas and 25 mezcals, the sooner the pain will subside. Worm not included. 107 E. Sixth St., dwntwn. (213) 988-8355, lasperlas.la.
Pop Champagne & Dessert Bar
It's champagne! So pop your cork for the hell of it with a $4 mimosa or white peach Bellini (regularly $6-$7) Wednesdays through Sundays, 4-7 p.m., when you can consult with the on-site sommelier about the more than 200 varieties of champagne. If the bubbly's not your thing, be a poseur and suck up the champagne of beers — Miller High Life — for $3, draft beers (Chimay White, Negra Modelo) and two rotating imports (usually Belgian or German) for $4, and wines and sparkling varieties by the glass for $5 (regularly $6-$13). $4- $10 appetizers like Brie toast with chardonnay-soaked raisins, deviled eggs, and prosciutto with Medjool dates and melon are pared 20 percent. On Thirsty 33 Thursday, it's 33 percent off all bottles. 33 E. Union St., Pasadena. (626) 795-1295, popchampagnebar.com.
“Bartenders are rude at the Standard” (which doesn't have a happy hour, by the way). So says a handsome Weiland bartender, who requests to remain unnamed. If that's your take, double your pleasure with two happy hours Mondays through Saturdays, 3-7 p.m. and 10 p.m. until close, as well as Sundays, 5 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. until close, in this cool, clean hang underneath the Paul Hastings building, where their own specialty ales, ambers and blonds are served at $2.50 a crack. Corporate and law types face off against downtown locals for Thursday Trivia Night, which extends happy hour until 8 p.m. due to fierce competition for Weiland gift certificates and free drinking rounds. 505 S. Flower St., No. B-410, dwntwn. (213) 622-1125. For other locations, visit weilandbrewery.net.
Key to surviving hard times: food. That's why in-the-know Silver Lake–sters and outlying bargain-hunters manage to drag their hungry bods upstairs to the festive and colorful bar of this friendly Mexican cantina Mondays through Thursdays, 4-6:30 p.m. The food is free. And stockpiling is unnecessary. If you finish your quesadillas, chorizo nachos, chips and salsa, you can get more. But, of course, you are obligated to invest in some kind of spirit, possibly a 17-and-a-half-ounce margarita, made with Reposado tequila for $7.50 (regularly $9.75), or Tecate, Corona, Heineken, Bud, MGD and Miller for $4 (all regularly 75 cents more), or house wines at $4.50 (regularly $7). And did we mention the free food? 3701 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 666-5136, elconquistadorrestaurant.com.
Top Chef runner-up Marcel Vigneron, sought out for his culinary creations at Bazaar, is now satisfying foodie fans here at the former site of the much-missed Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton. There's nary a tiki in sight, but the room looks swell, with a gigantic gold chandelier and rich fabrics draped over come-hither lounges. On Thursdays and Fridays, 7-9 p.m., you can sample what Vigneron calls “modern global tastings,” which include $6.50 Kusshi oysters, $7 pork-belly sliders, $4 peewee potatoes with chlorophyll mayo, and $8 vadouvan lamb. Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Heineken and Coronas are $5, but delve into a $14 specialty cocktail for half off, like the Farmers Market with Dewar's 12, lime juice, agave nectar, orange bell pepper and basil. One swig, and you'll pronounce the bar's name correctly: two-one-oh! 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 887-6000.
Duuuuuude … this is the place where real surfers and wannabes hang 10 after catching waves. Between the effects of the sun and the weekday deals 4-7 p.m., the usually rowdy patrons may appear somewhat semiconscious inside this rockin', ramshackle beach shack at the pier. Bikini-topped girls are everywhere you turn sucking up $3.25 well drinks, $2-off beer pitchers and $1-off drafts. Half-price appetizers include $3.50 wings and jalapeño poppers, calamari rings and fried clam strips at $3.65. And on Sunday and Wednesday nights there's all the $1.95 tacos you can shove in your pie hole. There's also the beach equivalent of the Vodbox (see Nic's review), a 28-degree cooler called the Blizzard system to keep beer at its peak temp. 116 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach. (310) 376-7857, shellbacktavern.com.
