South Bay's Best Happy Hours
Cheap Eats And Drinks At Beach Bars And Restaurants
The smilng Jerika keeps customers happy at American Junkie.
By PubClub.com Bar Reviewer And South Bay Local The Bar Blogger
Discounted drinks and diminutive dinners. A social setup mixed better than a martini.
Happy Hours have been around seemingly forever. It's just that now with layoffs, the recession and issues with the economy, professionals are having to live a little like college students again.
The South Bay has lacked a one-spot "go to" Happy Hour destination since the demise of Tequila Willie's more than a decade ago. What the beach cities of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo now offer are a chorus of choices, each distinctive in its own crowd and atmosphere. It's more like a full-course menu rather than a single appetizer. But which spots have the best Happy Hours?
This article hss the answers. It was updated in February of 2013.
Sometimes, Happy Hour at places like Shellback last past Happy Hour.
PubClub.com's criteria in judging the Best Happy Hours is simple: Establishments that combine Happy Hour deals with a ripe social atmosphere that also has the staying power to keep people in the bar after the food and drink specials have expired. They combine the come-hither attraction of a sex symbol with the substance of a Super Bowl champion.
Most of these places are at their peak on Friday from 5:30-7. But that's not always the case and other popular nights are noticed and noted. Be sure and see the section on weekday specials, a look at which locations have what on given days of the week.
For this article, PubClub.com has examined four areas: Hermosa Beach, downtown Manhattan Beach, El Porto (or North Manhattan for you newbies) and what is referred to as the "Rosecrans corridor," the lineup of restaurants along or near Rosecrans just east of PCH.
Generally speaking, the Hermosa Beach Pier gets the youngest crowd (20s to mid-30s), the Rosecrans corridor and Redondo Beach have mid-30s and up professional,s and downtown MB and El Porto have a combination of both age groups and lifestyles.
And if this is not enough, PubClub.com has this separate article that details food & drink specials every night of the week. Ahh, life in the South Bay.
Agree with these choices? Disagree? Have any thoughts, suggestions or comments? Send us an e-mail and we'll post it.
• #1 HAPPY HOUR – SHARKEEZ
The drink specials with fun patrons and atmosphere make Sharkeez #1.
The true measure of a great Happy Hour is how long people stay after the Happy Hour has expired. The Sharkeez nickname of "The Black Hole" is derived partly for this reason – people go in for a couple of cheap drinks and wind up staying until closing time. The near two-for-one drink specials apply to almost every beer and liquor (except top-shelf), Sharkeez is known for it's lively crowds. Hermosa tends to be younger 20s to mid-30s and some start late afternoons on the patio.
Fridays at the Manhattan location get after-work people who pause for a few drinks on their way home from a long week. There may also be a work gathering, a bachelor or bachlorette party or just a group of friends who have come together to act a little crazy.
Sharkeez is also a prized sports bar and since many championship games (BCS, NCAA hoops, NBA, World Series) start at 5 p.m., it's a pretty cheap place to watch the big games.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-7 p.m.
Specials: By any drink and get a second for 25 cents, and this is good on just about anything: individual drinks, pitchers, even buckets. The Happy Hour food menu includes a fish taco, rolled lobster "cigars," fish, wings and more from $2.49-3.75.
Best Food Choice: Crispy lobster cigars ($3.75)
• #2: AMERICAN JUNKIE
People load up on their beers during Happy Hour at American Junkie.
Right next to Sharkeez is the largest bar in the Hermosa Pier area. And that means you might stand a chance of getting a table outside on a nice day or pleasant evening. But the real attraction – other than the bartenders – are the $3 drinks. That's every beer behind the bar, including Stella Artois and the potent Bud Light Platinum. That's every day of the week, including weekends!
In addition to the drinks, there are food specials such as $2 tacos on Thursdays and 8 bucks for a burger and a beer, or 12 bucks for a pizza and a pitcher on Tuesdays.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 3-7 p.m. Reverse Happy Hour M-T, 11 p.m.-1 a.m.
Specials: $3 beers , well drinks and house wines, $5 specialty cocktails, $8 32-ounce "Junkie cups" and Lil Pepes.
• #3: SAINT ROCKE
The Baja tacos are a a popular Happy Hour choice at Saint Rocke.
The place is so beautiful it's hard to believe it was ever an old dive bar, the Pitcher House. It's nice decor and live music bring in people for Happy Hour and keep them afterward. Some people say Saint Rocke is their top Happy Hour choice. The best nights are Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 5-7:30 p.m.
Specials: $5 on all food and drinks. Food items includes Kobe beef (and grilled chicken) sliders, chicken tacos and calamari,
Best Food Choice: The Kobe burgers are the most popular item but also consider the Baja tacos.
• #4: FISH BAR
It's actually hard to tell this used to be Sharkeez. It's now a Tommy Bahama-type of beach-casual-sophisticated restaurant and bar with outstanding food (mostly seafood). At great prices. And a solid Happy Hour with $3 drinks. The margarita is outstanding, one of the best in the South Bay, and for three bucks you can't beat that anywhere else in town.
