Couldn’t Be Happier: Local Happy Hour Deals

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By Connie K. Ho

No happy hour is the same. Sports bars like Rudy’s cater to fans with deals on sliders and beer, while waterfront restaurants like 21 Oceanfront drop the prices on staple seafood dishes. The variety and amount offered in our city may pose a challenge in determining where you and co-workers are headed after work, but for the best of the best, opt for hot spots that have become renowned for their cocktail programs—each with a particular advantage.

Hours on the Weekend

Happy hour isn’t just relegated to the workweek—find special menus on Saturdays and Sundays at select restaurants and bars. Swap Sunday brunch with happy hour at A&O Kitchen and Bar at Balboa Bay Resort. The gastropub’s U-shaped bar overlooks the harbor and there’s also an outdoor patio with fire pits. Highlights on the Beat the Clock happy hour menu include a rack of pork with homemade barbecue sauce and chicken wings with Indian raita yogurt dipping sauce. The happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m., but the prices vary based on the hour: offerings are $4 from 4-5 p.m., $5 from 5-6 p.m. and $6 from 6-7 p.m. (949-630-4285;

Other options:
Wildfish Seafood Grille (949-720-9925;
The Cannery (949-566-0060;


Cucumber Cobbler drink at Aqua Lounge | Courtesy of Island Hotel Newport Beach
Cucumber Cobbler at Aqua Lounge | Courtesy of Island Hotel Newport Beach

Long Lasting

Deciding to go to Aqua Lounge for happy hour means you won’t have to worry about not making it on time to take advantage of the deals; the Island Hotel lounge’s deals continue longer than most. From 3-7 p.m., seven days a week, the cocktails and bites menu is half-off. It’s worth paying for valet parking: The handcrafted drinks are made with local fruits and herbs and only premium liquors. Try the cucumber cobbler with fresh lemon juice, house-made ginger syrup, green apple and cucumber puree with coastal sage-infused Hendrick’s Gin. Another option you’ll want to order a second round of is The Boulevardier with The Duke bourbon whiskey, Campari and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth. (949-760-4920;
Other options:
Babette’s (949-715-9915;
Yard House (949-640-9273;

Short rib empanadas at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Short rib empanadas at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

A Night of It

Busy daytime schedules may cause you to miss most happy hours, but fortunately late-night specials are being added at a few Newport restaurants. At the end of 2014, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar at Fashion Island launched a fashionably late happy hour called 8 for $9 till 10. A selection of wines, cocktails and a la carte items are all offered for $9 each. Taking place from 8-10 nightly, guests can order a tasting flight of Rioja (Navardia, Bodegas Izadi and Torres labels) from the menu to pair with the short rib empanadas. (949-720-9633;
Other options:
Fig & Olive (949-877-3005;
Roy’s (949-640-7697;


Zov's | Photo by Jody Tiongco
Zov’s | Photo by Jody Tiongco

Drink and dine

In most circles of happy hour diners, more often than not, there’s that one person who isn’t drinking. Or after a long day, you’re looking for a complete meal rather than a few small bites—either way, find a spot where the sustenance specials are as tempting as the libations. Located in Newport Coast, Zov’s offers plenty for diners to nosh on. From vegetarian-friendly dishes such as potato rice fritters and a choice of mezze (think hummus or baba ghanoush) to hearty lamb and chicken kebabs, the happy hour food choices pair well with the cocktail menu. (949-760-9687;
Other options:
Sol Cocina (949-675-9800;
Bambú Lounge (949-476-2001;

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