From pilsner and pretzels to oysters and cocktails, mix up your next night out at these eateries.
A global pandemic, remote work and ongoing instability in the restaurant industry have contributed to a shift in the typical bar and restaurant business. But as we return to a sense of normalcy there has been a revival of one of my favorite phrases in the English language: Happy hour!
Happy hour provides the perfect opportunity to hang out with friends and co-workers over discounted food and drink. It’s the time of day when work duties are done and evening obligations haven’t yet begun.
There is no shortage of happy hour offerings on the Peninsula, but finding them without stumbling upon a sidewalk sign can be surprisingly difficult. Therefore, I scoured the Peninsula to find a diverse selection of some of the best happy hour deals in the area. Below are seven sensational happy hour options in the 650. All of these places offer not only enticing discounts on libations, but also tasty deals on food items. Each location includes a recommended pairing.
7 Mile House, Brisbane
Happy hour: Every day from 3-6 p.m. (closed Tuesdays)
Deal: $7 shots, classic cocktails, draft beers, house wine and appetizers
7 Mile House is a historic, award-winning, family-run bar and grill offering standard pub grub along with Filipino dishes. Bartender Sahrai Cervantes stated simply that 7 Mile House is “the spot on the northern Peninsula” for happy hour. Regulars comfortably park at the bar and seem to know a majority of the people who enter the restaurant. The stoic location and rich history (7 Mile House was built circa 1858) make drinking here feel like an event.
The drink specials at 7 Mile House are fairly standard offerings, such as shots of Jameson and lowballs of whiskey sour. The food offerings are the star here, with specials that include garlic fries and zucchini sticks. I opted for the Pinoy-inspired pulled pork adobo sliders paired with a classic Cuba Libre. You can’t go wrong pairing rum and Coke with adobo sauce slathered pork!
Hashes & Brews, San Bruno
Happy hour: Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
Deal: Discounted $6 draft beer, house wine, well drinks; $7-$9 appetizer specials
Hashes & Brews claims on its website to have a passion for two things: “great food and great service.” Upon first impression the great service is palpable. They don’t have dedicated bartenders, but I was gleefully greeted by Crystal Esparza, who works as a hostess/server/busser/bartender. She told me that “business hasn’t come all the way back since the pandemic” and it was evident by the mostly empty restaurant. However, as I sat at the bar she greeted several regulars by name and you could feel the classic “Cheers”-like vibes.
They offer a notable amount of local beers on draft alongside wines by the glass and well drinks. I went for my go-to in these situations, Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale, and paired it with the chicken souvlaki skewers. The owner is Greek and offers a menu with a Mediterranean flair. The chicken skewers were cooked to garlicky perfection and paired well with the pale ale.
Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse, Burlingame
Happy hour: Monday-Thursday from 3-5:30 p.m.
Deal: $4.50-$6.50 beer, $7-$9 wine, $7 spirits, $8-$10 house cocktails and $6-$12 appetizers
Kincaid’s is part of a boutique national chain with one location in Redondo Beach and two other locations in Minnesota. The Burlingame location complements classic American fare with beautiful views of the Bay. Happy hour is offered in the bar and lounge area and includes an impressive selection of food and drinks. The large lounge area wasn’t very full when I was there, but bartender Leticia Ramirez told me that business has been picking back up and that the crowd typically consists of “half regulars and half Facebook crowd,” alluding to the returning employees at the neighboring Facebook offices. The waterfront location and elegant decor make Kincaid’s stand out among other options in the area.
Kincaid’s offers draft beer, a nice selection of wines by the glass and some interesting house cocktails. Most impressive are the food items that include elevated plates such as crab and artichoke tots, Baja-style fish tacos and prime rib sliders. Ramirez recommended the decadent hot crab and artichoke dip. I paired it with a Rose Colored Lenses cocktail made with Malfy Rosa Gin, Aperol, Reàl Passion Fruit Purée and lime.
