We love Boston. We love that Allston Christmas has its own Twitter account. We love that we name our bridges after poets and our tunnels after left fielders. We love that the building known as the “new” State House is 220 years old, and we love that there’s a big stupid codfish hanging from its ceiling. We love that Commonwealth Avenue is literally the prettiest street in America. Boston is wonderful.
But we’re not blind partisans. We can acknowledge our city’s faults, one of them being how the city treats Happy Hour.
Happy Hour doesn’t exist in Boston - at least not as it does in the rest of the freedom-loving world, where adults are allowed to relax with a beer that’s priced slightly lower from 5-7pm than it is the rest of the day. It’s a black mark on our city, but a few brave restaurants and bars are pushing back the best way they can: by giving us discounted food specials to accompany fully-priced drinks at the end of the workday. These are the 10 best “Happy Hours” in Boston.
High-end Japanese places with pricey omakase menus don’t seem to be obvious candidates for Happy Hour, but from 4-6pm at Pabu in Downtown Crossing, you can get seven different bites priced between $2 and $7. Fill up on the $3 chicken meatballs with togarashi, a $6 handroll, and get some drinks, too - Pabu gets around the law against discounting alcohol by providing one low-priced wine, beer, sake, and a specialty cocktail all day long.
Spanish tapas are kind of the OG Happy Hour food. Unlike in Spain, none of them are actually free at Estragon in the South End, but 14 different dishes are priced under $5, Monday-Thursday between 5-7pm. This includes a lot of things you wouldn’t expect to be discounted, like the short rib flatbread and garlic shrimp. And since Estragon is already the type of fun, casual place that has couches, an extensive cocktail menu, and pictures of Salvador Dali’s ocelot, there’s really no reason for you to head home until you’ve killed the entire menu.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t really feel like it’s Happy Hour unless there’s a pun-filled chalkboard advertising a deal in front of the restaurant, head to Bar Mezzana in the South End. Every Monday this crudo-obsessed high-end Italian place offers a Chicken ParMezzana sandwich (see, it’s a pun) for just $8 in the bar and lounge area. The deal starts at 5:30pm and keeps going till they run out a couple hours later.
You shouldn’t need an excuse to go to Pagu in Central Square, but if you’re being stubborn, then go for their daily Happy Hour that runs from 3-6pm. You can get their excellent cheesy wafflato (a waffle made with whipped potatoes) for just $1, a bunch of chicken nuggets for $5, or a daily $5 bartender’s choice cocktail.
There are approximately 876 places in Boston that have dollar oyster deals, but believe it or not, there are some people in the world who don’t like oysters. For those lost souls, there’s Banyan, a great Korean fusion spot in the South End, which offers dollar dumplings every single day from 4-6pm.
Back Bay Social Club is one of the approximately 876 places in Boston that has a dollar oyster deal. But this place also kicks things up a notch with a bunch of themed nights throughout the week. On Thursdays you can get beer or wine flights for $14. On Tuesdays you can get 3 tacos for $6. And on just about every other night of the week, you can expect some other fun deal as part of anything from an Oscars-viewing party, a Mardi Gras ball, or a Seinfeld-themed trivia night.
Sometimes Happy Hour calls for getting a little sloppy. Whiskey’s in Back Bay is a fratty sports bar where you might get a drink spilled on you on a Friday night, but it has a terrific HappyhHour special during the week. Monday through Friday from 4-7pm you can get a bunch of$4 bar bites. It’s pretty standard stuff (chowder, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, etc.) but when you factor in the 30¢ wings you can eat like a college freshman for the night.
There are a lot of places to get dollar oysters in Boston, but few of those places are also French-ish fine-dining restaurants. Juliet in Union Square provides one of the most relaxed and fun tasting menu experiences in the city, and they also have dollar oysters starting at 3pm on Thursdays. Grab a few and then roll right into a seasonal tasting menu that might include things like shellfish consomme or tarte tatin.
Grendel’s Den is something of a college hangout, but since that college is Harvard, you can go there without feeling like you’re slumming it, which is a good thing, because from 5-7:30pm, the entire menu is half-off. That means you can get a steak for under $10 - a pretty smart move appropriate for someone hanging out with a bunch of kids discussing Kant and writing equations on the wall.