High-End Happy Hours

We all know a hovel where you can get happy-hour Pabst for $2 and sticky stuff from the bar all over your sleeves for free. Every once in a while, however--to impress someone, or un-depress yourself--it's nice to have a few rounds in more elegant environs; enter this list of high-end happy hours, where the un-loaded can get loaded on fancy drinks for dive-bar prices.

Updated: November 20, 2009

Fancy for Cheap


399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Whether you get one of the plush, velvet chairs at the circular oyster bar inside, or get a table on the waterfront patio under the bridge, there are few places in SF as opulent as Waterbar, and Mon-Fri from 3pm to 6pm, top-shelf Moscow Mules are just $5, and said oysters--some of the city's best--are just $1 everyday from 11:30am to 6pm.


301 Mission St (Millenium Tower), San Francisco, CA 94105

You'd never know it, but Michael Mina's super swanky SoMa restaurant is a dirt-cheap place to start off a night of SF-style drinking (or get a full rack of nightcaps): Everyday from 10pm to close, shots of Fernet are just $1, while ice-cold Kronenburgs are $3.

Chez Papa Resto

414 Jessie St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Mint Plaza may still be a little gritty, but once you step inside this haute-gothic, onyx-and-amber South-of-France restaurant, you'll feel rich, especially with top-shelf cocktails for $6, wine for $5 and beers for $3, Mon-Fri 5pm-7pm.

Zaré at Fly Trap

606 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Pass under the classic red-and-gold awning, notice Zare's tiny, brick-lined private-entrance alley and take a seat at the perfectly lit bar: Zare at the Fly Trap feels like old money, in the best sense, but those who don't have much money currently can still partake, with $5 wines, $3 beers and tons of delicious bar snacks on the cheap Mon-Sat 4pm-6pm.


450 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102

The famous blown-glass jellyfish chandeliers give this over-the-top under-the-sea-themed restaurant in Union Square a too-precious-to-touch feel, but Mon-Fri 6pm-7pm you can dig into crab cakes, truffle fries and Cabrito Blanco margaritas for $6 a pop--about what they charge for salt at any other time of day.

Heaven's Dog

1148 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Belly up to the beautiful 30-foot petrified cypress bar at Charles Phan's SoMa restaurant/cocktail lounge Mon-Fri 4:30pm-6:30pm and any of their signature drinks--and the cocktail list here is one of the best in the city--will cost you only $5 a pop (they're usually twice that).


500 Florida St., San Francisco, CA 94106

A cascading water wall at the entrance, bamboo walls, sexy lighting and earth tones throughout this lofty space will make you feel nouveau-rich as you sip on $2 premium beers and tasty cocktails and down $1 oyster shooters and cheap snacks. Tuesday (only) 5pm-9pm.