Happy Hour in San Diego

Happy Hour San Diego

Getty Images

When it comes to bargains and fun, happy hour in San Diego is perfect. With an easy-to-navigate freeway system, everything worth doing and seeing is just 15 minutes away. Downtown and Old Town are two popular places close to the airport that shouldn't be missed; downtown for the beautiful waterfront, restaurants and clubs, and Old Town for the history and authentic Mexican food. Before you start searching for the best happy hour in the city, visit Fred's Mexican Cafe for the $5.95 cantina menu, served Monday through Friday.

Fred's Mexican Cafe
2479 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, CA 92110

Below is a list of my favorite happy hour haunts in San Diego providing a week's worth of inexpensive mirth and merriment. Many of these places offer happy hour specials on other days of the week, so be sure to read the details below. Most of the action happens in Pacific Beach, affectionately known by locals as PB.


San Diego venues battle for the title of best Sunday playground. Locals call it "Sunday Funday!" Here are my top picks for happy hour hospitality.

The El Camino Restaurant, with $1.00 mimosas and live DJs spinning the turntables, boasts two locations, one in South Park and one in downtown. El Camino in downtown's Little Italy has a hip Mexican vibe with pink-aproned waitresses serving mimosas in boot-shaped glasses. The food is inexpensive, authentic Mexican. Grab a seat on the patio to soak up the rays and dance with the cool crowd. Because it's in the airport fly zone, it's jet engine noisy. Bring your earplugs, and then order the Sweet Potato Flautas at $8.00. Muy sabrosa!

El Camino
2400 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Open 7 days a week at 5PM
Sunday Brunch at 10AM
$1 Mimosas on the patio

Head to Dirty Birds in PB on Sunday Funday for breezy beach business. Formerly Daddio's, the place has been completely updated with walls papered in autographed dollar bills. For $10.00, indulge in a full bottle of champagne with a carafe of orange juice or order $2 mimosas or $15 buckets of beer. Sports bar-type nibbles are within waddling distance of the beach. Sliders are a specialty with my favorite being the ahi. Monday through Friday from 3PM-6PM, Dirty Birds hosts happy hour with 1/2 price wings and domestic pitchers. Tuesday is an all-day happy hour!

Dirty Birds
4656 Mission Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
Open Sunday-Wednesday 11AM-12AM, Thursday-Saturday 11AM-2AM.
$10 bottles of champagne with pitchers of orange juice
Happy Hour all day on Tuesdays

These places don't have discounts but do offer hours of happiness on Sundays only:

Intervention at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown features a rooftop pool party with high-profile DJs and expensive drinks. Secret Tip: A free party bus runs roundtrip from Firehouse Lounge in PB to Intervention offering free admission.

Hard Rock Café
Corner of 5th Avenue and L Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Wave House in Pacific Beach is the equivalent of Intervention, but with dancing on the sand at the beach plus a wave machine. It's a little less pricey if you have a connection. Secret Tip: After 2PM, pitchers of beer are $10.

Wave House
3125 Ocean Front Walk
San Diego, CA 92109
Hours vary. Please visit website for details.


Looking for sushi on the happy hour menu in San Diego? Surfside Sushi in Pacific Beach is the Monday destination of choice for sushi with rolls at 70% off. Get there at 5PM to line up. Bring a book, because there is always a wait. You'll also find varied daily discounts on sake, appetizers, beer, and rolls, and the rainbow and crunch rolls are yummy. Three rolls will set you back about $13. You'll be satiated.

Surfside Sushi
4527 Mission Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
Open all week 5:30PM-10:30PM
70% off sushi rolls: Mondays 5:30PM-7:30PM
Special discounts every day


It's Taco Tuesday at Cabo Cantina in PB where all the drinks are two-for-one, including their 36-ounce margaritas. Best of all, you'll pay only $5.00 for all-you-can-eat tacos all day long. Not your average happy hour restaurant in San Diego, the place is reminiscent of a hole-in-the-wall cantina in Mexico. Big portions of average cuisine, but hey, for five bucks, what do you want? Order a margarita, and then grab a cab for home.

