happyhour.jpgIt had to happen. Rough economic times equal a goldmine for bargain hunters — especially when it comes to food and beverages. Looking to pack the house, restaurants are resorting to an age-old ploy to get you in the door: Happy Hour.

Once the sole refuge of sports bars and low-brow eateries, Happy Hour has gone mainstream. Seeking the afterwork cocktail crowd, higher end restaurants are dreaming up fantabulous cheap eats between 4 and 6pm (and sometimes beyond) to whet your appetite…and your thirst. Some are even starting reverse happy hours between 8 and 9:30 to grab late-nighters.

Read on for some of our faves, and add your own.

Healdsburg’s “Just don’t call it Happy Hour” hour

According to Barndiva’s Jil Hale, the local cocktail cops aren’t too hot on restaurants hosting “official” happy hours, so they’ve gotten around the issue by calling it the Mellow Hour. Which is appropriate considering the level of grand mixololgy happening at this Slow Food-inspired eatery. From Wed-Friday, Barndiva offers up its specialty cocktails for $8. During Sunday Brunch, in addition to their infamous ‘bartenders breakfast’ (Bloody Marys) lead bartender Spencer will make any cocktail you see in the Sunday papers for $8. Hale says the Times is the read of choice, but they’re open to anything. But here’s the real insider tip: On Wednesdays, Spencer previews his new cocktails and if you’re willing to be a guinea pig, he’ll knock down the price a bit for ya. Tell him BiteClub sent you.
231 Center St, Healdsburg, (707) 431-0100

Also in Healdsburg: Healdsburg Bar and Grill: 3:30 to 5:30pm M-Thurs, draft beer and cocktail specials. 245 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, (707) 433-3333

Santa Rosa Happy Hours

Crepes and cocktails
Bistro 29 will debut their new Happy Hour special, $5 crepes (including duck confit, ratatouille and ham & egg) starting April 7. In addition to their top-notch buckwheat crepes, they’ll offer $10 off any bottle of wine and champagne cocktails. 620 5th Street, Santa Rosa, (707) 546-2929.

Stout Brothers offers up $2 off all appetizers (including it’s fried green beans and beer-battered onion rings) from 4-6 pm, along with $4 imperial pints and $3 well drinks.527 4th Street: Santa Rosa, CA : (707) 636-0240

Stark’s Steakhouse
Until the Dow reaches 10,000, Stark’s Steakhouse is offering $2 and $3 apps (including their sliders) and their house brew between 3 and 6pm Mon-Friday. 521 Adams, Santa Rosa.

Equus
Two dollar Tuesdays are packing ’em into the revamped Fountaingrove Bar. Chef Jeff Reilly does killer carnitas, garlic fries and is adding new items like lettuce wraps. The bar does a reverse happy hour Monday-Thursday from 9:30pm-10:30pm.101 Fountaingrove Pkwy, Santa Rosa.

Russian River Brewing
Beer bites and Pliny! Happy hour M-F from 4-6:30pm and all day Sunday. 725 4th Street, Santa Rosa

Mary’s Pizza Shack
Monday through Friday from 4-6pm, Mary’s Pizza Shack will offer ½ off appetizers, $2.50 well drinks and $2.50 draft beer at the Fourth St. location in downtown SR.

Vintner’s Inn/Frontroom bar and lounge
Martini Mondays 5-7pm, Sip n Snack thursday from 5-7pm featuring wine and appetizer for $10. 4350 Barnes Rd, Santa Rosa.

Legends at Bennett Valley Golf Club
M-Sun, 3-6pm’ Quesadilla, nachos, sliders Thai wings, lettuce wraps, $3.50 to $4.50 plus drink specials.3330 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa.

Third Street Aleworks
Hoppy Hour, $2.75 pints on weekdays from 4 – 6 PM

The Belvedere
Happy hour daily between 4-6pm, $2 Bud, Coors and Miller and well drinks are $2.50. Wash it all down with one of their tasty burgers when the kitchen opens at 5pm. 727 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.

The Classic
Ausiello’s has been doing Happy Hour for 27 years. Check in from 5 to 6:30pm daily when they offer up .25 wings, breadsticks and discouts on appetizers along with $2 Budweiser pints. Also doing a reverse HH daily from 8:30 to 9pm. 609 5th St, Santa Rosa.

Margarita Madness: Las Guitarras
Friday night Happy Hour from 4 to 6pm with hot wings, beans & chorizo along with top-shelf margaritas and tequila specials ranging from $5.75 to $7.50.7384 Commerce Blvd, Cotati – (707) 792-4380

Penngrove Bar Bites
Humble Pie’s sharing the grub love with next door neighbor, The Black Cat Bar. While you’re downing a pint, grab hold of a housemade beer pretzel with spicy mustard, foccaccia pizza with fresh veggies, a BLT sandwich or cupcakes. Most items are $5 or less (except the BLT, which is $10 and includes a salad.) 0056 Main Street Penngrove California. 707-664-8779.

Join the Happy Hour Roll Call in the BiteClub forums.