Drinking, eating and dressing up are the makings of a good time. Now, if you can do all that on a budget it's a BLAST! With the recent splurge on my YSL work bag eating into my budget, saving on my girls night out and social time is a must. I LOVE a good Happy Hour. I'm not talking about a Joe's Sports Bar happy hour of all you can eat wings and endless bowls of chili fries, BARF! A great Happy Hour for this WESTCOASTWIFE consists of a swanky scene, snobby food, affordable wine, and good looking people. With San Diego being known for its fabulous weather you can always be sure to find a spot with great scenery and fun outdoor seating. Here are three of my current faves:
The Patio Lamont St. Pacific Beach and The Patio on Goldfinch Mission Hills-
The Scene ****
Both restaurants are in awesome locations with a contemporary rustic vibe. As it's namesake states, both restaurants are centered around their cleverly decorated and arranged patios. In the Pacific Beach location you will find a young, professional, trendy beach crowd where "bros" put to bed their striped tanks and opt for a clean cut vibe and recently graduated San Diego State sorority girls don effortless looking $300 highlights and trendy over sized tote bags. In Mission Hills you get a mix of the neighborhood's old money novelists and hipsters in non-prescription Warby Parkers. Both are circles I would happily like to be included in!
Wine and DIne ***
The food on the Happy Hour lists slightly vary at both locations and consist of high quality yummies including things like fancy artisanal flat breads and delicious ahi poke tacos. The wine list consists of esoteric brands with varietals from unusual locales; like a Pinot Noir from Argentina and a sparkling wine from Austria. Fun stuff to tittilate your taste buds!
The Happy Hour $$$$ 3-6pm and 10-12am
This is a spendier Happy Hour than most because the food is just a couple bucks cheaper than the regular menu. It won't break the bank but you will be spending over $10 for a flat bread versus other competing restaurants. The nice thing is you make up for it in their awesome cost of wine. Here they give 1/2 off on all wines on the menu. A steal considering the quality. There's an early and later Happy Hour making The Patio a great spot for an early evening blind date where you can get a clear view of your suitor's goods, or for your late night booty call you're trying to keep under wraps.
Cafe la Rue at La Valencia Hotel La Jolla
The Scene ***
At the front of the La Valencia Hotel doubling as an espresso bar and French bistro-style cafe, Cafe la Rue has a classic throwback charm that exhibits luxury with a welcoming feel. This spot is a La Jolla landmark where you get a mix of local La Jolla cougars, businessmen divorcees, swarthy European travelers, and posses of wives looking for a night away from their cheating husbands. There's diamonds and bedazzling all around you with a "I look like I shop at Cache but this is actually a dress by Escada" or "My outfit is inspired by Kris Jenner" theme. In fact, this is the hotel of choice for the Kardashian Klan when they visit San Diego where their grandmother is a La Jolla native. Even more incentive for me to make a visit!
Wine and Dine ***
The Happy Hour is limited to their extensive appetizer list consisting of Franco-fusion cuisine. You can order one of my favorite go-to's Moules with Pommes Frites (mussels and fries), or an extensive Charcuterie et Fromages plate with fancy cheeses, preserves, mustard, meats, and pates. Oui oui!! All the dishes are great to share and are easy to pair with the extensive wine list. They have a very global wine list with an emphasis on European classics like Spanish Tempranillo's, French Sancerre's and German Rieslings. Alas they still must cater to their demographic by offering their fair share of "Cougar Juice" otherwise known as buttery California Chardonnays.
The Happy Hour$$ 4pm-7pm
Cafe la Rue's Happy Hour offers: half off all beer, wine, and appetizers, $5 house cocktails and $7 martinis. Wanna make a guess at how often this is??? EVERY DAY of the week! In my opinion, one of the best deals in the county. The later time frame of 4pm-7pm makes it convenient for those who would like a quick moment after work to touch up their makeup and have themselves a little ho bath before hitting the town again. In fact, a little bird told me they might be extending their Happy Hour an extra hour from 3-7! This is one of my personal haunts for a gossiping, gorging, guzzling, girls night out. The silver foxes putting out the vibe at the bar with tan lines on their ring finger also make for great entertainment.
Oceanaire, San Diego Gaslamp
The Scene **
This is your classic fine dining establishment with a touch of that Mad Men time warp feel. The Happy Hour is limited to the small lounge/bar area with dimly lit booths and tables with hot bartenders dressed in shirt and tie. It's a mixed crowd of San Diego locals, young professionals, and travelling businessmen. The tight quarters demand for either making interesting conversation with an unlikely patron or a run-in with a martini spilling down the back of your silk Joie blouse. Still a fun spot to dress up and cast glances at your potential Don Draper.
Wine and Dine ***
If you are a seafood fan, this is one of the best destinations in downtown San Diego for high-end seafood fare. The happy hour offers an extensive appetizer list with a mix of fresh ceviches and shrimp & grits shared plates. What really puts Oceanaire on my fave list is that the oyster bar is also included on the Happy Hour menu! They boast a large selection like Fanny May Oysters, Kumamoto, Blue Points, etc... (I admit that I once came and ate 18 oysters all by myself!). What brings down the stars for this spot is the limited wine list with mid- to low-level wines. I generally choose to peruse the main wine list where they offer well-known trophy brands and heavy hitters from Sonoma and Napa Valley.
The Happy Hour $$$ Mon-Fri 5-6pm, and 9pm-close Sun 8pm-close
For a high-end establishment, Oceanaire does a fabulous job at offering an appetizer list so affordable you can have things like crab cake sliders for $8 or a lobster roll and fries meal for $16. Truly a steal for the quality and location. The oyster bar offers a large variety at a dollar each! Great spot to get the libido going (although this is actually just relevant to men, and has no spurring of the groins for you ladies. Boo.)! The price of the wine fits the quality...CHEAP, and at $6 for all glasses it's hard to complain. With me eating mainly the oysters, I often pay the corkage so I can pair my eats with something a little snobbier. Oysters might not make me drop my Hanky Panky's, but pairing a bottle of Clicquot with them sure will! The hours of Happy Hour operation are a bit of a puzzle so i'm going to focus on my favorite time slot...SUNDAY FUNDAY! With an 8pm-close, it's a great date night with the hubby and a perfect way to end the weekend.