Everyone loves getting a discount, no matter where or in what situation. This is particularly true with alcohol since the price of beer, wine, and specialty cocktails are increasingly on the rise in American cities. Many companies are leaving work earlier a few times a month to treat their employees to a company hour. This builds chemistry, increases the bonds between employees, improves morale, and is plain fun.
When heading out to your favorite roof deck restaurant, you’re likely looking for discounted food as well as drinks. Appetizers, tapas, small plates—whatever you call them, they are fun, easy, and usually inexpensive snacks, particularly if you make it into the coveted happy hour window.
In this article, we’re going to break down what happy hour actually is (for potential younger readers), and rank some of the most common happy hour foods that exist across restaurants in America today. Keep reading to discover the best-discounted snacks to enjoy while drinking a beer that’s marked down a few bucks.
First, What Is a Happy Hour?
I’m glad you asked. If you’ve never experienced a happy hour before, you’ve missed out on some of the best deals around. A happy hour is generally a segmented period of time where drinks, snacks, and other perks are offered at a discounted price. This is generally between 3 and 6 p.m., during the slow hours of the restaurant’s daytime hours.
Common happy hour deals include half-priced appetizers, a few dollars off all draft beers or cocktails, or buy-one-get-one-free deals for small plates, mimosas, etc. While happy hours are traditionally attached to drink specials, restaurants have capitalized on food headliners on their happy hour menus.
Below, we break down our top five favorite happy hour deals that are common in the modern culinary world.
Top 5 Happy Hour Foods
1. Mozzarella sticks
What’s better than fried sticks of cheese? Mozzarella sticks are common happy hour items in almost all restaurants across the country, whether it’s a local spot or a popular chain. They pair well with many different types of cuisine and are generally people-pleasers as generally everyone loves cheese.
Dip them into marinara sauce, ranch, or another dipping sauce. They can be filled with numerous fillings, such as green chilis or jalapenos, making them versatile and customizable. You can generally find them on happy hour menus for around five dollars or less. They aren’t the most filling and are easily shareable, making them an easy selection at number five on this list.
2. French Fries (and other potato products)
What food is more versatile than a potato? Especially when it comes to happy hour, potatoes allow for some fun finger foods to hold you over while you wait for your entree. You can make cheese fries, potato skins, truffle fries, homemade kettle chips, and more. You can pair your potato dish with several garnishes and dipping sauces, making for a variety of different-tasting dishes using the same ingredients.
On happy hour menus, baskets of fries or potato skins are very common and usually inexpensive, unless they use expensive ingredients, like truffle toppings. Potatoes are easy to serve in bars as well as restaurants, and it’s hard to find a culinary place of business that doesn’t carry them. When getting together for a beer or ball game, grab some fries also.
3. Charcuterie Boards
For large groups of people, charcuterie boards provide a slew of finger foods and snacks that pair well together and are easily shareable. Most charcuterie boards come with various types of meat, like sausage and pepperonis, various kinds of cheese, crackers, fruit, and other tweaks based on the restaurant serving them.
As a more expensive happy hour item than most, you get more food than most appetizers provide. Pair a red wine with a cheese board with some meat and fruit to feel more festive and a little more upscale than potato skins. While they aren’t the most fulfilling, they take a while to take down. This way, your entree arrives before you know it, and you still have servings of your charcuterie board to finish.
4. Chips and Dip
There are so many things you can do with chips and dip. There is chips and salsa, chips and queso, chips and guacamole, chips and french dip, chips and spinach artichoke dip, and so much more. This is one of the most common and easiest things to share in a group setting, and often happy hour deals will provide more than one dip at a time.
Many restaurants make their own tortillas and tortilla chips, which take your appetizer to the next level. This salty, shareable snack is as American as apple pie and is sure to please everyone at the table. If they don’t like guacamole, opt for some queso as well.
At last, we’ve reached the king of all happy hour foods: wings. These delicious, meaty snacks are easily shareable and come with various flavors sure to satisfy everyone at the table. The only issue with wings is that they go quickly once they hit the table. This is the bar food of all bar foods and therefore is offered more often than the other common happy hour foods.
Wings are perfect for catching a game and having a beer after work. They’re messy, primal foods that are satisfying in the best way. They’re versatile, inexpensive, and delicious. They can be boneless or traditional. They can be drums or flats. They can be any flavor you want (depending on the restaurant). They can also be ordered as an entree. Wings really give you everything you want in a happy-hour snack. The only drawback is that they can be quite messy, but often that’s part of the fun.
Which happy hour food is your favorite? Did we leave something off the list? That’s the beauty of happy hour: there are so many fun selections and foods restaurants can offer. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank to get them. Nothing beats discounted drinks and snacks.