Last night I met a girlfriend for pau hana drinks at Bevy, a fairly new neighborhood bar in Kaka‘ako. It’s got a solid happy hour menu, with a new selection of tapas, that we had wanted to check out. Items like house-made goat cheese creme on smoked beets with candied pecans. Or cod-and-caper croquettes served with a sweet chili aioli. Or the popular oysters on a half shell (above) with a papaya salsa and ponzu sauce. (And for $1 each, no less!)
It got me thinking about happy hours.
Anyone who has worked in Hawai‘i knows how much we love our pau hana. We love discounted pūpū and drinks — especially if they’re as delicious as the tidbits we feasted on at Bevy.
But what makes a good happy hour?
I say the following:
1. Great drinks. You can’t have a happy hour with lame, watered-down cocktails and a very limited offering of beers. (Unless you’re Shirokiya and you’re serving cold beers for $1.) We want good, solid drinks at a decent price. I’m not going to pay $8 for a colorful cocktail, even if it comes with a sprig of rosemary.
2. Tasty bites — and size doesn’t really matter. I want to say I appreciate the huge portions some bars dole out, even at happy hour. But I don’t care that much about the quantity as long as the food is crazy-good and reasonably priced. I’ll eat a small plate of food if the dish is absolutely delectable — and the price is right.
3. Fun, lively atmosphere. I might be in the minority when I say this, but I like a happy hour to be fun and lively — not dark or drab or dreary. I don’t need to sit in a cave and eat food I can’t see. If I’ve been sitting in a quiet office for the past eight hours, the last thing I want to do is be in a quiet space after work. I want laughter, I want conversation, I want to swear and dance and toss my head backward in a contagious fit of laughter. Period.
4. Parking. OK, maybe this my 39-year-old self coming out. But I hate having to circle neighborhoods for parking or walk several blocks in heels. I’m just too old for that. Give me valet.
I like places like Brasserie Du Vin in Chinatown, located closed to a cheap municipal parking lot. It boasts a robust happy hour menu like baked Brie, beef sliders topped with caramelized onions and a share-able cheese-and-charcuerie platter. Or Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar near Ala Moana Center, with its late-night menu of contemporary Japanese dishes like unagi rice and sukiyaki bibimbap and sukiyaki kim chee pizza. Or Holoholo Bar & Grill in Mo‘ili‘ili with its take on bar classics like a Hawaiian version of poutine and deep-fried pork ribs.
So, according to that criteria, where are your favorite spots for happy hour?
Great drinks….I don’t drink so it doesn’t affect me.
Tasty Bites….That’s numba one, gotta get guud grinds
Fun, lively atmosphere…not a biggie, the company I’m with is guud enough
Parking….plenty parking is a plus.
Kincaid’s. Easy parking and a very short walk from the 3rd and 4th floors of the Ward Warehouse parking structure. A lively pau hana crowd, particularly if there’s a good game on the TV. Drink specials for $4 and $5. Full-sized orders of their appetizers at a cheaper price, as well as a very good cheeseburger and chips for $7 (add $1 if you want fries instead of chips). Happy hour every day from 3 to 7pm. Lots to like at Kincaid’s…
Chez Kenzo has a great happy hour, I especially like that it is until 7pm – most other HH’s end way too early for me to catch!
I haven’t been! Thanks for the recommendation!
Home Bar & Grill
Great food and service, fun lively atmosphere, all my friends love it. Parking kinda sucks a bit later, but I work nearby so it’s not a problem for me
KINCAID’S! That’s a good call. Potatoes three ways and a view. Love Du Vin, too.
Another great place to spend my retirement days. Thanks Cat!