Suds and scenery are the best at the Crow's Nest. Photo by Jenn Ireland.
When day is done, it is right and good to enjoy a cold beverage and perhaps a savory snack. Here are Santa Cruz’s favorite places to spend a happy hour or two after the five o’clock bell has rung, according to the readers of Santa Cruz Weekly.
Crow’s Nest Santa Cruz’s classic waterfront happy hour spot offers a spectacular perch overlooking the harbor and bay, plus potent drinks and the famous restaurant’s classic calamari, crab cakes and buffalo wings. And you can’t beat the view on summer Wednesdays, when the sailboat races are on.
El Palomar The noisy high spirits of the crowd in the cantina says it all: come quittin’ time, Palomar is the downtown spot to be. Those addictive chips and salsa and a menu of daily appetizer specials beg—no, demand—ice-cold margaritas and cervezas, and the ace bartenders are happy to comply.
Red Restaurant and Lounge On any given night, the plush couches, chandeliers and dim lights of the Red are flooded with a sea of scarves, skirts and sex hormones. Come for the happy hour, stay for the happy ending—no one beats the Red when it comes to tasty drinks and the hotties who hold them.
Hula’s Don’t mess with our Dr. Funk! This delicious coconutty concoction has the magical power to wipe away every last workplace-inflicted indignity imaginable, and it’s available only within the cheerful confines of the island-themed Hula’s. Its Tiki Bar has become a magnet for Santa Cruz hipsters and the rockabilly tribe, who enjoy the exotic cocktails and tasty Hawaiian-inspired fare when it’s time for their daily pau hana (that’s “after work” to you haole kids).
515 Kitchen & Cocktails The Little Bunny Foo Foo hooks ‘em and the lamjoun reels ‘em in. Nothing is dull at this cozy, velvet-draped two-story establishment, especially when the downtown work force files in for its daily period of well-deserved R&R. An extensive selection of highly original cocktails (the Little Bunny Foo Foo involves saffron-infused gin and cayenne) and unusual plates to share (lamjoun is spiced ground lamb and feta on flatbread) keep them coming back.