800 Seacoast Avenue, Imperial Beach
The view from this bar is so good, it makes IB worth driving to. Happy Hour, which fills the gap between lunch and dinner service, runs 2:30-5:00pm every day. There are half-price cocktails from the tiki-esque menu, the same deal for wines by the glass, and small plates starting at $5. Sit inside or out. It doesn’t matter. You’ll still get a great view of the IB pier and the not-so-distant distant Coronado Islands.
1851 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach
Raglan Public House
Raglan breaks with a tradition shared by many theme bars of being lame. Maybe it’s the delicious lamb burgers, but instead of kitschy, the New Zealand–themed bar and grill manages to come off as a solid neighborhood joint. Happy Hour, which the bar skips on holidays, is Monday-Friday, 3-6, and the deal is simple: half-off munchies and select drinks. Try the Shandy, a beer “cocktail,” if you want to keep the alcohol consumption moderate, for whatever reason. If not, trust in the power of the tap list. It’s a burger place, after all.
2218 Cable Street, Ocean Beach
OB Noodle House
It doesn’t have the very best pho in town, but it’s close! Moreover, the Noodle House is a dark-horse contender for “best noodle shop” just because it has a better location than anywhere else that plays in the same league of tastiness. Also, it turns out that chamoy-flavored sake and Belgian beer go very well with noodle soup. Half-price beer from 3-6, discounts on sake infusions and beer pitchers. Slurp slurp.
Brandon Hernández adds:
Of all the Happy Hours in town, this is probably the best for a beer hound like me. And we’re not talking typical Asian macro-lager garbage. There’s a reason this place has a line out the door come 3pm. Owner Steve Yeng is a beer nerd’s hero, going to great lengths to get specialty suds offerings ranging from sours and Belgian trappist ales to triple IPAs and imperial stouts. Sweetening the daily deal, he even throws in select brews for just $2 per pint. That leaves plenty of dough for a warming bowl of pho or whole sizzling fish.
721 Grand Avenue, Pacific Beach
(No longer in business.)
Pacific Beach Ale House
That roof. Those beers. The surprisingly tasty food. PB Ale House looks for all the world like it should be a bogus tourist trap for luring unwitting Minnesotans into wasting money, but four out of five displaced uptown hipsters agree, the Ale House is legit! Let’s just say it doesn’t suck to sit on the rooftop patio. They have dollar oysters Wednesday, prime rib on Fridays, and Happy Hour every weekday from 3-6. It’s not the fanciest HH, but $3 drafts, wine, and well drinks get the job done!
4150 Mission Boulevard #208, Pacific Beach
California Kebab and Beer Garden
Nobody really knows why a glut of kebab shops opened up all over San Diego in recent years. Perhaps a secret society of London and Berlin ex-pats longing for the kebab shops of their youth instigated a ploy to turn Americans on to the joy of the Anatolian burrito. Either way, Cali-Kebab is definitely the only kebabery with its own in-house microbrewery, Amplified Ale Works. Weekday Happy Hour runs Monday through Thursday, 3-6, with half-price on most beers and most shared plates. To keep things rolling, daily specials start up around the end of Happy Hour. Tuesday has $10 pitchers and $3 kebab tacos, Wednesday is $5 stein night, and Thursday has $4 pints with an Amplified Ale Works beer koozie.
4527 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach
It’s hard to beat the allure of cold beer and hot sake. Surfside’s daily Happy Hour, from 5 until 7:30 or 8 (depending on the day and, apparently, the management’s whims), means discounted sushi rolls and $1 sake with the purchase of a beer. Feel free to pig out on mayonnaise-covered rolls, but more careful sushi eaters may go for the 16-piece “chef’s recommendations,” which gets toro, uni, Spanish mackerel, live shrimp, clam, and yellowtail for a reasonable $38.
4633 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach
Whomp out at the quintessential beach bar and save a bit of loot at the same time during “happy as sh!t hour” Monday to Thursday 5-9, and Friday 5-10, with $3 well drinks and beers. Thrusters has daily specials, too, like $1.50/$2.50 drafts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and other ways to get good and liquored up just a block away from the sand. Don’t be a tool “buying bottle service with your rent money.” Do enjoy occasional dubstep and dancing. Don’t get in a fight. Do get rad.
5019 Cass Street (inside Latitude 32°), Pacific Beach
Part of this bar’s charm is the random sports playing on the array of TVs when the regular stick-and-ball games aren’t on. It’s probably the only PB beach bar that has ever showed the Criterium du Dauphine (a cycling race.) The cheesesteak subs at Alex’s Brown Bag (attached to the bar) are downright salivatory, but the cheesesteak-covered fries are even better. Lat’s also gets bonus points for starting Happy Hour at 11am every weekday, running it until 6, and letting it go all the way to 9 on Tuesdays. They’d be mad if we posted the details here. It’s a neighborhood place. They want you to go find out yourself. Respect that, and you’ll like it here.
1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla
George’s at the Cove
This place has a sunset clock right on the website. That’s how important the view is. George’s may seem far too fine for your champagne tastes and beer budget, but you can actually afford to go here. Sit at George’s Bar or the Ocean Terrace during Monday to Friday Happy Hour from 3:30-6:30 with $7 cocktails, $7 wine, and $4 beers. They also run daily specials — Throwback Thursday, whatever that is, anyone? Go find out. Stay for Thursday’s all night Happy Hour. See. George’s isn’t out of reach.
7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, 11th Floor, La Jolla
Sitting at the top of the Hotel La Jolla, gazing out to where the ocean drops off into Scripps Canyon, sipping a cold drink...what could be nicer? A little restraint works wonders, and barmeister Nate Howell is a student of booze history. The bar at Cusp actually bothers to make classic cocktails properly, rather than overdoing it with syrups and bitters to the point of farce. Happy Hour daily from 4-7 includes $5 bar bites, $7 cocktails, and $5 wine and beer.