Cabo Cantina
1050 Garnet Avenue
San Diego, CA 92109
Saturday and Sunday 9AM-midnight
Monday-Friday Noon-midnight
2 for 1 drinks everyday 4PM-8PM
$5.00 tacos all day Tuesday


Woo hoo, it's Wednesday and my favorite hang out is the chic Firehouse Lounge in PB where all bottles of wine are half price and oysters on the half-shell are only a dollar! Located next to the fire station, Firehouse Lounge features a different live band blasting on the rooftop every week. You can relax under an umbrella at tables with a partial ocean view, lounge on red chaise lounges, warm up at the fire pit, or chat with the bartenders at the bar. Complimentary valet parking and free Wi-Fi are bonuses, and did I mention the $1 oysters? A bottle of wine and oysters with a side of garlic fries makes a stellar supper. We're fire fans!

Firehouse Lounge
722 Grand Avenue
San Diego, CA 92109
Sunday-Wednesday 9AM-midnight
Thursday-Saturday 9AM-2AM
Happy Hour Monday-Friday 4PM-closing with specials every day.
Wednesdays, 1/2 price on bottles of wine; $1 oysters


It's time to go local and hang at the beach. Try Pacific Beach Shore Club where grand meets the sand and sunsets are served daily. One of the best happy hour specials in San Diego is their two-for-one burgers from 5PM until closing. And $3 U-Call-Its from 8PM until closing are the other reason you might find me here. Try the build your own burgers with extra grilled onions and look for the green flash at sundown.

Pacific Beach Shore Club
4343 Ocean Beach Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
858-272-SURF (7873)
Monday-Friday 11AM-2AM
Saturday and Sunday 8AM-2AM
Special discounts every day
Thursday two-for-one burgers and $3 U-Call-Its


TGIF! I'm off to Johnny V in PB for $2 drinks served with free tapas-style appetizers between 4PM and 10PM. The crab cakes and Mediterranean hummus are heavenly. Their San Diego happy hour menu is the perfect way to end the week. Low lighting, high stools, big tables, great music, a spacious atmosphere, and dancing after 9PM are why you want to be here. And it's always packed because the conversation is sizzling.

Johnny V
945 Garnet Avenue
San Diego, CA 92109
Tuesday and Wednesday 4PM-11PM
Thursday-Saturday 4PM-2AM
Specials every day
Fridays $2 drinks with complimentary appetizers


If you're ready for a magical and eclectic night out, head to downtown's historic Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego for happy hour at Vin de Syrah Restaurant. Specialty wine tastings with reservations for 14 between 8PM and 9PM are a bit pricey but oh so special! From 4PM-8PM, you can enjoy $10 wine flights, $5 glasses of wine, $3 drafts of beer, and $4 well drinks. They offer small bites only, as this is a wine bar and dance club. The big draw is their midnight to closing Underground Happy Hour specials with $5 red and white sangria and cherry-infused Maker's Mark Shots. Vin de Syrah is owned by the same people who own the Firehouse Lounge. The bottom line? It's fun, trendy and very, very downtown, but it's also a great place to end the week with friends.

Vin de Syrah
901 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Tuesday-Saturday 4PM-2AM
Sunday 4PM-midnight
Underground Happy Hour every day midnight-closing
Friday and Saturday wine tastings with reservations only

Enjoy your rock-around-the-clock happy hour in San Diego. You might find another place to chill, a cool happy hour menu or new specials in San Diego. Remember, every hour is a happy hour when you are in San Diego. Party on!

Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best-selling author, internationally acclaimed speaker, and, with her daughter Heather Brittany, a Sun Diego aficionado. Find out more about Be the Star You Are! for Teens on Red Room, where you can read her blog.
Read Full Story

From Our Partners