Expert Tips


Cheers! Belly Up to the Bar for Happy Hour in Santa Fe

Ever wonder what the origin of the term “Happy Hour” is? A bit of research yielded some conflicting information. All agreed on two things: one is that the term originated in 1920 in the US Navy, denoting a time when sailors had a few hours to engage in entertaining pastimes. The other is that widespread use of the phrase came about after a 1959 mention in the venerable Saturday Evening Post. The term has come to mean that time, just after work, when people kick back a bit after a long day and get “happy.” Traditionally, bars and lounges offer reduced drink prices and often discounted appetizers. Santa Fe has a variety of Happy Hour options in a range of venues from swanky to casual. Some places offer discounted food options so it can be a relatively inexpensive way to grab dinner out. Some only offer their full-priced bar menu and others have no food at all. Besides early evening Happy Hours, some places have mid-afternoon ones as well, including “Hoppy Hour” at Low ‘n Slow and a 3pm tapas and drink time at La Boca. A few places such as Secreto Lounge and The Living Room at Loretto have late night Happy Hours as well. Not all places in Santa Fe have full liquor licenses; if that’s important to you, check with them before you go. Wherever you choose to unwind and socialize with friends or make new ones, drink moderately and have a great time!

Blue Rooster
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Salazar/Ultraviolet Marketing


Blue Rooster is Santa Fe's only acknowledged gay bar. Everyone is welcome and the crowd tends to be mixed. Ambiance is chic and upscale. BR offer two Happy Hour events each week: Thursday's Lady's Happy Hour attracting a mostly lesbian crowd and Friday's Gentleman's Happy Hour, a mostly gay event. Both run from 5 to7pm held offer special drink pricing. Draft beers are $3. They have Blue Moon and locally brewed Santa Fe Nut Brown Ale. There's also a dollar off both bottled beers and wines. The Happy Hours "seem to attract a very professional crowd interested in making new friends and having great conversation with like-minded individuals." Many who come for the early-evening drink specials and socializing stay through the night when the DJs take over and the place rocks. The secret is, if you stay through until the 9pm music starts, you'll avoid the cover charge.

Low 'n Slow Lowrider Bar
Photo courtesy of Heritage Hotels


Low 'n Slow Lowrider Bar at the Hotel Chimayó pays homage to the small Northern New Mexico town that it's named for and the lowrider culture. If you don't know what a "lowrider" is, Google it. The bar's décor reflects this car-centric cultural phenomenon. While the food and drink menus are eclectic, there's a distinctly New Mexican flair. L 'n S hosts two reduced-price events daily. "Hoppy" Hour from 1 to 3pm offers $4 draft beers, including Santa Fe Pale Ale, Newcastle Nut Brown and Monks Ale as well as $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. Happy Hour held from 4 to 7pm features $5 well drinks and $6 Frito Pies. The bar mainly attracts both hotel guests and a young local clientele.

Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins


Love microbrews? Sample them at the source at Blue Corn Café & Brewery's Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm. They offer $1.00 off beers and well drinks. While many take advantage of the in-house brewed beers and ales, they also have specialty cocktails and a wine list as well. You can sit in the bar with its widescreen TVs and catch a sporting event or, if you prefer, site in the large dining room which can accommodate you along with a host of friends. In warmer weather, there are two outdoor patios. Want something to munch on? Their full menu is available. Their downtown sister restaurant, Blue Corn Café on Water Street, offers the same Happy Hour specials.

The Staab House
Photo courtesy of The Staab House


The Staab House, the bar at the historic La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, offers customers an intimate spot for Happy Hour food and drink. It's offered twice daily from Monday through Friday. There's an early one from 4 to 6pm and a late-night version from 9 to 10pm. All food on their bar menu is half off and there's both a daily drink special and featured beer. The bar offers three distinct seating areas such as the Salon with its wood burning fireplace or the Rose Room. In warmer weather have your drinks on the adjacent outdoor patio. Great news for dog owners: if you're out walking Fido on a spring, summer of early fall evening and want to stop for a drink, dogs are welcome on the patio.