Good luck finding a seat at the bar on Friday evening.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-6 p.m. Reverse Happy Hour Sunday-Thursday, 9:30-midnight.
Specials: $3 domestic beers, house wines
and well cocktails, $5 Absolut cocktails.
• #5: FLEMING'S
The cheeseburger with a $3 Stella at Fleming's Steakhouse.
The draw here is simple: It's a hamburger.
And that leads to its drawback: It's so popular it can be difficult to get a seat to enjoy that hamburger.
Actually, it's really a bacon cheeseburger, and it's made with high-quality meat, comes with a couple of large onion rings and a mini-wedge of lettuce. In other words, it's a full meal.
Served in the quaint bar area, it comes with $6 wine or cocktails and there's always a $3 draught beer (this rotates and the taps include Stella Aritos, so it's high-quality offerings).
Happy Hour Specifics: 5-7 p.m., seven days a week (including holidays).
Specials: Five to seven, meaning five different cocktails, wines by the glass and appetizers, until 7 p.m. $6 each, plus a $3 draught beer of the day. In addiiton to the burger, appetizers include lobster tempura, calamari, Cajun BBQ shrimp, roasted mushroom ravioli and French Onion soup.
Best Food Choice: Fleming's Prime Burger ($6).
• #6: PATRICK MOLLOY'S
It's location on the Hermosa Beach Pier and next to Sharkeez make this an ideal spot for Happy Hour. The small patio is popular on nice days and evenings (which are most of them) and the staff is always smiling. The drink specials are good – $3 Stellas for example – and goes until 8, an hour later than its next door neighbor. There are several food choices in different price categories. While the menu is extensive, only a few items are really good so ordering the same three or four items can be a bit "routinish" after a few visits. It's also not quite the social beehive of its neighbor to the east.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-8 p.m.
Specials: Half-priced drinks (all but premium). The food menu has choices for ranging from $2,95-5.95 (note the $4.95 burger does not include a side). Request extra sauce for the pepperoni pizza.
Best Food Choice: Hermosa skewers ($5.95).
• #7: MANGIAMO
Half-priced wine and good food are only part of the allure of Mangiamo.
A classy place with the "fish bowl" window looking out over the Pier and the foot traffic of Manhattan Beach Blvd., this Italian restaurant is a very good call for Happy Hour in the South Bay.
It has an array of excellent wines for half price and half-priced beer, as well. The bar brings in people mostly in pairs (sometimes, but not always, couples) and locals have a great rapport with management and the bartender. It's not unusual for all the stools and seats to be taken at Happy Hour, so it's advisable to be among the first to secure a coveted spot, for this is an intimate place in a classy, cozy but also beach casual environment.
The quality of the vino served here makes the drinks a great deal; the menu is good but unlike many other Happy Hour places the items are priced more to savor than to move.
In addition to the weekday Happy Hour, Mangiamo also has Pasta Night on Sundays (chef's special w/salad for $18) and Lobster Fest on Mondays (1 1/4-pound lobster dinner, $25).
The Tiger prawns and tuna tar tar are popular menu choices.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 5-6:30 p.m.
Specials: Half-priced wine by the glass and beer. Happy Hour Menu. Braised short rib quesadilla ($8), tuna tar tar wiht crispy shallots ($10), grilled Tiger prawns ($9), mac & cheese ($8), goat cheese brushetta.
Best Food Choice: The grilled Tiger prawns aresauteed in garlic butter with red chili peppers, but the real prize is the least expensive item on the menu: The goat cheese brushetta.
• #8: MEDITERRANEO
It has one of the bigger of the relatively modest patios on the Hermosa Beach Pier. And it's usually full for its very loyal locals who love the half-priced tapas for Happy Hour.
The food quality is good and the ambiance is ideal for groups who want to gather together. It's not necessarily ideal for mingling; the reason for that is most people are in small groups and are having too good a time together to pay attention to the other tables. The problem with Mediterraneo's Happy Hour is that some of its best taps are not on the Happy Hour menu. A prime example of this is the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 5-7 p.m.
Specials: Half-priced tapas (not ALL tapas; the severs are good about pointing out which ones are included and which ones are not), half-priced draft beer and house wine.
• #9: WATERMAN'S
This Polynesian-themed bar – a favorite of PubClub – on the Hermosa Beach Pier has a killer deal. That's because it has premium beers at incredible prices. How's a coveted Longboard Lager for just $2.75. Plus Stella, Drifter and more. And they are served in a tall, real glass! It's awesome, that's what it's like, folks.
When the weather is nice – and there's an average of 325 days of sunshine in L.A. – the place to enjoy these great brews is on the patio with a view of the Pacific and others on the Pier Plaza.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-7 p.m.
Specials: Half-priced drinks, including premium draught beers.
• #10, ESTABLISHMENT (FORMERLY BLUE 32)
The sliders at Establishment are a great call for Happy Hour.
The friendly lounge by the sea has great food and a calm coolness about it in a lounge atmosphere. What's best, arrive by 7 or 7:30, load up on the appetizers and drinks, and be set for when the place gets cranking by 9ish on Thursdays and Fridays. You're already in, settled, and on your way to a great night.
