It’s no secret that we’re fans of happy hour (be it at home or out on the town). I personally think that one of the best times to explore the best restaurants in La Jolla is during this fabulous time of day. We particularly like the food at Herringbone—Chef Brian Malarkey is at the helm (a former Top Chef finalist and the winning mentor on ABC’s The Taste)—along with its lounge’s modern-rustic feel that is accented by 100-year-old olive trees, colorful tiles and low-key vibe.
Herringbone doesn’t take reservations for happy hour which happens Monday through Friday between 4:oo p.m. – 6:00 p.m. They actually call it oyster hour because oysters are $1 during this time along. Other discounted bites and drinks (select wines are $6 and select beers are $5) are available, too. If you plan on making it your dinner, plan to order from the main menu, too, which is what we did.
This looks like a lot of food for a family of three (it is). We like to sample a variety of dishes so tend to over-order. And, for once, I happened to take a photo of each dish.
Rest assured that there were plenty of not-pictured discounted drinks enjoyed as well. Speaking of cocktails, a must-order (regular menu) at both Searsucker and Herringbone (they are sister restaurants) is called a Peter Rabbit which has Pimm’s #1, bruised basil, and pressed lemon that is garnished with a tasty pickled carrot. You can add a bonus shot of cucumber gin, if you like. So tasty.
(Click on any photo to enlarge and view as a slideshow.)
The oyster hour choice is determined daily by the chef, so we ordered a half-dozen of these as well as a half-dozen oyster sampler. I’m not an oyster connoisseur but do tend to prefer the smaller ones which were in the sampler. Your server will be able to guide you. All of them went down, with pleasure.
Three Cheese Plate (Daughter’s Pick)
The selections were Verde Capra, San Andreas, and Barely Buzzed with dried fruit and nuts. This was mostly for my daughter but we enjoyed it.
Mussels Tikka Marsala
Fans of Indian food, we tried this happy hour dish for the first time and it was just O.K. The sauce overpowered the mussels but dipping the flatbread in it was quite tasty.
Whole Fish Ceviche
This is one of my favorite things on the menu, but it was smaller than the last time I ordered it. It’s a commitment at $26 but if you like refreshing ceviche with citrus you should try it. Some people are turned off by the presentation but we aren’t.
Fennel Sausage Flatbread (Husband’s Pick)
This was my husband’s favorite order of the night. Herringbone is both known for its seafood and olive wood-fried flatbreads. But this version had a perfect combination of tomato, Castlevetrano olives, pesto, and hand-stretched mozzarella.
Baja Stone Crab (My Pick)
This dish takes fried rice to an entirely new level. Big chunks of crab rest in between rice that is fried to a crisp for a perfect little crunch in each bite. The dish also has Chinese sausage, ginger, cilantro, chilies, peanuts. I’ve never had such a unique combination of flavor and texture but if you like Asian-fusion style food, try this.
Herringbone Sundae (Just… Yum)
Despite being stuffed with food and booze, we opted for dessert. I’ve posted this already on Instagram and Facebook but will include it again here. Behold, the Herringbone sundae with chocolate ice cream, sea salt blondies (!!!) , marshmallow cream, caramelized cocoa nibs, and creamy caramel.
It’s just beyond words, really. In fact, most desserts here are.
On this occasion there was basically one server taking orders for the entire (full) lounge. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard in a similar situation as she did so it didn’t bother us. Truthfully, I never would have noticed until my husband pointed it out.
There were families, couples, and groups of friends enjoying the festive atmosphere. Dress for happy hour is fairly mixed with most people dressed fairly casually. Check the calendar to see what’s happening on the day you’d like to go. For example, Mondays have $1 oysters all night long.
Do we recommend it? Definitely, yes. Have you been?