The Living Room at Loretto
Photo courtesy of The Inn and Spa at Loretto


Love sipping while ensconced on a comfortable sofa or chair in front of a fire? Head for The Living Room at Loretto where they offer intimate fireside seating as well as traditional bar stools and table seating. The Living Room, adjacent to the lobby, offers two daily reduced price events. "Happy Hour and a Half" is from 5 to 6:30pm and their late-night "Reverse Happy Hour" is from 9 to 10pm. You'll find $4 draft beers (all local) which include Monk's Ale, La Cumbre IPA, Bosque Lager and Bosque Scotia Scotch Ale, as well as house wines, house margaritas and well drinks priced at $5. There's also a selection of appetizers also priced at $5.



Does the word "Agave" bring tequila to mind? It's fitting that the hottest-selling cocktail at Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa is the Picante Margarita, featuring house-infused Jalapeno Espolon Reposado, fresh lime and Cointreau. Or you can opt for either the specially priced La Casa Margarita or a well drink, all $5 during their Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7pm. If cocktails aren't your thing, you'll find beer and wine specials as well. All draft brews, which include a selection of locally-produced ones, are $4. There are also four specially-priced wines on offer. Sit at the bar, one of the barroom tables or head for the back room with its intimate ambiance and sofa and easy chair seating. Relax as you sip your drink and nibble on $4 menu items or $1.50 oysters. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists.

Pranzo Italian Grill
Photo courtesy of Pranzo


Head for Happy Hour at Pranzo Italian Grill, take advantage of their drink specials and Early bird dinner pricing and you can dine without breaking the bank. The daily Happy Hour from, from 4 to 6pm offers half-off wines by the glass (they offer about 20 selections) as well as half-priced draft beers and well drinks. The overlapping three-course prix-fixe dinner served from 4 to 5:45pm daily offers a choice of salad, a half-order of pasta including such tempting offerings as Spaghetti con Gamberoni with shrimp, peas and sun-dried tomatoes or Spaghettini con Calamari and a choice of gelato or sorbet all for $14.95. Gluten-free pastas can be substituted for a surcharge. Pranzo also offers their regular bar menu during Happy Hour.

Il Piatto
Photo courtesy of Il Piatto


Want to take an international jaunt for Happy Hour? Head for Il Piatto Santa Fe's "Italian Farmhouse Kitchen" and you'll feel like you've arrived in Italy. The restaurant, specializing in Italian wines, boasts a custom glass and iron wine cave for storage, a standalone bar where you can enjoy wine and a light bite for happy hour or perhaps you'd prefer a wine barrel table in an intimate alcove. They host two daily Happy Hours, the first is from 4:30 to 6pm and the late-night one takes place from 9 to 10:30pm. During these times you will discover half-price wine specials from their extensive list. There are always between 15 and 20 selections by the glass each day. There's also a special HH menu with half-priced appetizer and pasta specials.

Taberna La Boca
Photo courtesy of Doug Merriam


Taberna La Boca and its sister restaurant, La Boca, both offer Happy Hours and you can't miss at either. If you want to make your HH into an early dinner, head for Taberna where you can enjoy selected tapas and reduced price wines. Chef James Campbell Caruso's tempting small plates bring the foods of the Basque region of Spain and France to Santa Fe. Flying solo? Take a seat at the bar, with its tempting array of some of the evening's offerings, or at the community table. During Happy hour, from 5 to 6pm daily, selected tapas are as much as 50 percent off menu prices and you'll also find beer and wine deals. There are at least two red and two white wines running between $6 and $7 a glass as well as sherry specials. In addition, there are at least two draft beers offered for $3.

Secreto Lounge
Photo courtesy of Secreto Lounge


Secreto Lounge, the popular bar at the St. Francis Hotel, is known for its accomplished mixologists. Their daily Happy Hour from 4 to 7pm offers $7 specialty cocktails, $5 draft beers and $1 off the over a dozen wines offered by the glass. Draft brews include the local Monk's Amber Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Heineken and Guinness. Hand-crafted cocktails are all made from scratch with fresh ingredients and an emphasis on organic spirits and produce. Customers can enjoy their drinks in the bar, take them into the spartan white lobby (said to be inspired by New World Spanish monasteries) or in warm weather, sit and sip under the hotel's front portal. It's a prime people-watching location. Hungry? Order from the bar menu provided by Tabla de los Santos, the independent restaurant located in the hotel


Meet Billie Frank

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the...  More About Billie