Is happy hour an occasional thing you enjoy or are you a regular somewhere? When you think about it, happy hour is no longer just an hour to enjoy after a work day.
No, these days happy hour is generally several hours long. Occasionally, it even runs all day and in some places happens seven days a week.
The next time you’re looking to get a drink with a friend or score a low-priced meal at a good restaurant, here are several happy-hour gems right in our back yard.
The bartender doubles as the server at this Clayton favorite. When we arrived at 5 p.m. on a recent weeknight, the bar seating was packed, but the five tall tables were empty.
Pavillion's happy-hour menu offers a number of cocktail specials ($4.95), well drinks ($4.25), and regular and premium draft beers ($2.75 and $3.75).
Appetizers are bargain priced at $3.95 to $7.95. Not intentionally, we chose a garlic theme that night, ordering garlic fries, shrimp scampi and bruschetta.
All were tasty, but the scampi was the clear winner—with large, sweet shrimp in a lemony butter sauce.
I did get the impression that Pavilion is still getting used to happy hour—and it would probably simplify things if there were a happy-hour menu on every bar table.
Ask for the happy-hour menu, which is served from 3 to 6 p.m. daily in the bar.
This Concord hub was busy and loud when we walked in on a Tuesday at 6 p.m. In fact, it looked as though one waitress was responsible for 13 tables. But service was friendly and didn’t suffer.
Here, happy hour means $2 off all appetizers (except chips and salsa), and $1 off beer and wine.
There are more than a dozen draft beers to choose from, and six each of red and white wines by the glass.
There also are plenty of appetizers that, with a discount, range from $3.95 to $8.50.
We chose the “hot” Alehouse buffalo wings (eight to an order), hummus and vegetables and lamb burger sliders.
All items were good, but the hummus was my favorite—surprisingly well-textured and lemony with an array of raw and grilled veggies.
The lamb sliders get points for uniqueness, but minus one point because the bread to meat ratio is a little high (and dry).
Happy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. The exception is Tuesday, when happy hour is all day.
Modern China Café
This is a cute place in the heart of Walnut Creek, so parking could be an issue. We came late on a Friday evening and parked a few blocks away.
Happy hour takes place in a large lounge area complete with booths, tables, bar seating and outdoor tables.
There's loud music and several plasma TVs. The only thing missing is a dance floor.
Deals here are fantastic: Drink specials run $3 to $5, and dim sum is $2.50 each. We tried the asparagus tempura, siu mai and pan-fried turnip cakes.
All items were good, but the siu mai was extraordinary — each dumpling stuffed with smoky pork and sweet juicy shrimp. I could have eaten several orders of this by myself.
Modern China has a fun, hip vibe. But not so hip as to be exclusive; we noticed a wide age group, from 20-somethings to seniors.
Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11:30 p.m. weekdays. It's a little simpler on Thursdays, with happy hour from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.