My Favorite Happy Hours | Pacific Beach & Mission Beach

April 20, 2012
When I’m not cooking at home or covering an eatery or event, I usually head out only for happy hours or daily specials. I’m a professional deal hunter, and being that I live in Pacific Beach, I try to keep it local as often as possible. Who wants to hang out with a designated driver anyway? No one. Well, not me.

Below is a list of some of my overall favorite specials: a few for each night of the week, both food and drink. Prices quoted are for happy hour. While I usually like to keep my deals on the DL so as to avoid lines, overcrowding, and any responsive quality cuts, I really couldn’t hold it in anymore. So here you have it, my greatest secrets revealed. Just be sure to tip your hat to me when you see me sitting at the bar. Also, keep in mind that restaurants/bars will often change their specials with the seasons (tourist seasons result in inflation for all of us!) and on a whim, so be sure to call ahead to verify.

Monday:  Everybody’s least favorite day of the week!  Ciro’s Pizzeria & Beerhouse in Pacific Beach has a great special weekdays from 3pm-6pm with $2 slices of ANY pizza and half-off draft beers (with a very impressive selection of drafts).  The buffalo chicken slice is my favorite and being an IPA guy, I usually go with Sculpin from Ballast Point ($3.25) or Widmer’s Rotator Spiced IPA ($2.50).  I defy you to find better beer prices on this caliber of beers in all of San Diego….nay, in all of California!

Another consistently great happy hour is at JRDN at the Tower 23 Hotel.  There, from 4pm to 7pm during the week, you can get $3 small drafts and $4 large drafts, $4 wells, and $5 select glasses of wine, as well as small plates for $7 (usually $10).  JRDN is probably the nicest hotel in PB with a great view of the Pacific, especially for sunset, and they have an outstanding mussel dish and great truffle Kobe sliders on their small plate menu.  Psst… for those who’s bikes have been stolen and are now forced to drive, valet parking is free for 3 hours if you’re dining at JRDN.  Take advantage.   

If you feel like getting sloshed on a Monday night, Miller's Field has there happy hour all night long, with $5-6 32 oz. mason jars.  

Tuesday:  Ah, Taco Tuesday.  There are a lot of great specials on Tuesdays all around PB and MB. 

Cass Street Bar & Grill has an all night special with $3.25 drafts and $8.50 craft beer pitchers.  They don’t have food specials, but their food is pretty tasty and rather inexpensive.   This same special is offered on weekdays from 3pm to 6pm. 

Dirty Bird’s has a kick ass happy hour on Tuesdays, but it gets packed.  On weekdays from 3pm to 6pm, they offer all their chicken wings orders for half price and half price on domestic pitchers (used to be all pitchers and I was there A LOT more often), but on Tuesday, that special goes all day.  If you like chicken wings and haven’t been to Dirty Birds, definitely check them out as their wings are inarguably the best around.  Quote me! 

One of Bare Back Grill's juicy burgers
Bare Back Grill is another favorite Tuesday night spot with an interesting special that can get a group wasted:  after 6pm, buy any pitcher and get a burger or sandwich (or really anything on the menu) for free (up to $9.99 in value; anything above, you pay extra).  I think that Bare Back has one of the best burgers in town (and they’re organic!) and the Blind Chookie is one stellar chicken sandwich.

One of my favorite specials is Bub’s Dive Bar’s grilled cheese special.  They serve up a large, gooey grilled cheese with tots or fries for $3 on Tuesday after 6pm.  So, so buttery-delicious and comforting!  They also have $10 We-Call-It pitchers and $4 Fireball, Jager & Rumple Minze shots.  There is also a special for $5.50 Svedka-Red Bull.  Bub’s used to be one of my absolute favorite happy hour/nightly special spots, but they recently modified all their specials (except my coveted grilled cheese night).  Managers really need to stop messing with great specials or at least give locals and regulars a heads up, and grandfather us in!  

Last, but not least, is the bar where everybody knows your name (at least bartender Vince) - Good Time Charlie’s.  If you want your tacos on Taco Tuesday, this dive bar, filled with locals and regulars, has amazing tacos (carne, carnitas, chicken, and calamari) for $2 a piece.  Their carne asada is THE BOMB!   

Wednesday:  Humpty Hump Day!!  Wednesday offers a couple of my favorite specials.  World Famous has $1.75 Lobster Tacos, which are actually quite hit or miss (they get PACKED), but their house hot sauce is delicious always.  Their new restaurant, Fat Fish Cantina, has an awesome special with $2 house margaritas (which are made in the style of skinny margs and refreshingly delicious and pack a punch) and 50% off their lengthy bar food menu.  I’m a big fan of their fried avocado tacos, fish tacos, and the ribs are pretty awesome too.  Both World Famous and Fat Fish’s specials are limited to the bar area.  Worth the wait.   

