Cheers! The Valley’s Favorite Happy Hour Hot Spots
It was during Prohibition, ironically, that the practice of drinking before dinner began. Americans would gather secretively in speakeasies and homes for an illegal tipple before heading to restaurants for a dry dinner. These gatherings came to be known as “Happy Hours”—a term used in the Navy to describe periods of time set aside for entertainment and socializing.
These days, happy hours offer a wallet-friendly way to relax and refresh before beginning your evening, and to sample the atmosphere and offerings of restaurants and bars without committing to dinner or having to jostle for space at a busy bar during the evening.
In the Santa Ynez Valley, try the happy hour specials at these spots:
This acclaimed fine dining restaurant, owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, offers innovative cuisine, an extensive selection of local wines and delicious signature cocktails. During happy hour, you can enjoy $4 appetizer specials such as lamb lollies with mint and chimichurri sauce, fish and chips and hot wings, and $6 smoked chicken tacos and carnitas tacos, accompanied by $4 pints, well drinks or house wine. uHappy Hour: 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Tues-Fri. 420 Alisal Road, Solvang. 805-686-8681. root-246.com
Avant Tapas and Wine
Tucked away at the end of an industrial cul-de-sac in Buellton, this winery restaurant, billed as a “neoclassical modern industrial warehouse experience,” features tapas, wood-fired pizzas and seasonal dishes starring fresh local ingredients. Dozens of local wines – most of them crafted by small-scale winemakers using the crush facility next door – can be sampled, self-serve, from the gleaming array of taps on the “wine-wall.” During the weekday happy hour, there’s a 30 percent discount on those wines, as well as tapas specials, 50 percent off bottled beers and discounts on half and full cases of wine. uHappy Hour: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Mon-Fri. Avant Tapas and Wine, 35 Industrial Way, Buellton. 805-686-4742. avantwines.com
Succulent Cafe and Trading Company
This relatively new arrival on the Valley dining scene offers food that’s both complex and satisfyingly hearty. Charcuterie is a specialty, and you can sample the house-cured meats during happy hour, when there’s 10 percent off Charcuterie and snacks and draft beer for $4 a pint at the Swine Bar. uHappy Hour: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. daily except for Tuesdays, when Succulent is closed. Succulent Café and Trading Company, 1555 Mission Drive, Solvang. 805-691-9444. succulentcafe.com
Sante’ Wine Bar & Lounge
Another recent addition to the Solvang scene, Sante’ offers something very different from the town’s quaint, old-fashioned feel, with sleek white furniture and dramatic lighting that creates a modern European ambience. Sante’ offers a nice selection of local wines and beer and during the daily happy hour, selected wines are available for $8 a glass, and beers are $5. uHappy hour: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. daily. Sante’ Wine Bar & Lounge, 433 Alisal Road, Solvang. 805-691-9641. santewinebarandlounge.com
Dos Carlitos Restaurant & Tequila Bar
Always a popular destination for fresh Mexican food and top-notch margaritas, Dos Carlitos really delivers on happy hour deals. The drink specials – $5 margaritas, $3 beers and $5 well cocktails – are available anywhere in the restaurant, but if you score a seat at the bar and buy a happy hour drink, you’ll be offered plates of small bites – for free. uHappy Hour: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Dos Carlitos Restaurant, 3544 Sagunto Street, Santa Ynez. 805-688-0033. doscarlitosrestaurant.com
– Written by Anna Davison