Avenida Restaurant, San Mateo
Happy hour: Monday-Thursday from 4-6 p.m. in the entire restaurant and Friday-Sunday from 4-6 p.m. in the bar, patio, and parklet only
Deal: $3 off signature and seasonal cocktails, $10 off carafes of cocktails, $2 off bottled beer and $8-$12 appetizers
Avenida is a modern Filipino restaurant and bar inspired by the dynamic streets of old Manila. Located on a corner of 3rd Avenue in San Mateo, it is a vibrant space with an art deco style. In contrast to most of the other locations on this list there aren’t many regulars or co-workers filling the bar seats. Instead, Avenida is more likely to be “filled with families,” according to bartender Adriana Lopez.
Avenida’s food and drink options are robust with Filipino flavors. The signature cocktails include a Black Pandan Old Fashioned, Spiced Trade Sangria and Calamansi Tonic. The small plates include Filipino favorites like tortang talong, mushrooms al ajillo and shrimp gambas. I opted for the iconic Lumpian Shanghai paired with the approachable Pinoy Punch, but everything here is delicious!
Rustic House Oyster Bar and Grill, San Carlos
Happy hour: Monday-Friday from 2-5:30 p.m.
Deal: $3 off beer, wine, and menu cocktails, $7-$9 appetizers and $2 chef’s choice of oyster
Rustic House Oyster Bar and Grill offers quality seafood in a casual and unique environment. The vibe and decor feels more like the coastal south than San Carlos and the atmosphere is fun and energetic, which lends itself to a perfect happy hour setting. The location on El Camino means less foot traffic than spots in downtown San Carlos, so “promotions like happy hour, live music, and our loyalty program are helpful to bring people in,” according to general manager Lana Flatt.
Rustic House has a long list of menu cocktails such as the Rustic Margarita, Southern Heat and Fisherman Sangria. Crispy calamari, ceviche, and fish and chips highlight the food menu. However, the obvious choice is in the name of the restaurant and I ordered a dozen of the $2 chef’s choice of oysters (this day’s choice was from Pickering Pass, Washington). According to bartender Camryn Collins, the Blackberry Old Fashioned is one of the most popular cocktails on the menu and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Rustic House Oyster Bar and Grill, 920 El Camino Real, San Carlos; 650-394-4534.
LV Mar Tapas & Cocktails, Redwood City
Happy hour: Every day from 3-5 p.m.
Deal: $10 classic cocktails, $40 carafes of cocktails, $5 bottled beer, $30 buckets of beer, $5-$28 appetizers and $2 oysters
LV Mar is a modern and comfortably upscale Latin restaurant located in downtown Redwood City. Instead of focusing solely on one country’s cuisine, the eatery encompasses a large swath of Latin flavors to create some truly unique bites. Dishes come together as an infusion of flavors from Mexico, Spain and Central America. LV Mar focuses on happy hour to entice new patrons to try out these delectable offerings.
Classic cocktails such as the mojito, paloma and sangria are elevated with quality ingredients and housemade juices. The botanitas (small bites) include Latin-inspired dishes such as ceviche, torta Cubana and various tacos. I recommend the expertly balanced classic margarita paired with the papas birrias, which is a decadent mix of seasoned fries, braised beef, melted cheese and salsa roja.
Ludwig’s Biergarten, Mountain View
Happy hour: Tuesday-Friday from 2:30-5 p.m.
Deal: $3 off all beer and $3-$20 appetizers
Ludwig’s Biergarten has been serving beer on Castro Street in downtown Mountain View since 2019. There is a small interior and a large outdoor biergarten full of long communal tables in the European tradition. Happy hour is typically a bustling time at Ludwig’s, according to bartender Joshua Anthony Perez, adding that the clientele is an eclectic mix of “tech workers, local regulars and industry people from other bars and restaurants.”
Ludwig’s has an assortment of interesting cocktails and wine in addition to a large selection of imported and local craft beers. Beers are available in different sizes and include German staples like Fruh Kolsch alongside beers from local breweries like Barebottle and Native Fermentations. The food offerings include German-inspired fare such as Spätzle Käse Kroketten, Käiserkrainer Bites and Jäger Fries. I recommend keeping it classic with a half-liter of Veltins Pilsener and the Ofenfrische Brezen (imported pretzel).
This article ends here but my search for even more happy hours does not. I’m hopeful that the happy hour culture returns in full force because while the food and drinks are discounted, what we get for free is the priceless connection with co-workers, friends, family and our community. Cheers!