Food & Drink

The Best Happy Hour in 10 San Diego Neighborhoods

Published On 02/11/2015 Published On 02/11/2015
Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
Draft Mission Beach
Natalie Holtz
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1. Karl Strauss Brewery & Restaurant 1044 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037

Located right near the historic La Valencia Hotel, Karl Strauss La Jolla features a microbrewery with handcrafted special release brews, as well as top-notch pub fare.

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2. Davanti Enoteca 1655 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

This Italian mini-chain -- whose Little Italy location in San Diego is one of a few nationwide -- offers a fine selection of all your marinara-sauced favorites. Curated meats, craft cheese plates, and chicken liver pâté are popular shared options for groups, while Davanti's famed cheese curd-topped patties will thrill anyone looking for a new burger. The restaurant's patio -- lit up with twinkling lights -- is host to a regular evening crowd from happy hour through dinner.

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3. Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge 1015 Orange Ave, San Diego, CA 92118

A departure from conventional Coronado restaurants, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge is committed to serving food that changes with the seasons, part of a larger promise to keep things fresh, local, and sustainable. This means that presumably simple plates like buttermilk cornbread are intensified with bacon bits and blackened jalapeño butter, while scallops surprise with escorts of truffle-braised cabbage and roasted cauliflower. In addition to seasonal cocktails, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge serves red and white sangria, whose fruity profile brightens the husky, earthy flavors of the food.

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4. Cafe 21 750 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Extending their reach from 2121 Adams Ave, the twice-as-big, brick walled Gaslamp locale's outfitted with laser-cut metal, classic Turkish designs, and is serving up everything from sandwiches and kabobs to ridiculous, decadent brunch fare. There's a whole section of the drink menu devoted to Bloody Mary and Mimosa variations, giving you ultimate customization opportunities. Be sure to stop by for happy hour when there are 21 tapas to mix and match.

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5. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant 2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

This bar/restaurant combo offers up one of the best happy hours in San Diego, with a $6 bowl of truffled French fries, dusted with Parmesan and served with aioli for dipping. They’ve also got mini cheeseburger sliders for $3.75. The best bang for your buck, drink-wise, is the daily draft or house wine, priced at $5.50.

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6. Stella Public House 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

If a cocktail lounge/coffeehouse had a love child with a wood-fired pizza and craft beer restaurant, this is what you would get. Stella Public House and Halcyon are shacked up together in a 3,000sqft space on Island Ave Downtown, and San Diegans reap the benefits of this twofer establishment. With pizza, booze, beer, and coffee all under one roof, what’s not to love? Hydroponic basil (grown in tomato tins on top of the bar), house-made mozzarella, Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, and a crisp, light crust come together in perfect harmony on Stella’s picture-perfect margherita pie (the benchmark of any great Neapolitan-style pizzeria). But those with a taste for adventure will also enjoy some of executive chef Jade Griego’s more inventive creations. A carefully curated draft list stocked with 33 rotating craft beers and a patio overlooking the neighborhood’s newest park are two major bonuses of getting your fix here.

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7. The Smoking Goat 3408 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

Executive Chef and owner Fred Piehl’s French-American bistro fare is perfect when you want to enjoy a nice night out with solid food, great service, and a comfortable (not stuffy) atmosphere. Head to restaurant early and you can open your meal with happy hour specials like duck fat truffle fries, goat meatballs, and escargot au gratin before moving on to top-notch entrees like chicken, pork chops, and steak frites -- all priced very reasonably considering the quality of the cuts and expert preparation.

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8. Draft 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109

This Pacific Beach spot has approximately 70 beers on tap and over 50 bottles of beer, making Draft a great place to kick back on your way home from the beach. While you're sipping, try some snacks from the menu, which is comprised of sharing plates, like mustard dusted pretzel bites; grilled items, like the bison burger with poblano pepper and cumin mayonnaise; greens, like the seared ahi salad; and sweets, like key lime pie. Draft’s boardwalk patio is a picturesque spot to grab a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner bite with an oceanfront view, but if you want to catch the game, you’ll want to head inside to watch on one of the flat-screens.

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9. South Beach Bar & Grille 5059 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

Rumor has it that the best fish tacos in San Diego can be found at South Beach Bar and Grille, just a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean in Ocean Beach. Mahi tacos are served with cheese, red cabbage, salsa fresca, and white sauce, piled high on a soft flour tortilla (though corn tortillas are available upon request). The fish is so soft and moist it nearly melts in your mouth, and the teriyaki and pineapple marinade lend a tangy taste that will make your lips pucker. For the taco-averse, you can choose from a variety of fried seafood, like lobster, wahoo, shark, calamari, and shrimp, as well as burgers, chicken, and vegetarian options. Enjoy your dish and watch the sun set as you sip on a drink from the bar that offers 22 tequilas and more than 40 beers.