The Best High-End Happy Hours Around San Francisco

Think oysters and Champagne, not dollar drafts

violet's sf happy hour
The happy hour menu at Violet's includes a burger and a cocktail for $21
Grace Sager/Violet's
By Diane Rommel / March 10, 2020 11:28 am

Everybody loves a happy hour. Cheap beer, cheap eats. 


Here’s what we love even more: when upscale restaurants apply the discount mentality to their own menus — offering us, the hoi polloi, solid deals on oysters, Champagne and all the finer things in life/area menus. 

And if you want to stick around for a five-star dinner — you’re all set. 

Leo’s, FiDi


When: Monday-Friday, 3-5:30
What: $1.50 oysters and Champagne specials
In brief: Super-glam cocktails and oysters in one of the city’s best-designed dining rooms
If you’re staying: Pan-seared steak with pommes aligot or a lobster roll with lemon aioli

Outerlands, Outer Sunset


When: The Monday-Thursday, 5-7 “Sunset Menu”
What: $11 boilermakers (for example, with Temescal IPA and Sacred Bond brandy), $8 “apertivi” (like an apple brandy and tonic) and small bites including a $10 pickled mushroom sandwich with mozzarella di bufala, Parmesan and provolone
In brief: The most thoughtful dinner within sight (more or less) of the Pacific
If you’re staying: The McFarland Springs trout is worth the trip on its own

Petit Marlowe, SoMa


When: Tuesday-Saturday, 4-6
What: Oysters and wine
In brief: They’re famous for the burger, but get here for happy hour and you’ll find good — well, better — prices on the oysters
If you’re staying: They have about two dozen sparkling wines on the menu, so add one of those to the Marlowe fries (with truffle aioli) and pan-seared scallops with quince purée

petit marlowe sf happy hour
The elegant marble-slab bar at Petit Marlowe (Petit Marlowe)

Big 4 Restaurant at the Huntington Hotel, Nob Hill


When: Monday-Friday, 3-5
What: $1 oysters, $5 short rib sliders, etc. 
In brief: Only launched in February, the new happy hour here has a rotating cast of daily specials — also including $5 mini-Cubanos (on Thursdays) and two-for-$5 wings (Mondays)
If you’re staying: We’ve previously declared the Big 4’s take on the chicken pot pie the best in town

Violet’s, Richmond


When: Monday-Friday, 4-6, weekends 3-5
What: $5 lager from Fort Point, pickle-brined wings for $12, and a “burger + cocktail” for $21
In brief: The super-stylish sister restaurant to local legend Fiorella’s offers both an early-evening happy hour and one for those dining after 10 p.m., with additions like fries and Key lime pie at night
If you’re staying: Violet’s fried chicken, in a green tea buttermilk brine

Gaspard, FiDi


When: Monday-Friday, 4-6:30
What: Everything’s eight bucks, from the Belgian Abbey Tripel to the half-dozen oysters
In brief: Upstairs at this Frenchy brasserie is this made-for-date-night, intimate bar space — bring someone you want to get close to
If you’re staying: Nothing speaks to excellent French cooking than the success of the poulet roti, served here with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and sweet potato