When happy hour arrives in the South Bay, Silicon Valley professionals, sports fans, moms’ night out groups and couples all vie for a spot at the bar at the region’s many libation-driven locales that range from chic and clubby to casual and pubby. Popular destinations include a new upscale hotspot with sharable plates and bespoke cocktails in Palo Alto; a lively modern Mexican restaurant in Santa Clara for margaritas and nachos; a classic Irish pub in San Jose; and a brewery in Half Moon Bay with a view of the Pacific. Wherever you choose to imbibe, a good time is guaranteed at our picks for the best happy hour in the South Bay.
Feature Photo: Helena Yankovska
Inviting, casual wine bar offering a wide selection of reds, including from California, France, Italy and Argentina, as well as a lengthy menu of Mexican tequilas, Kentucky bourbons and single malts from Scotland. Along with traditional cocktails, craft beer, signature cocktails and a variety of wine flights, Calave also offers a long menu of gourmet bar bites, flatbreads and cheese flights. calave.com
Sekoya Lounge + Kitchen
New Palo Alto hotspot Sekoya Lounge + Kitchen, helmed by the restaurateur behind San Mateo’s of Pausa Bar & Cookery, Steve Ugur, is making waves with its California-inspired shareable plates, seasonal cocktail program, curated wine list and upscale lounge-inspired atmosphere. Amber hour, offered Monday through Saturday, is an excellent time to visit, when the restaurant offers a special paired-down menu at discounted prices featuring a selection of cocktails like the strawberry gin and tonic; wine and beer; and small plates, including hibachi grilled skewers, oysters embellished with Fresno chile-sangria mignonette, smoked trout roe and citrus pearls; and caviar service. sekoyapaloalto.com
Sister to the hip Mission District restaurant that serves traditional — and not so traditional — street tacos, small bites and sides, along with a cocktail menu that ranges from margaritas to micheladas. The Happy hour specials: $9 house margarita, red sangria, and wine (red, white, rosé or bubbles), and Tecate and Negra Modelo for $4 and $6, respectively. And at $9 each, made-to-order guacamole, “MF Chicken” tacos, dip sampler with guacamole, chile con queso, refried beans. A popular option is the “T-lish Prix-Fixe,” which is a tequila, a Tecate and a taco for $13. tacolicious.com
In and Around the Peninsula
Blue Water Seafood and Crab
Casual and whimsical “East Coast-style crab house” that specializes in crab, oysters, fish and chips, and other seafood greatest hits, as well as a full menu of pub grub and brunch staples. Happy Hour specials include $2 off on draft and bottled beer, $6 house wines and $8 especially drinks, and snacks run $3.50 to $9, including tempura mushrooms, veggie spring rolls, catfish bites and barbecue pork buns. bluewaterseafoodandcrab.com
Lively lounge in the downtown arts, culture and entertainment district with a small-but-creative menu of specialty craft cocktails, draft beers, and gourmet burgers, bites and brunch dishes. Happy Hour specials include $5 single-mix well cocktails, half off on wine by the bottle, $2 off beer taps and small bites. recroomsj.com
Rosie McCann's Irish Pub
Archetypal Irish pub and restaurant with all the decor, fun vibe, whiskey, pints and pub food that usually goes with that. Happy Hour drinks include $5 draft beer pints, $6 well cocktails, $7 house wine and $8 signature cocktails. The pub grub dishes during Happy Hour are $10 and include crab cakes, bacon-wrapped prawns, buffalo wings, tacos and “Irish Nachos.” rosiemccanns.com
In and Around The Coast
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
With a rotating selection of house-brewed beer that includes IPAs and blonde, amber and brown ales, to name a few, along with a large patio overlooking the ocean, Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. by the Pillar Point Harbor is always a popular stop on the coast. Come for happy hour Monday through Thursday and you’ll be treated to a friendly, welcoming vibe, along with discounts on draft beer, cocktails, artichoke hearts, nachos, buffalo wings and Yucatan ceviche. hmbbrewingco.com
Humble Sea Brewing Co.
Located near Linda Mar Beach, the Pacifica outpost of this Santa Cruz-based coastal taproom and beer garden features 20 beer taps, including a rotating selection of West Coast and “foggy” IPAs and pale ales, plus a full kitchen cooking up brew-friendly favorites like tater tots tossed in a house-made spice blend, fish and chips, and a Niman Ranch burger. Select draft beers are $2 off during happy hour Tuesday through Thursday and all day every Monday. humblesea.com