It’s been another grueling day of waking up by the beach and playing Frisbee with your best friend who is also a dog. Life in Santa Monica definitely isn’t the worst, but long days happen to everybody, and when they do, it’s time for a drink. And that’s good news, because Santa Monica has an excellent Happy Hour situation. You won’t have to look hard to find a place that’s selling discounted cocktails, but just because there’s a $5 margarita on a menu doesn’t mean you (and your dog friend) should be drinking there at 5pm. Here are our 20 favorite places for Happy Hour in Santa Monica.
Despite being a city on the ocean, there aren’t a whole lot of places in Santa Monica where you can actually sit and stare at the water. Luckily, Shutters On The Beach is one such place. The upscale hotel has three different restaurant/bar spaces, but the one you want to head after work is Coast - because it’s the only one with a Happy Hour.
Happy Hour: 4-6pm, Sun-Fri. $8 house wines, $9 cocktails, and $10 selected apps.
From the outside, The Independence looks a lot like the countless other American bar/grills that line the streets of downtown Santa Monica. But once inside, you’ll realize it’s better than the rest - the food and cocktails are solid, the open space is great for last-minute big groups, and its 2nd and Broadway location means it’s only a few blocks walk from wherever your downtown office is located.
Happy Hour: 3-6pm, daily. $7-9 apps, $8 cocktails, $7 select house wine, beer, and well spirits.
We don’t usually send people to Main St. for good food, but if we do, we point them in the direction of Manchego. This Spanish tapas and wine bar has solid food and a casual, relaxing space that seems worlds away from the Fireball apocalypse happening at all the other spots on this street.
Happy Hour: 5-6:30pm, daily. $6-8 apps, $7 house wine, $8 sangria
The Hollywood original opened in Santa Monica in 2013 and brought with it excellent burgers, great craft beer, and a space where you can feel truly free from all the trappings of downtown. As far as the burgers go, our favorite is the brie-and-fig-jam-topped Six Weeker, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them - particularly when they’re all half-off during Happy Hour.
Happy Hour: 4-6pm, weekdays. Half-off all food. Late Night Happy Hour: 10pm-Midnight, Sun-Thurs. Midnight-2am, Fri-Sat. $5 select beers.
Open since 2007, this tiny cocktail bar on 2nd St. has become somewhat of a drinking staple in downtown Santa Monica. Though it technically shares a wall with Hotel Carmel next door, this is definitely not a hotel bar and that’s a good thing. Which is to say, the drinks are well-made and the crowd is mostly made up of locals.
Happy Hour: 5:30-7:30pm, weekdays. $5 beer, $7 wine and cocktails, $4-7 snacks.
Not the craft store (though Happy Hour at a craft store would be a lot of fun). Michael’s is an American-ish restaurant that also happens to have one of the best patios on the Westside. And though a meal here can get pricey, their tremendous all-night Happy Hour is a great way to take the heat off of your wallet for a bit.
Happy Hour: 5:30pm-last call, Mon-Sat. $5 select beer, $8 wine and cocktails, discounted menu items.
Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica can be kind of weird place, but Lunetta All Day is a less-weird option. This (you guessed it) all-day spot has decent food, plus a relaxed space that serves as a great respite while rush hour traffic dies down outside. And if you want to kill some time with your four-legged friends, Lunetta hosts dog-friendly Yappy Hours once a month.
Happy Hour: 4-9pm, Monday. 4-6:30pm, Tues-Fri. $6 select wine and beer, $7 sangria and well drinks, $8 select cocktails. $7-12 apps
The Craftsman is laid-back but modern, and one of the best neighborhood bars in downtown Santa Monica. They have solid bar food, (not obnoxious) DJs on the weekends, and tons of board games to keep you and your coworkers’ minds off of the fact that there are still four more days left in the work week.
Happy Hour: 4-8pm, daily. All day Tuesday. $7 featured cocktails, well drinks, house wine, $5 select beers, and bar snack discounts.
FIG is the all-day restaurant inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. They have a great Mediterranean menu and the kind of calm poolside setting you want after a day of taking iced coffee orders from your boss who still doesn’t call you by the right name. FIG’s Happy Hour might only be an hour long, but at 50% off everything on the menu (except steak), you won’t find a better one in the area.
