If you’re anything like me, happy hour lost a little of its mojo over the past year of working from home. Trying to shake off a stressful day at the same table where you stared at a screen for the past eight hours is a challenge. Thankfully, bars and restaurants are reopening, and, slowly but surely, we’re getting back into our post-work groove.
Below is a selection of newer happy hours that you may have missed in the pandemic haze. Whether you’re looking for wine, beer, cocktails, or tasty bites, they’ve got all the fixings to coax you out of your home and into the world!
Corner Tap: Slinging more than two dozen craft beers, Corner Tap brings Santa Barbara’s best brewing culture to the Mesa. Owned by Mesa Burger cofounder Chris Chiarappa, the beach-backed spot offers a menu of elevated bar eats. “A lot of it is whatever I’m craving,” explained Chef Wayne Van Steen, whose slider specials include crispy fried chicken thighs slathered in homemade gochujang sauce and zesty slaw nestled in freshly baked squid-ink buns. 1905 Cliff Dr., Ste. F; (805) 690-2739; sbcornertap.com
Venus in Furs: The folks at Good Lion Hospitality’s latest adult playground on East Cota Street lives up to its name, exuding rebelliously cool Velvet Underground vibes. “The wines on the menu give a nice, polite, but subtly punk-rock middle finger to the 70-plus legal chemicals used in conventional winemaking,” explained co-owner Misty Orman, “and instead prefer to highlight the magic in grapes when winemakers trust the natural process.” On Tuesdays, all wines are $10 a glass, including their sparkling pinot noir. Chef Julian Martinez from Barbareño is behind their Provisions menu, featuring snacks like a cheese plate and tinned mussels. Rascals, the vegan-food fare offered by Dalan Moreno, is now also serving out of the kitchen. Their sessionable cocktails are free of hard alcohol but full of flavor. Don’t sleep on The Gentle Whip, their take on an amaro sour. 18 E. Cota St.; venusinfurswine.com
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Scarlett Begonia: Lovers of Scarlett Begonia’s impossibly pretty brunch can rejoice in the fact that their new happy hour stays true to their high-quality ethos. “Our happy hour menu was designed to give our guests a look at our take on fresh local foods that go great with a drink,” said owner Crista Fooks of the menu, which includes thoughtful creations such as sweet potato taquitos with black bean, almond rojo salsa, green cabbage, and crema. The shrimp cocktail comes partnered with a bay shrimp salad, and bacon-wrapped dates are loaded with goat cheese and drizzled with honey. Well drinks or house wine are $6, and pints of beer are only $5.
“Our happy hour is distinctively different because we only use the highest-quality organic ingredients and sustainable meat and seafood,” said Fooks, whose intimate back patio retains the charming Parisian feel of their former location and sets the tone for a high-class yet low-priced workday respite. 21 W. Victoria St.; (805) 770-2143; scarlettbegonia.net
Flor de Maiz: “There are very few restaurants that offer Oaxcan cuisine,” said Hector Arellano, the general manager of Flor de Maiz. The East Beach spot is also one of the few restaurants to offer a happy hour backed by ocean views. If you can make it there before 5 p.m., the rewards are well worth any afternoon scrambling. They boast a huge selection of delicious margaritas such as the Margarita Guadalajara featuring watermelon-cucumber juice, lime juice, agave, mint, and Hawaiian black lava salt. The menu’s mouthwatering, scratch-made creations include a chimichanga and the empanada de amarillito, which is stuffed with pork ribs and a savory amarillito mole sauce. 29 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; (805) 679-5258; flordemaizsb.com
Blue Owl: Long a favorite for locals looking to satisfy their Thai-fusion cravings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late night, this West Canon Perdido Street gem recently threw their hat into the happy hour ring. The short menu features large steins of craft beer for only $5.50, house wines for $7, and light bites. “We have a beautiful parklet outside, so it’s a great place to gather right off of State Street,” owner Nadia Ajlouni said. Food highlights include the eggplant crostini and strawberry crostini, which features vegan feta, fresh strawberries, Thai basil, and balsamic glaze. Happy hour runs 3-6 p.m. every day, making this an ultra-convenient post-work pause. 5 W. Canon Perdido St.; (805) 705-0991; theblueowlsb.com