Happy Hour Specifics: Tuesday through Fridays from open until 7:30 p.m.
Specials: $5 appetizers and 2 for 1 drinks.
– MORE GREAT SOUTH BAY HAPPY HOURS! –
Shark's Cove makes people happy by having specials that start after 8 p.m.
• CHEESECAKE FACTORY
This location alone makes this a desirable place for Happy Hour. Too bad too many people don't seem to know about it (at least yet!). Cheesecake's restaurant his highly popular but hardly anyone turns right to go to the bar when they enter the building. It's a large, open and bright bar and the Cheesecake is in a prime Redondo Beach location, right along the boats in King Harbor (the restaurant is on Harbor Drive between the Hermosa border and the King Harbor parking lot entrance).
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-6 p.m.
Specials: $5 beers, cocktails and select appetizers.
Cozymel's is the only cantina in the Rosecrans area. Some Happy Hour regulars scoff at the place, feeling it's not as nice as the other places. But it has a great setup with an outdoor patio and fireplace. And of course, it has margaritas! The house ones are okay, a bit of a "corporate pour" but made with fresh lime juice and not a mix. Put this one under "plenty of potential."
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-7 p.m.
Specials: $3.50 house margaritas ($4.50 large size), $2.25 domestic beers, $3.25 imported. Food includes nachos and quesadilla ($6.25)
Best Food Choice: Shrimp Flameado. It's shrimp in a cheese sauce that's set on fire, and it comes with three tortillas ($5.25)
• McCORMICK & SCHMICK'S
For a long time, this was the "happening spot" among workers in the Rosecrans corridor. It still gets a crowd but the problem is that there is little mingling going on between people at the tables and at the bar. The patio is a better place to hang. The food specials are the place's calling card and some local businesses receive $20 food and drink coupons. So you may see someone you know here. As an additional bonus, PF Chang's is across the street and while it has no Happy Hour specials, it makes for a nice change of pace to bounce between the two places. It's impossible to beat the cheeseburger bargain at McCormick's but the tab can add up quickly with drinks. For instance,PubClub's tab for two appetizers and three beers was $22.78.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-6:30 p.m. 9-11 p.m.
Specials: No drinks specials, only food. Menu includes quesadillas, wings and a Cajun chicken sandwich.
Best Food Choice: The cheeseburger. A 1/3 pound full patty with fries.
• SALT CREEK GRILL
An elegant restaurant in the El Segundo Plaza, the Salt Creek Grill is one many places along the Rosecrans corridor that attracts the true Happy Hour crowd – those who come in after work for a few cheap(er) drinks and food before heading home or elsewhere for the night. The largest of the Happy Hour bars, Salt Creek offers a soothing setting to set the weekend mood with a living room setting by a fireplace, a comfortable patio, spacious and classy bar area, and live music (though it's a bit too loud, making mild conversations challenging). There's free wireless Internet for those who want to get in a bit of business before the tables and barstools are taken. The mingling area is on the couches and the best nights are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Happy Hour Specifics: 4-6:30 p.m., seven days a week.
Specials: $4 draft beers, Half-priced wines by the glass (Salt Creek has some excellent choices) $5 well drinks. Additional specials are 1/2-priced mini-bottles of wines (Monday, 4-close) and wines by the glass (Wednesday, 4-close) and $8 martinis (Thursday, 4-6:30). Food menu includes cilantro lime tacos ($6), Creek sliders ($7) and stuffed jumbo shrimp ($8) all the way up to an ahi tuna stack ($18).
• SHARK'S COVE
This sports bar becomes live music venue. The Happy Hour is combined with daily specials, a couple of which don't kick in until after 8 and go until closing, making it a welcome change from the rush to get in that order the minute before Happy Hour ends. The bar is a great place to sit if it's open because the bartenders are accommodating and readily engage in conversation. There are 18 beers on tap, including craft brews.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 3-7 p.m.
Specials: $4 beers, wells and house wines. The appetizer menu is limited with 50-cent wings and a $7.95 combo platter (wings, Jalapeno poppers, nachos, fries) but there are daily specials click here for details.
Best Food Choice: Wings.
• SHELLBACK TAVERN
The legendary beach dive at the pier is an ideal off-the-beach bar. It is particularly popular in the summer months and when the volleyball classes end at sunset as many players make a stop in Shellback a priority. For some long-time locals, this a second home for Happy Hour regardless of the season or the reason.
Happy Hour Specifics: M-F, 4-7 p.m.
Specials: $3.25 well, $2 off pitchers and $1 off all draft. Half-priced appetizers include wings ($3.50), crispy tacos ($3) and chicken quesadillas. ($4).
Best Food Choice: Chicken quesadillas.
This fun and friendly restaurant in Riviera Village has a very local following for Happy Hour by about a half-dozen regulars. And you should join them on occasion, too, for Zazou has great food and the appetizers are on the Happy Hour menu. Those appetizers include a pair of meatballs the size of baseballs and they are delicious.
Happy Hour Specifics: Sunday-Thursday, 4-7 p.m.
Specials: $5 wine and appetizer specials (all under $10).
Best Food Choice: Meatballs.