Boston's 10 Best Happy-Hour Deals

By Scott Kearnan  |  May 6, 2014

It's always a joy, trying to explain Boston's happy-hour scene to visiting friends and colleagues. In short: we don't have one. Well, not the traditional type. Various laws put the kibosh on discounting booze, but restaurants use special food deals to lure in after-work crowds. Here, we round up some of the most appealing happy-hour food deals around town - not just the typical chafing-dish wings or soggy nachos, but beef carpaccio, filet mignon yakitori and duck ragout. Cheers!

  • Haru

    Office denizens pouring out of Prudential Center know to make a pre-commute stop here, where "Haru Happy Hour" from 3-7 PM offers 15 full-sized appetizers for $8 and under. Think short-rib buns (pictured), crunchy, spicy salmon rolls and filet mignon yakitori, to name a few. The deal is also available on the late-night side, from 10 PM to close. 

    55 Huntington Ave.; 617-536-0770

  • Ribelle

    Here's a high-end take on happy hour: every day from 5-6:30 PM this Brookline spot offers a three-course, $30 "Shotgun Tasting Menu," a choose-your-own-adventure trio of selections from nearly 20 different, regularly rotating plates by chef Tim Maslow. The oft-changing options have included duck-liver mousse, honeycomb tripe, tagliolini with duck ragout, and olive oil ice cream, to name a few. 

    1665 Beacon St., Brookline; 617-232-2322

  • Petit Robert Central

    Care to invite a very special colleague out for drinks Downtown? We suggest sipping over the "Rendezvous Menu" at Petit Robert Central, a selection of $5 plates available weekdays from 5-7 PM. The offerings include Pernod mussels, grilled flatbreads and a changing selection of wings. 

    101 Arch St.; 617-737-1777

  • Marliave

    Dollar-oyster specials are among the more popular happy-hour offerings around town. But we had to single out Marliave's buck-a-shuck, because it's offered twice daily: during post-work hours from 4-6 PM, and again from 9-10 PM.

    10 Bosworth St.; 617-422-0004

  • Red Lantern

    The Back Bay Pan-Asian already has a sexy nightspot vibe working in its favor to attract after-work crowds. Not hurting: the daily "Kitchen Kamikaze" special from 5-7 PM. A handful of globally inspired noshes are priced $12 and under, including Tokya tuna rice bites ($6) and rock shrimp tempura ($10). But here's the best part - order a drink and you get a bite specially paired with it for free. So the mai tai comes with Singapore street noodles ($11) and a Tsing Tao beer comes with pan-seared pork dumplings ($6).

    39 Stanhope St.; 617-262-3900

  • Masa

    Masa brings an inexpensive taste of the Southwest to the South End; the spot always offers $1 tapas in the bar area. But from Sundays-Thursdays from 5-7 PM, that price is halved. So that means everything from the big menu - that includes grilled chorizo with cranberry chutney, BBQ short-rib tostones, and chicken taquitos - is just 50 cents.

    439 Tremont St.; 617-338-8884

  • Grendel's Den

    This Harvard Square hideaway feels like walking through a porthole to Middle Earth. And apparently food is a lot cheaper there; Sunday-Thursday from 5-7:30 PM, the entire menu is half-price. So you'll have a very happy few hours noshing on plates that are inexpensive to start, like a nachos supreme platter, cheese fondue, tasty burgers and  the "beggar's banquet" of grilled chicken with spinach pie and a choice of several sides. Prices are halved again from 9-11:30 PM. 

    89 Winthrop St., Cambridge; 617-491-1160

  • Stella

    The glitzy South End favorite tends to bustle with cocktail-clinking pretty people who preen in its Washington Street-side windows. And there's a good reason it's a happy-hour favorite: Mondays-Fridays from 4-6 PM, the bar and patio offer a special menu of $5 appetizers, like truffled tater tots (pictured), Bolognese nachos, crispy fried artichoke hearts, and beef carpaccio. 

    1525 Washington St.; 617-247-7747

  • Estragon

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the South End is the comparatively low-key Estragon, a Spanish gem that locals love because of, not in spite of, its lack of hype. Mondays-Thursdays from 5-7 PM the restaurant offers a "Tapas Blitz," a happy hour-style bar menu of specially priced $1 (like patatas bravas and tortilla espanola), $3 (fried pork belly, Serrano ham croquettes) and $5 (Kobe beef sliders, shishito peppers) plates. 

    700 Harrison Ave.; 617-266-0443

  • Fleming's Prime Steakhouse

    Head to the bar at this Park Square-side steakhouse for its "5 For $6 'Til 7 PM" menu. (You follow all that?) Five cocktails (like a blueberry lemon drop), five wines, and five plates (like baked Brie and mushroom ravioli) are all available for $6 each until 7 PM. While you're there, an à la carte option allows you to order more substantial bites like the prime burger, pictured.

    217 Stuart St.; 617-292-0808