Summer is here and that means skipping out of work early for refreshments. In an effort to provide you with a variety of options for happy hour, I travelled from Concord to Danville to Lafayette to try out local favorites for your summer libations. Since I enjoy spending time with my dog, I put emphasis on those places that allow us to bring our best friends with us.
The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, located in the Willows Shopping Center in Concord, is known for its outdoor patio where you can dine with your dog. They even have a special menu so dogs can have some snacks of their own. Unfortunately, the day I was there it was over 100 degrees and way too hot for man or his best friend to be out in that heat!
It was, however, nice and cool inside and the bar was crowded. They have happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight. The happy hour drink prices range from $3 to $7 and the menu includes a wide variety of beer, wine and cocktails. They also have a dining menu with many choices also ranging from $3 to $7.
We ordered the sweet potato tater tots and chicken lettuce wraps. Both were very good and had generous portions that were perfect for two people to share. Since it was a very hot Friday afternoon, I was ready for a cocktail and wanted something refreshing. The housemade sangria fit the bill. They have three flavors: Pomegranate Red, White Peach or Raspberry Moscato. Since I could not decide, I ordered a sampler that was described as including a “taste” of all three. This really turned into me drinking three glasses of sangria, since the glasses were full size.
My friend had a Cucumber and Mint Martini (or two) and said it was quite good. Lazy Dog also has handcrafted beers which are brewed for them by Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. They have Blonde, Hefeweizen Pale Ale, Red, IPA and Stout beers. For the indecisive people like me, they have a Lazy Dog Sampler that includes tasters of all six. After my experience with the sangria, that is probably a good bet if you are thirsty or have someone to share with.
Continuing my quest for another great happy hour, I headed to the Danville Station Firehouse Bar and Grill. They offer happy hour all day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! This is the perfect spot if your week gets off to a bad start and you “need” a break early in the day or week. During this time, they also offer a BBQ Sampler of 1 lb. of meat and two sides for $21.95. This sounds like a great deal if you have group or a few very hungry people.
The well drinks are $5, the beers are $4.50 and appetizers are $6. We tried a few appetizers including the tempura green beans, onion rings and BBQ sliders. They were all very good with large portions that encourage sharing. We enjoyed sitting outside on the patio and “people-watching” on Hartz Avenue. If you have kids off from school this summer and you need a drink, the Firehouse Grill is family friendly—they give kids a free soft serve ice cream cone!
Around the corner from the Firehouse Grill on Prospect Street is McGah’s Pub & Pianos. (A little trivia: The McGah family is one of the co-founders of the Oakland Raiders.) McGah’s Pub claims to have the happiest hour on the planet. It is actually the happiest three hours with food and drink specials Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., plus Rombauer Hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 4 p.m., when you can get a glass of Rombauer Chardonnay for $10 per glass. They have a nice covered patio out back with multiple televisions so you can catch the A’s and Giants while you enjoy a drink.
Both the Firehouse Bar and Grill and McGah’s are pet friendly, so you can bring your canine companion with you to enjoy happy hour.
Finally, I ran out of time for happy hour during the week, so I went for Saturday brunch at the American Kitchen in downtown Lafayette. American Kitchen is located in a historic 80-year-old farmhouse on Lafayette Circle. They serve breakfast and lunch all day from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. on weekends. They offer a bottomless mimosa for $10, which tastes great whether you order breakfast or lunch. Our group had an omelet, a salad and the Cowgirl Grilled Cheese sandwich. We sat outside on the patio, and since it was cool, they gave us each a blanket and turned on the outside heater. It was very pleasant and the waiter was very attentive in refilling our bottomless drinks.
In the spirit of the dog days of summer, American Kitchen now has Dog Day Tuesday. The menu includes all-beef hot dogs, spicy turkey sausages and chicken jalapeno sausages. You get to choose your favorite toppings like chili, cheese, slaw, jalapenos, bacon and more. They also offer $4 draft beers! I have not been able to get away for this happy hour deal, but I will definitely put it on my list.
I hope you get a chance to go out and enjoy the summer afternoons, and don’t forget to bring your dog!
Suzanne Boucher is a certified family law specialist. Her practice, located in Walnut Creek, focuses on complex property, support and custody issues in dissolution proceedings.