Four years ago I moved back to Orange County and quickly realized that Happy Hour was a popular social event here…and kind of big deal. Working prior to this in Las Vegas nightlife, I didn’t really understand why all of my friends in OC constantly wanted to meet up for Happy Hour?
I always thought of Happy Hour as a little added bonus if you happen to be at the right place at the right time. Definitely not an occasion I would actually make my plans around and according to. So I started google searching “Best Happy Hours in Orange County.” Unfortunately at that time, I was not finding the information I wanted. Not many happy hour menus were posted on websites. I began to wonder if only locals were in the loop on where to go. I obviously missed that memo when I rejoined Orange County society.
FINDING A GOOD HAPPY HOUR
What I was looking for in an amazing happy hour is a good mix of cocktail and food options. Preferring quality over quantity. Location and ambiance are a huge part of the experience as well.
I spent most of my life in the hospitality industry so I guess I am slightly pickier than the average bear, but it probably makes me qualified to write about it.
Over the last few years I have hit up many Happy Hours in Orange County (there are seriously so many spots). I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but I have certainly tried!
In my long and boozy search for the perfect OC Happy Hour, I found the following…my Favorite Top 5. (See Below)
- Now that Summer is here…the busier all happy hours will be. Although we enjoy nice weather year around, people come out in droves to OC beaches and restaurants from May until September.
- Most importantly remember, after all, it is a discount your receiving so you should tip accordingly (like you are paying full price).
- Also don’t be a muppet and show up 5 minutes after Happy Hour is over and still expect to receive it.
- If you are looking for a more low-key, quiet happy hour…head in to happy hour towards the beginning of the week.
- If you like crowds and people watching… head in on a Thursday or Friday towards the end of happy hour and you will get what you came for.
Whichever Happy Hour spot you choose to catch, choose your company even wiser. These spots won’t disappoint, but your blind date might.
1. MESA, Costa Mesa
WHY-ITS THE HOLY GRAIL OF HAPPY HOURS…Mesa really has it all. Conveniently located near the hub of South Coast Metro it is situated inside the Camp. The food is yummy, the drinks are heaven, the bartenders are awesome, and Mesa just has that cool sort of ambiance. This sets the tone for a perfect happy hour atmosphere which also happens to bring a nice professional crowd. Inside Mesa you will find a retractable roof which gives you a nice breeze and outdoor feel…without actually being outside.
Big props to Mesa for mixing their cocktails for a half priced happy hour in the EXACT same way they craft them during regular business hours. With fresh juices and high quality spirits.
Social Hour: Tuesday through Friday 5pm to 7pm – $7 hand crafted margaritas, old-fashioned, manhattan’s, moscow mules, sangria, and aviations (all super solid choices). Try the shrimp or brussel sprouts-both served with chorizo…or Mesa’s Happy Hour pizzas…obsessed! 725 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626.
2. TANNER’S, Huntington Beach
WHY-THE SICK OCEAN VIEW, DRINKS AND BEACH VIBES Tanner’s Huntington Beach, located in HB, my all time favorite beach city…conducts their Happy Hour at the outside and upstairs Treehouse Rooftop Patio. Let’s face it, Rooftop Patio boozing is a summertime must and Tanner’s is the spot to do it! Located right next door to the newer developed community of Pacific City, Tanner’s is a part of the Pasea Hotel off Pacific Coast Highway just south of Main Street.
Go check out Tanner’s for the perfect date night during the week. Or meet up with friends to people watch on the weekend. Its idyllic setting and awesome surroundings are a must see.
Last time we visited, I enjoyed the mezcal craft cocktail the bartender whipped up for me. My Babe was stoked they had one of his favorite – hard to find – craft beers on draft available. Score!
Happy Hour: Monday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 7:00pm $5 beer, $8 wine, and $8 specialty cocktail of the day. 21080 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA, 92648.
3. Tommy Bahama’s, Laguna Beach
WHY-LOCATION AND DEPENDABILITY At Tommy Bahama’s every hour is happy hour, but from 3-6pm on the weekdays, catch some of my all time fave. Tommy Bahama’s is nestled on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Laguna Ave, in the beautiful downtown area of Laguna Beach. The food and drink at this island inspired restaurant are tasty. I consider it an oldie but a goodie. The happy hour includes Tommy Bahama staple PuPu’s (Hawaiian meaning appetizers); coconut shrimp served with island slaw, and macadamia encrusted goat cheese.
A big bonus is that TB’s is so centrally located, you can walk to the beach and watch the sunset or even bar hop to places like the next door rooftop, Skyloft. Tommy Bahamas also has a sister property in Newport Beach, offering the same great happy hour 7 miles north, on the border of Corona del Mar.
Aloha Hour: 3pm-6pm Monday to Friday well drinks, beer, and wine all half off. Select small plate options with happy hour prices including my 2 favorites (see above). 400 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651. 854 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA, 92660.
4. SOL Cocina, Newport Beach
WHY-FOOD AND VIEW Did someone say Mexican food? Count me in! SOL Mexican Cocina sits on the waterfront overlooking the stunning Newport Beach harbor. As you walk into Sol and look to the left, you set your gaze on an extensive display of tequila and mezcal bottles behind the bar. Street tacos, grilled corn, and guacamole are all on deck for happy hour.
Anyone who knows me can tell you this is all music to my ears.
Sol has a very popular weekend brunch perfect for crowd watching and meeting up with friends. Check out the ever so trendy So CAL tradition of “Taco Tuesday” at Sol. With live music and food plus drink specials all day 3pm until closing…on Tuesdays of course.
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday from 3 pm – 6 pm. Sips and Eats Happy Hour prices ranging from $3-$9. 251 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA, 92660
5. The Corner, Huntington Beach
WHY-THE FOOD IS BEYOND My mouth is watering just thinking about this cozy farm to table spot. Located in an unassuming strip mall off of Beach Blvd, the chef owned and operated Corner in Huntington Beach is sure to please. Unless you have heard of this place, you probably will not stumble upon it, but if you do consider yourself lucky. Every single thing I have eaten here has been absolutely delicious. I tend to eat dinner early so I have only hit the happy hour here by accident, which is easy to do considering they have a 4 hour happy hour window. My Mom is even obsessed with the Corner. She’s picky and an old school meat and potatoes type of gal, so to see her eating newer generation, sort of hip food (which is way out of her comfort zone), warms my heart.
The Cocktails look very tasty here. Unlucky for me, I somehow always end up the designated driver to the Corner= meaning I have not had the opportunity to try the mouth-watering looking adult beverages…yet. I heard they were delightful. I am taking an Uber or a Lyft next time for sure!
Happy Hour Daily 3pm to 7pm on certain food and drink. Must try non Happy Hour items = tuna tartare tostadas and calamari steak piccata. 8961 Adams Ave, Huntington Beach, CA, 92646