Sometimes you just need to get away from conference rooms, computer screens and the daily grind to connect with co-workers, vendors or business associates. Why not take care of business at an early happy hour, enjoying bargain drinks and snacks while you recharge? Here are seven happy hour spots that start early. Consider each a virtual office—at least for the afternoon.
Daily from 3-6 p.m.
When the Silicon Beach tech crowd needs an afternoon away from workstations, this casual Main Street eatery in Santa Monica is the hot spot of choice. During daily social hour, guests order discounted artisanal draft beers, local wines and seasonal bar bites in the front of the restaurant, then stake out first-come, first-serve seats either at a few indoor tables or on the outdoor beer garden-style patio, where heat lamps and a partially covered roof make outdoor dining a year-round option. Shareable snacks sourced from local farmers markets include avocado and roasted tomato toast, charred shishito, mac & cheese and smoked salmon with whipped chive cream cheese. Don’t miss the Flight and Fries, which includes a quartet of four-ounce beer samples and a side of herb Parmesan fries.
Sunday-Thursday, 2:30-6 p.m.
Located on the top floor of a 12-story building in San Diego’s Banker’s Hill, this classic French-American eatery offers cocktail hour in the bar and on its wraparound outdoor patio. “Our Cocktail Hour was created to get the late-lunch crowd to linger and enjoy a drink, especially on the scenic patio,” says Ray Thorsen, general manager. It’s drawn both business professionals and tourists, who appreciate a leisurely transition into the evening. Guests enjoy discounted local brews and wine and nibbles like Kobe beef or seared rare ahi sliders, croque monsieurs, jumbo black tiger shrimp cocktails and house-made chicken liver pate. There’s also a nice variety of specialty cocktails, including Mr. A’s 50th anniversary classic cocktail, a Hemingway daiquiri with blanco rum, Maraschino liqueur, fresh
lime and grapefruit.
E&O KITCHEN AND BAR
Monday-Saturday, 3-6 p.m.
Asian fusion fare, $1 oysters and dumplings and discounted specialty drinks like Sutter Punch (pineapple-infused Matusalem rum, pineapple gum syrup, lime) or the Blushing Geisha (El Jimador tequila, sake, prickly pear, lime) make this San Francisco eatery a happy hour favorite. Located near Union Square and the Financial District, the sleek, three-level restaurant attracts local workers who congregate at the bar, in the lounge or at table seatings. The spacious eatery can easily accommodate a large group, so bring the team and order the pu pu platter, which includes corn fritter bites, sliders, ribs, satay, pickled veggies, taro chips and ahi tartare.
FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD
Tuesday-Saturday, 2:30-5:30 p.m.
Originally located in the San Francisco Ferry Building, Ferry Plaza Seafood moved to a bigger space in North Beach, right off Columbus Avenue, several years ago. With giant windows overlooking Washington Square Park, the contemporary seafood establishment specializes in farm-to-table cuisine, and its happy hour is all about fresh $1.50 oysters, crispy fish and chips, flavorful mussels and fries and New England clam chowder. Wash down this quintessential San Francisco seafood fare with discounted champagne, wine, sangria or draft beers. The bar, which features reclaimed marble from the original restaurant, is relatively small, so if you’ve got more than a few co-workers in tow, grab a wooden table in the dining area.
OX & SON
Daily from 3-6 p.m.
Located on Santa Monica’s chic Montana Avenue, this modern American eatery offers a daily social hour that attracts “mainly locals winding down after a nontraditional workday,” says Ox & Son General Manager Colin McCarthy. While most opt to sit outside or at the granite-topped bar to nosh on house specialties like Kennebec fries with herbs and Parmesan or mussel and tomato chorizo poutine, McCarthy says tables on the restaurant’s back wall offer more privacy for those who may want to continue working. And with free Wi-Fi, it’s easy to power up your laptop while enjoying $2 off such draft beers as La Fin du Monde or Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout.
THE ROOFTOP LOUNGE, LAGUNA BEACH
Monday-Friday, 3-5 p.m.
Located on the roof of the Mediterraneanstyle La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach, this scenic outdoor lounge is the quintessential Southern California meeting spot, offering views of the beach and the Laguna hillside that are sure to induce envy in out-of-town colleagues. Whether meeting a group before a team outing to the nearby Pageant of the Masters or gathering for post-meeting cocktails, The Rooftop Lounge Happy Hour is the place to sip half-price signature fresh fruit mojitos, beer and well drinks, while enjoying bar bites like coconut shrimp, bacon-wrapped dates and burrata bruschetta with truffle oil.
Monday-Friday, 2–5 p.m.
Set in Downtown Disney, just steps from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, Tortilla Jo’s is a convenient stop for groups heading back to their hotels after a day of team-building at the happiest place on earth. Part of famed chef Joachim Splichal’s Patina Restaurant Group, the Mexican eatery also lures meeting-goers from the nearby Anaheim Convention Center for discounted beers, wine, sangria and “tequila del dia” margaritas, as well as delicious happy hour snacks like mini chorizo tacos, fresh fruit skewers and the Barbacoa “Puffadilla.” “The majority of the cantina is located outdoors,” says Karen Soto, general manager, “but we’re happy to accommodate happy-hour guests at tables inside the restaurant, too, when there is space.”