There are two bright social spots in this dark, dark world: cheap drinks and cheap food. And though there are a mere handful of blessed bars that serve up free snacks and hot dogs all drinking day long (here's looking at you, Rudy's), there are still more spots that combine solid happy hour drink deals with discount grub. Here are our favorite happy hours with food in the city; leave yours in the comments, and check out last year's picks for best happy hours if you're looking for more booze-heavy deals.
MERMAID INN & MERMAID OYSTER BAR: The Mermaid Empire is abundant with good deals on great food, and the happy hour deals at all three of its locations are no exception. Happy hour generally runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., though it's an all-night deal on Mondays and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends in the East and Greenwich Villages. Typically expensive cocktails like aperol spritzes and Mermaid Marys are knocked down to $7, with wine and draft beers clocking in at $6 and $5, respectively. More importantly, the eateries offer seafood snacks like fried oysters ($3.50), fish tacos ($3) and shrimp & avocado sliders ($7.50), along with $1 East Coast oysters and littleneck clams.
The Mermaid Inn has two locations: 96 2nd Avenue between East 5th and 6th Streets in the East Village (212-674-5870, themermaidnyc.com) and at 568 Amsterdam Avenue between 87th and 88th Streets on the Upper West Side (212-799-7400, themermaidnyc.com). The Mermaid Oyster Bar is located at 79 MacDougal Street near Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village (212-260-0100, themermaidnyc.com).
FONDA: Mexican eatery Fonda is a tad pricey on the regular, but if you can snag a spot at the bar during happy hour, you can score food for $6 and drinks for $4 to $7. Happy hour times vary by location (typically 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily), but runs all night on Mondays in the East Village and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays in Park Slope. Cheap eats include guacamole, flautas de pollo, quesadillas and taquitos San Andres; classic margaritas, sangria and frozen Rosalitas are $6, flavored margaritas are $7, beer is $4 and wine is $5.
Fonda has three locations in NYC: 40 Avenue B between East 3rd and 4th Streets in the East Village (646-854-8581, fondarestaurant.com); 189 9th Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets in Chelsea (917-525-5252, fondarestaurant.com), and at 434 7th Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets in Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-369-3144, fondarestaurant.com).
LOBSTER JOINT: We've said it before and we'll say it again and again—the Lobster Joint has a dope happy hour. Though the fish shack was stripped of its LES outpost last year, the Greenpoint flagship's still rolling out $1 oysters and $4 lobster, crab cake, and fried oyster sliders from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. And yes, there are drink deals, duh—draft beers run $4 and pitchers are $16, with cocktails running $6 and cocktail pitchers $24. You'll still wait a small lifetime for the G, but at least you'll be full (and drunk).
Lobster Joint is located at 1073 Manhattan Avenue between Eagle and Dupont Streets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-389-8990, lobsterjoint.com).
THE CELLAR AT BEECHER'S HANDMADE CHEESE: The mac and cheese whipped up at this Flatiron cheese shop-meets-eatery may not be the "world's best," as it proclaims, but it's certainly one of the best in the city. And it's only $8 during the Cellar's daily 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour, along with $7 simple and Caesar salads, and $8 cheese plates. There's also a daily $5 infused cocktail special, and house whites and reds are only $6. Drink enough and you'll find yourself laying out big bucks to drag home hunks of the Marco Polo Reserve on sale at the shop upstairs, not that there's anything wrong with that. Cheese is a blessing.
The Cellar at Beecher's Handmade Cheese is located at 900 Broadway at 20th Street in Flatiron (212-466-3340, beechershandmadecheese.com).
DOMAINE BAR A VINS: I'm not usually a proponent of the $1 oyster happy hour deal, because oysters, while delicious, are more like a puff of sea air than real sustenance. But seasoned oenophiles and fans of the finest boxed Chianti alike rave about this romantic Long Island City wine bar, where you can score six oysters and a glass of wine for $12, from 5 to 7 p.m. daily. You can purchase a cheese plate for full price if the oysters aren't enough for you, and they offer free olive dishes for all imbibers. There's also live music on certain weekday evenings; stop by after a trip to nearby PS 1 if you don't live or work in the neighborhood.
Domaine Wine Bar is located at 50-04 Vernon Boulevard in Hunters Point/Long Island City, Queens (718--784-2350, domainewinebar.com).
RYE: We've lauded Rye for its decadent brunch dishes before, but it turns out they make a mean cheeseburger, too. And from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, that baby can be yours for just $5—plus, Rye's very booze-heavy Old Fashioneds run only $5, too. Sadly, the deal is only available if you sit at the bar, but you will leave both well-fed and well-lubricated.
Rye is located at 247 South 1st Street between Roebling and Havemeyer Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-8047, ryerestaurant.com).
GEORGIA'S EASTSIDE BBQ: If it's beer and barbecue that draws you to the happiest few hours of the day, this LES smoke joint offers $2 PBRs and Miller High Lifes, plus $5 sandwiches like pulled pork, ribs, BBQ chicken and fried catfish. Be advised: your window here is narrow—happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday—but if you've got an unorthodox work schedule, it's a solid deal.
Georgia's Eastside BBQ is located at 192 Orchard Street between Houston and Stanton Streets on the Lower East Side (212-253-6280, georgiaseastsidebbq.com).
ROSA MEXICANO: Rosa Mexicano's New York outposts have scary $$$ notations next to their Yelp pages, and they do indeed serve a $14 guacamole, albeit a delicious one prepared tableside. But if you stop by for happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, you can score $7 flautas, empanadas, quesadillas and tacos. And obviously, there are some sweet booze deals—sangria, wine and cocktails run only $6, select beers are $5, and typically pricey margaritas clock in at $8.
Rosa Mexicano has three locations in Manhattan: 9 East 18th Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue in Union Square (212-533-3350, rosamexicano.com); 61 Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-977-70700, rosamexicano.com), and at 1063 1st Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets in Midtown East (212-753-7407, rosamexicano.com).
TROPHY BAR: Trophy Bar's perhaps best enjoyed late at night (dance floor, y'all!), or in warm weather, when you can take part in Taco Tuesday while feasting outdoors on its patio. But still, the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. happy hour's a steal, and the food is nothing to sneer at. Grilled cheeses, cheeseburgers and veggie burgers run $5 a piece, plus they dole out $4 drink deals to wash down your buns.
Trophy Bar is located at 351 Broadway near Keap Street in South Williamsburg (347-227-8515, trophybar.com).
MIRIAM: Middle Eastern eatery Miriam does wonders with Mediterranean plates, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, you can score mezze dishes for half off, provided you sit at the bar. Yes, tzatziki makes for an excellent meal. For added lubrication, draft beers and wines run 2 for 1.
Miriam is located at 79 5th Avenue at Prospect Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-622-2250, miriamrestaurant.com).