Guava Beach Loco Coconut
Another favorite of mine is Guava Beach’s Wednesday happy hour, and you’ll often find me participating in (and sometimes winning) the Trivia Night that starts at 8pm.  They offer $3 drafts and $10 for any sandwich or wrap with any draft.  With a good selection of beers and some yummy food, they surely stand out.

Thursday:  Thirsty Thursday!  This is a tough one for me - of course, JRDN and Ciro’s have their great happy hours going on, as discussed above.  Those are winners any day of the week, but besides that, I do not have any steadfast Thursday favorites.  

From 4pm to 11pm, World Famous has $1 chicken tacos, $3.25 ribs & $2 house margaritas.  Be careful with those house margaritas.

Moondoggies has a legit happy hour from 11am to 12am with $2 giant slices of pepperoni pizza; $5 you-call-it 12” pizza with the purchase of any microbrew pitcher; or 16oz PBR with a stuffed pizza (A.K.A. calzone).  Raging Bitch pitchers from Flying Dog are $15.  There is also a calzone challenge: finish a 2lbs calzone in 30 minutes, it’s $5; $10 if you fail.  Starting at 9pm, get $2 u-call-its on most stuff, with tippy top shelf going for $4.     

While not really a special or happy hour, on Thursdays at 710 Beach Club, they have Rock Out Karaoke, where patrons can take the role of lead singer for a great live band.  With a lengthy list of covers and patrons eager to participate, this makes for a great post-happy hour time.  Don’t take Roadhouse Blues, that’s mine! 

Friday:  TGIF!  Note:  I am not a going-out-at-night-on-the-weekend kind of guy, so don’t expect to get info on late night happy hours here.  As I alluded before, crowds are not fun to me. 

Johnny V has one of the best happy hours on Friday from 4pm to 10pm, offering $2 wells, $2 domestic drafts, $3 house wines, ½ off most other drinks, AND each beverage comes with your choice of over 15 personal appetizers, including fried ravioli, sliders and my favorite, orange chicken.  This is one of the only nights this place gets packed, so get there early if you want to get a seat.

JRDN's patio on Ocean Front Walk
JRDN gets packed for their Friday happy hour from 4pm to 7pm, which is pretty much the same as the rest of the weekdays:  $3 small drafts, $4 large drafts and wells, $5 select wines, and $7 small plates.  I can’t rave about the mussels enough, but be sure to order extra bread!
Beachcomber in Mission Beach has a great happy hour on drinks on Friday nights.  This dive bar to the max offers $0.75 domestic drafts from 8-10pm, as well as $3 woo-woos (fruity well shots), tequilas, and fireball whiskeys.  It’s a total dive, but a lot of fun nonetheless with a very diverse crowd.  Oh, and there’s beer pong. 

Saturday:  There are still some pretty awesome happy hours offered on the weekends. 

Moray’s Lounge at the Catamaran Resort, Hotel, and Spa has happy hour everyday of the week from 3pm to 6pm, so if you can’t make it during the week because of work, then swing by on the weekend.  Moray’s offers their $8 appetizers for $5, including calamari, choice of sliders, and fish tacos, as well as $3.50 for all draft beers (used to be $2.50 until very recently…ahem, tourist season), $4 wells, and house wines for $4.50. 

Spicy potatoes at Costa Brava
Another everyday happy hour that shines is a little far from the beach for my liking, but I trek up to it anyway.  Costa Brava Cocina Espanola offers a menu of a vast array of delicious tapas, ranging in price from $2-$5.   Some favorite tapas offerings include blue cheese croquettes, escargot in parsley alioli sauce, and grilled lamb skewers, to name a few.  They also offer Sangria for $2 a glass or $8 a pitcher.  It’s a classy little hidden gem, one of my greatest secrets, but there you have it.  I’m doing you all a big favor. 

On Saturday and Sunday Nights, JRDN offers their regular happy hour - sans food specials - from 6pm-9pm with $3 small drafts, $4 large drafts and wells, and $5 select wines.  

Sunday:   SUNDAY FUNDAY!!! On Sunday, Johnny V has happy hour all day with half price appetizers, $1 street tacos, $8 domestic pitchers, $12 premium pitchers, and most other drinks half price.  The food here is usually quite good, but the service is habitually horrendous.  I highly recommend the hummus plate.  They recently switched to plastic cups, so I don’t go here as often as I used to.  A good beer should never be served in a plastic cup!!!  Taboo!

Although Ciro’s Pizzeria and Beerhouse doesn’t offer half off all drafts on the weekends, they still have a great special on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm to 6pm with $2 for any slice, $2 Bud and Bud Light drafts, and $4 Wipeout IPA drafts. 

Of course, Costa Brava, Moray’s Lounge, and JRDN have the same specials as discussed for Saturday, so those also apply here. 

Best Overall:  Ciro’s, Costa Brava, and JRDN – All consistent with great deals everyday of the week.

So those are my favorites for now.  I’ll let you know when new specials arise and others fall to the wayside.  Until then - Happy happy-houring!