The rumors about this bar's happy-hour specials are out of control. No, there are no more 35-cent drinks, no more free grilled cheese with a martini. But on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 5-7 p.m., you can plunk down $1 for a cocktail special, which changes nightly. It could be a Gin Ricky, Moscow Mule or funky daiquiri, no strings attached. Aside from that, it's a whopping 40 percent off cocktails (regularly $13), wine (typically $10-$16), beer (regularly $6-$10 including the ultrapopular Edison light) and wells. 108 West 2nd St., dwntwn. (213) 613-0000, edisonbardowntown.com.
Red Lion Tavern
German expats and Silver Lake locals with a hankering for frauleins bearing free food seek out this gasthaus und biergarten weekdays, 3-6 p.m., when 15 German beers, including Bitburger Pilsner, Hofbrau Lager, Oktoberfest Marzen and Spaten Optimator Doppelbock, are available by the half-liter for $5 (regularly $6.50). All libations are $1.50 off, however (priced $6-$8.50 during un–happy hours), giving you an approximate 20 percent off everything. The free grub changes daily and often includes lentil soup with German-style crackers and cream-cheese dip, chicken wings and chili 'n' onions. 2366 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 662-5337, redliontavern.net.
Cha Cha Lounge
After your German beers, end your day the multicultural way by stumbling across the street for a little Polynesian party at this happy, hippie hang, where local art is strewn across the walls and everyone kind of shows up as they are, even in PJs. The deals suit the starving artists, musicians and poets who come here, especially all night on Sundays, when the citrus Bloody Marys are $3.50, Mondays, when margaritas are $3, Tuesdays, with free foosball and $2 PBR, and every night 5-9 p.m., with $2 PBR and $2.50 wells. 2375 Glendale Blvd., L.A. (323) 660-7595, chachalounge.com.
Even though there's an on-site smoker that, to most, says “Southern barbecue,” dueling dynamics are at play at this beach-close downtown café that's equal parts calorie-conscious California salads and down-home pulled pork. It's at once stroller-friendly and lounge-lively every day, 3-7 p.m., when you can get your 'cue fix of $4 appetizers (regularly $7.95-$12) such as buttermilk-fried chicken wings, Southern crab cakes and pulled-pork sliders, as well as Cali fare like arugula beet salad, and mussels and clams washed down with $4 beers (regularly $5 and $6), wells (regularly $7) and house wines (most are $8-$12). 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 545-5405, memphiscafe.com.
You can belly up to this burger bar for chef extraordinaire Govind Armstrong's (of Campanile, Patina and Pinot) ground, gastronomical goodness but — horrors! — there are no budget burgers on his happy-hour menu. Don't despair. Twice daily on weekdays, 4-7 p.m., and again 10 p.m. until close (no second happy ending on Fridays), a special menu titled “4+4=” is rife with $4 deals that shave a few bucks off regular prices: bottles of beer including Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout, ACME IPA, Victory Prima Pils, Lost Coast Downtown Brown Ale, house wines, margaritas, Negroni, Cherry Vodka Sour, Moscow Mule, Greyhound and Blackberry Collins. You can still ingest Armstrong's worthwhile cuisine in the form of mini Kobe corn dogs, fried olives, deviled eggs and buffalo drumettes. Just no burgers. None. Nada. But with the money you saved, you could order one to split with a friend, at regular price. 7661 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 852-0008, 8ozburgerbar.com.
Where else can you see the Kardashians, Pink, Jessica Simpson and the Rock kicking back with their families on a sunny patio, eating chips and sucking down margaritas on the maid's night off? The West Valley's biggest and most popular pickup bar and upscale family spot has a massive, free food spread, weekdays 3-6 p.m., where, depending on the day's selections, you can shove all the egg rolls, beef, pork and chicken tacos, spaghetti and meatballs you can into your belly. Twenty flat screens are strewn about this Western-themed cowboy bar, which gets packed during happy hour for the $3 domestic beers, $4 imports, $4 wells and the legendary, kick-ass $4 margaritas. 23527 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas. (818) 222-6062, sagebrushcantina.com.
