Who doesn’t love a great happy hour? When you can eat and drink at a fraction of the cost, you’d be hard pressed to find something wrong with that picture. The only problem I see with happy hour is sometimes the hours are inconvenient. Some happy hours are only two hours, usually in the early afternoon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., hardly enough time to really get in a groove. I’ve noticed a few restaurants taking notice of this and extending their “happy” times, most notably McCormick & Schmick’s and L.A. Live’s Yard House.

Known primarily as a seafood restaurant, McCormick & Schmick’s has about 80 flagships throughout the U.S. The restaurants are tailored to the location, the Downtown L.A. version with a lively, urban but refined vibe, while El Segundo captures the area’s free-spirited and laid-back culture. The high quality of food stays the same at both locations, as do extended happy hour times. Downtown runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Friday, while El Segundo’s starts at 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

At the Downtown location, prices start at $1.95 for familiar favorites like Garlic Cheese Fries with Jack and Cheddar Cheese as well as Fried Zucchini and Mini Hot Dogs with Chili. For $3.95, you can order the spicy Blackened Chicken Quesadilla along with other options like Buffalo Chicken Wings and Artichoke Spinach Dip. But the star of the happy hour menu, noted in bold on the daily printed menu, is the Half Pound Cheeseburger for $2.95. When I saw that option, I assumed it would be a flattened burger, but no. For less than $3, you get a half-pound of ground, charbroiled chuck with a side of crisp shoestring garlic fries. The burger was so big I actually didn’t need the $4.95 Calamari Spiders I had ordered. Speaking of $4.95, you can also get a deep-fried portion of Beer Batter Fish & Chips. If I didn’t see burgers on everyone’s tables, there was Fish & Chips.

Of course, one can’t have a happy hour without some sort of drink specials. McCormick and Schmick’s offers $4.50 domestic drafts of Coors Light and Budweiser.

There are weekly specials, including the Wednesday bucket of 5 Coronitas for $10, best enjoyed with the “Buck a Shuck” Oysters ($1) from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. In terms of spirits (you know, the hard stuff), the prices are not too much of a happy hour, but if you’re so inclined you won’t be out of pocket more than $8, which gets you mixed drinks like an Island Mai Tai, Lemon Drop or, for those who prefer more fruitier drinks, order a $6.95 Fuzzy Navel or Mango Blossom with Mango Schnapps.

Another lively option, especially if you plan on seeing a movie, concert or basketball game, is L.A. LIVE’s Yard House. Yard House is also a fairly well known chain, with 13 locations alone in California, as well as in nine other states. Yard House gets its name after the glass that would shield stagecoach passengers as they traveled on their horse-drawn carriages … oh, that’s why the décor boasts those large windows!

With the ESPN Zone on the same lot, Yard House is a bit more upscale with plush bar stools and an open area lounge. And while they are known for their great selection of classic rock tunes, from ZZ Top, Little River Band and Tom Petty, they serve as background music more than adding to the atmosphere of a rowdy sports bar.

Happy Hour (Monday, 3 p.m.-close; Tuesday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close; Saturday and Sunday, 10 p.m.-close) features select half price appetizers like four juicy Classic Sliders (fries, too) served with cheddar cheese or with creamy Béarnaise sauce. There are pizzas on the menu like the Spicy Thai Chicken version with crushed macadamia nuts, carrots and green onion.

There are over 160 beers at Yard House, some served in goblets, some as pints. I’m still trying them out, but so far I’m in love with the simultaneous tart and sweet black cherry beer blend of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat with Belhaven Scottish Stout, the toasty malt of Spaten Optimator and the fail-proof citrus-tinged Blanche de Bruxelles.

Happy hour at both McCormick & Schmick’s and Yard House should be on your radar. You’re guaranteed not only to have a “happy hour,” but your wallet will thank you, too.



McCormick & Schmick's is located at 633 W. 5th St. and Yard House at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. For more information, mccormickandschmicks.com and yardhouse.com.