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Happy Hour Gems Right in Our Backyard

The definition of "happy hour" has widened, and good food and drink deals abound. Try one of these happy hour hot spots today.

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.

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