The Happy Hour Issue: Get a head start

Venture out early to take advantage of happy hour bargains

Made from Lucky Dog Ranch beef, this burger from Lucca is a steal.

Made from Lucky Dog Ranch beef, this burger from Lucca is a steal.


Friends make fun of me because I like to eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m so old, blah, blah, blah. But eating early isn’t only fantastic on your digestive system, it also means fewer crowds, quicker service, a smaller bill and therefore a maybe-false sense of righteousness that you absolutely deserve to splurge on dessert later. Anyway, some restaurants offer drink-centric happy hours with minimal snacking options, but at others, it’s easy to pull off a full meal.

Meat, please

Arthur Henry’s Supper Club & Ruby Room

One order, one full meal. During happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, Arthur Henry’s offers a bangin’ special: a petite sirloin dinner with a drink for $13. That includes salad—get the blue cheese dressing—and garlic bread. Grill your 6-ounce steak in peace, knowing a steak, lettuce, bread and beer probably would have cost you something somewhat similar in a grocery store. Maybe. Anyway, be careful to specify exactly what your full intentions are for your meal if you wanted to, say, start with your beverage while you wait for friends to arrive. This ordinarily reasonable request is abnormally complicated at Arthur Henry’s, and you don’t want to get charged extra. That defeats the whole point of happy hour. 3506 Broadway,

All about that beef

Lucca Restaurant & Bar

All around, Lucca’s happy hour is solid. What really sets it apart, though, is the food menu, with most snacks in the $3-$5 range. Considering the quality and the price, portions are generous. I couldn’t believe I felt reasonably stuffed after feasting on one beef meatball ($4.50), paired with creamy polenta, marinara and Parmesan. Or, go for the burger ($7), a pared down version of what usually sells for $14.95. Cheese? Eh. It really comes down to the excellent beef from Lucky Dog Ranch. Even better: the usual 3-6 p.m. deal doesn’t apply on Thursdays, when happy hour lasts all night. 1615 J Street,

Porky goodness

Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar

Remarkably, some of Red Rabbit’s most popular dishes are only served at happy hour. Maybe it’s because they just beg to be consumed with alcohol, and Red Rabbit is most famous for its skills with booze. Take the popcorn pork belly ($6): tempura-battered and deep-fried cubes of fatty pork belly, coated with cotija cheese and Sriracha. Pair them with street tacos ($2) filled with melty braised pork cheek, cheese and tomatillo salsa. Or, the playful poutine ($6), with crispy tots and cheese curds drowning in pork gravy. It’s all ridiculous, and exactly what you want when guzzling down $7 fancy cocktails. 2718 J Street,

Little cravings

Centro Cocina Mexicana

It’s surprising more Mexican restaurants don’t engage in as robust a happy hour as Centro, considering the tradition of antojitos just makes sense at 5 p.m. Antojitos are street snacks, literally and adorably translated to “little cravings.” At Centro, you can only get certain antojitos during happy hour, including huaraches ($5) and flautas ($5). Huaraches are oblong, chewy masa cakes, and here they’re topped with black beans, chicharron, salsa, cabbage, crema and cotija cheese. For the flautas, rolled crispy tortillas are filled with creamy, cheesy potatoes. Wash them down with a $5 margarita. Snacking for dinner never tasted so good. 2730 J Street,

Did you say $1 oysters?


Raw oysters on the half shell are one of life’s most simple, briny treasures—except that those few bites can get monstrously expensive. Luckily, a few spots serve $1 oysters during happy hour, including two Asian-Cajun seafood boil places. Find $1 oysters on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Crab City Restaurant & Dessert and Firehouse Crawfish, plus all day on Mondays at the latter. Every Tuesday night, Skool on K offers $1 oysters, along with brunch on the weekends. And every Wednesday night, follow the oyster train to Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining, which also offers $1 oysters Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight. Plan correctly, and you can easily feast on oysters every day. Crab City Restaurant & Dessert; 7837 Stockton Boulevard, Suite 500;; Firehouse Crawfish; 6519 Savings Place, Suite 205; www.sacfhc .com; Skool on K; 2319 K Street;; Binchoyaki Izakaya Dining; 2226 10th Street;