When is a taco not a taco? When chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger prepare their extraordinary Latin-inspired fare, culled from farmers markets, home cooks and street vendors all over the world. So when you bite into that $3 border taco (or any three for $8) on weekdays 4-7 p.m., you're getting a taste of native ingredients prepared with cooking methods used in that specific country. You're also getting menu items that can't be ordered individually during regular hours, like cilantro chicken, potato, chorizo, carnitas, barbacoa and carne asada tacos. And you're getting half-price mojitos ($4) as well as house margaritas, sangria and beer for the same. 445 S. Figueroa St., dwntwn. (213) 486-5171, ciudad-la.com.
In this industrial-chic gastropub, it's Venice Beach–comes-to-Redondo due to the talents of Brooke Williamson and Nick Robertson, the award-winning chef-owners of Venice hot spot Beechwood. Whet your whistle within walking distance of the pier where the price is definitely right weekdays 5-7 p.m., with $2 Hudson Ales, $4 mango margaritas and Cava cocktails, which are fruity fusions made with Spanish sparkling wine; as well as $5 glasses of select wines such as Sand Point Chardonnay and Koala Ranch Shiraz. Also easy on the wallet are highly creative appetizers: a hefty $2 pail of shoestring or sweet-potato fries (regularly $4); two $2 fluffy bacon-chive biscuits with spicy honey butter (regularly $5), and $3 beer-battered cauliflower fritters (regularly $6). 514 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach. (310) 798-9183, hudsonhousebar.com.
Bodega Wine Bar
What's with the prices at some of these establishments? It's $9 for a glass of pinot, $7.50 for chard, $8 for a cab. Fifty cents here, a buck there. Who wants to do arithmetic when you're trying to save a buck? Here, you'll appreciate the no-nonsense approach to saving money and enjoying the wine you really want: 12 whites, 12 reds, $9 a glass, $24 a carafe, $32 a bottle — with the exception of private and premium labels. To continue the simplicity, daily 5-7 p.m., and all night Sunday (closed Mondays), it's $3 off glasses, $7 off carafes, $8 off bottles, and $2 off beers. Soju Korean beverages are $6; calimochos (a Basque half-wine, half-cola concoction) are $4. Small-plate pizzas, pepperoni and cheese, and roasted fingerling potatoes are $5-$7. So don't worry about saving 50 cents by ordering the burgundy instead of the shiraz. Go crazy. 814 Broadway, Santa Monica. (310) 394-3504, bodegawinebar.com.
Townhouse Kitchen and Bar
Catering to the ArcLight crowd, this slick offshoot of the original Chicago restaurant brings high style to the otherwise typical chain fare in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. To sate you before and after you catch a flick, weekdays offer two happy hours, 4-7 p.m. and 11 p.m.- 2 a.m., with only late-night hours on weekends. Sit anywhere in the modern 7,000-square-foot glass-and-metal space and enjoy $4 draft beers, $5 on any wine priced $10 and under, including Coppola, Rodney Strong and Sebastiani, or any of a dozen superlative $5 (regularly $10) cocktail infusions such as the peppy Fire and Ice martini with jalapeño. Many food items are organic and/or house-made, so dig into $5 appetizers like roasted-red-pepper hummus with pita chips, crispy calamari, pizzalike flatbreads and a trio of fat pork-belly sliders. 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 453-9900, restaurants-america.com.
No happy hour list would be complete without including this king of karaoke bars, which, of course, keeps wannabes comin' back for more with free DVDs of their performance. After your half-assed attempt at “Desperado,” from 6-8 p.m. on any night but Sunday (closed), you can soothe your parched throat and crushed ego with dollar-off drinks that include wells (regularly $4 and $5), Bud, Bud Light, Miller, Miller Lite, MGD and house vino (regularly $4 and $5). The deals last all night for the ladies on Monday, and all night on Tuesday for men. Posing as the opposite sex is not permitted. 3413 W. Olive St., Burbank. (818) 842-2336, dimplesshowcase.com.
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