Monday, September 19, 2011

The Insider's Guide To Happy Hour Deals In The City Of Napa

Being a person of French peasant descent (and modest income), I have always delighted in discovering great deals on food and wine.  Living in Napa raises the difficulty level of this particular challenge, but also the satisfaction of finding a truly awesome happy hour discount. 

The following is a totally subjective list of some of the best happy hours in town, chosen by yours truly because of their value, their accessibility (e.g., more than one day, continues past 5pm), and/or their quality of offerings.  There are other worthy contenders out there, though!  Let me know your favorites in the comments.  À la vôtre...

Oh how I love thee, mushroom flatbread. With. Truffle. Oil.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar.  These guys do happy hour RIGHT, which in my book means every day of the week.  From 4-6pm, you get $3.50 draft beers, red and white wines of the week (one of each color) for $6/glass, and discounts on a short list of their favorite menu snacks, including my beloved wild mushroom flatbread ($6 during happy hour), truffle popcorn, and their wildly addicting harissa fries--made with the harissa blend from Whole Spice in the Oxbow Public Market.  Carpe's space is cool and contemporary, and verrrrrrrry popular... so it can get loud.  Arriving on the earlier side is advised if you aren't up for standing room only.

Grace's Table.  Just down the street from Carpe, Grace's Table also rocks the daily happy hour from 3-6pm (3-7 on Wednesdays).  Glasses of the house red and white wines are $5, as are the soju cocktails (normally $9).  Their food menu offers a really great variety of meat, non-meat, seafood, and cheesey goodness priced between $3 and $6.  It's rare to see such a broad selection of dishes and non-fried preparations on a happy hour menu that also contains fried pickles and semolina crusted onion rings.  If the bar stools aren't calling your name, no worries--the discount applies in the restaurant area too.

Salt cod beignets/tater tots with harissa aioli.
Fish Story.  Rounding out the pack of daily happy hour spots, Fish Story's deal runs from 3-6:30pm.   During this luxuriously long time, full-size draft beers are $2.50 (!), signature and well cocktails are $5, and a half dozen of their wines on tap are also $5 per glass (the Morning Sun Sangiovese rosé from Sonoma Mountain is my vinous go-to).  Foodwise, the $5 menu changes but typically includes oyster shooters, fish tacos, ceviche, clam chowder, and salt cod beignets.  Discounts only apply in the bar area and on the pleasant front patio, aka the Octopus' Garden.

Zins' thrilling smoked salmon, goat cheese, caper pizza.  Try
it with a cucumber gimlet for maximal enjoyment.
Zinsvalley.  Holding court over the brick plaza on First Street, Zinsvalley is a spacious restaurant with plenty of shaded patio space as well as a fireplace-equipped bar.  Zins does its well-known happy hour in the bar Monday-Friday (no weekends), from 2-6pm--except for Wednesdays, when the hours remain happy until closing at midnight.  Three dollar beers, $4 well cocktails and house wine, and a discounted appetizer menu happens every happy hour night, but there are also special deals on Tuesday (half-price burgers) and Thursday ($6 you call it Martinis, featuring Ketel One).  The vibe is casual, and the bar is usually full of locals.

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar.  Bounty Hunter started its happy hour discounts in the dark early days of the recession, but the enduring popularity of these offerings has kept them around since.  Deals run Monday through Thursday from 3-6pm, and ALL DAY on Monday until closing.  During these happy times, draft beers (including Guinness) are 2-for-1, and Bounty Hunter wine brands (Streamside,  Pursuit, Waypoint, The Vigilante, etc.) are 2-for-1 by the glass, or 20% off by the bottle.  You can also get a quarter slab or ribs for $5, or a BBQ sampler platter with brisket, pulled pork, and ribs with a dollop of cole slaw (a full meal) for $10.

New bar tables and chairs moved into the wine bar space
in mid-September. Is a flatscreen next?
Whole Foods Wine Bar.  Ok, this one is technically neither a restaurant nor a happy hour--it's a frickin' unbelievable value.  The recently expanded wine bar located in the heart of the Napa Whole Foods Market is a wondrous place, open 11:30am to 8pm daily, where you can order beers like Four In Hand IPA or White Cloud Belgian White for $1.99, 5-ounce pours of Sancerre for $5, a half bottle of Veuve Clicquot for $30, cheese plates for $8, and/or any bottle in their wine department at retail cost, with no corkage. Thursday and Friday night wine tastings cost an impossible $2 per person... and we're talking flights of Rombauer Vineyards (9/22-9/23), Robert Sinskey Vineyards (9/29-9/30), and other totally legit producers.  No joke. Check the tasting schedule for details.

For more of my favorites, check out Part Two of the Guide...


  1. great round up! I'm 5% happier just knowing I can drop in on one of these deals in the neighborhood!

  2. Ristorante Allegria has a good happy hour. Their $8.00 Kobe beef burgers are great with a side of fries.

  3. Allegria is one of my favorites , not only for the kobe burger, but with the crab cake salad, skirt steak satay and the best calamari in town, it can't be beat! Never over cooked or chewy, and priced best I've found, the calamari also comes with crisp green beans and artichoke hearts, Yum! Offered 7 days a week starting at noon Fri-Sun it makes for a nice weekend lunch too.
    Cuvee has some of the most amazing ribs offered on their happy hour menu, fall off the bone and perfectly seasoned. I love that they give orange and jicama pieces to cool off your mouth when things start to get spicy. They have deals on wine, but can't recall how much.

  4. Uva's Trattoria is one of my favorites. Here's their Happy Hour Specials from their email Newsletter.

    School is in, Futbol has begun and Uva has a new menu for lunch and dinner, and a new “Happy Hour” menu! From 4:00 to 6:00pm on weekdays in the bar/lounge we offer $3 draft beer (Moretti, Blue Moon & Stella) $4 wine specials, $4 well drinks and $5 bar menu/antipasto. Also, on Sundays we offer our bar/lounge special: Grilled salmon Panini and a pint for $8. Tuesdays you can enjoy the ballgame at the bar with a "Burger & Pint" for just $10

  5. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your picks!
    Uva does indeed have some great deals on the weekdays, and I'll definitely have to stop by to scope out the Sunday sandwich deal now too.

    I haven't been blown away by Allegria's happy hour in the past because their bartenders didn't have fresh lime juice for cocktails (!) ... but I would give them another shot if that aspect has changed.

  6. Thank you for your diligent and detailed work!!

  7. Thank for sharing this deals. I will try it.