Happy Hour: 5-6pm, daily. 50% off (almost) the entire menu.
You’re sick of the rabid hordes of tourists on the Promenade and need to feel like an aspiring reality star for a few hours. Head to The Penthouse. This top-floor restaurant/lounge/Real Housewife-menagerie at The Huntley Hotel is definitely a scene, and that’s exactly why you’re here. And also those views - which have something to do with the high cost of alcohol here.
Happy Hour: 4-7pm, weekdays. Beer, wine, and food specials.
You’ve spent most of your Tuesday in meetings, arguing with people you genuinely despise. You need wine - a lot of wine. Head to Bodega, the massive wine bar at Broadway and Lincoln with a good bottle list, a food menu that’s better than it needs to be, and an atmosphere far more lively than your average wine bar.
Happy Hour: 4-7pm, daily. $7 wine, $4 beer, and food discounts.
The Misfit is located uncomfortably close to the 3rd St. Promenade tourist hellzone, but when it comes to this laid-back restaurant, we grin and bear it. The food is solid, the crowd is mostly locals, and the cocktails are the best in downtown Santa Monica. Also, there are free cookies.
Happy Hour: Every day until 7pm. Discounts on beer, wine, and cocktails.
Mercado isn’t the best Mexican food you’ll ever eat. It is, however, as good as you’ll find in the immediate downtown Santa Monica area, and after a day of walking around the pier with your out-of-towner cousins, that’s good enough. The space is also more relaxing than you’d think.
Happy Hour: 5-7pm, weekdays. 4pm - 6pm, weekends. $4 select beer and $7 margaritas. Food discounts.
For some unknown reason, Santa Monica has more than its fair share of traditional English pubs, and Ye Olde King’s Head is one of the best. In operation since the ’70s, this place can definitely get touristy, but ultimately you don’t mind because the kitschy interior is fun and welcoming, the fish and chips will cure your blackened soul, and everyone’s screaming at rugby on TV.
Happy Hour: 4-7pm, weekdays. $2 off draught beer, $6 well drinks and wine, $7 margaritas. Food discounts.
Upper West is one of those restaurants in inland Santa Monica you always forget about, until you go there and realize it should be in your rotation. The food is good, and the space is great for big groups of people who never know what to order.
Happy Hour: 5-7pm, daily. All night Monday. $5 select beer and wine, $6 cocktails. Food specials.
Chez Jay is an LA classic and one of the few remaining old-school joints in Santa Monica that hasn’t been bulldozed for condominiums. Located right on Ocean Ave., walking into this nautical-themed bar is like walking through a time portal - on the other side are dirt-cheap drinks, grouchy bartenders, and steak and lobster dinners (obviously).
Happy Hour: 4:30-6pm, daily. $6 beer, wine, and appetizers.
Though the Santa Monica location doesn’t have quite the magic of the original Ktown spot, El Cholo still serves the kind of old-school Mexican food and margaritas that taste great after a day from hell. Big groups extremely welcome.
Happy Hour: 3-7pm, daily. $4 draft beer, $7 margaritas, $6 and under appetizers.
Best known as that place you drank too many tequila sodas at a few weekends ago, this popular Main St. bar calms down mightily during weekday Happy Hour. The cocktails are strong, there’s live music some nights, and those couches are perfect for burying yourself (and your midweek feelings) in.
Happy Hour: 5-8pm, weekdays. $6 house wine and well spirits. Cocktails and craft beer discounts.
Since 1939, Santa Monica Seafood has been one of the better fish markets on the Westside, but the power move is to head over to the restaurant side, pull up to the bar, and go to town on some oysters, house-made sandwiches, and all the wine you can drink before 5pm.
Happy Hour: 3-6pm, weekdays. 2-5pm, Sundays. $2 oysters, $4 House Beer, $7 wine. Food discounts.
If you’re wondering where that weird little Polish restaurant on Lincoln you liked went, the answer is it’s still there - it just changed names. Formally Warzawa, the place is now called Solidarity, but not to worry, the restaurant itself basically hasn’t changed otherwise. It still has the old-school mom and pop charm to cure your soul after another day of corporate hell.
Happy Hour: 5-7pm, Tuesday - Friday. $5 draft beer and wine, $6 house cocktails. Food discounts.