October 7

SLU Happy Hours

Designed To Unwind: Happy Hour in South Lake Union

The South Lake Union neighborhood exudes a “work hard, play hard” mentality. At one of the centers of Seattle’s economy, thousands of people file into office buildings each day, and when they file out, it’s time to find a strong drink and a bite to eat. Enter happy hour.

Whether your day was spent hard at work at the desk or maybe just walking the shops and shores of the neighborhood, discounted food and beverage starting as early as 2 pm provide just the afternoon pick-me-up you need. Most places offer the discount until around 6 pm, but then after a quick break for dinner, continue it into the late evening.

One of the biggest bonuses of South Lake Union for your afternoon drink is happy hour with a view. El Chupacabra (4–6 pm and 10 pm–Midnight every day) offers just that, sticking out into the water on Chandler’s Cove. The Mexican-style cantina serves margaritas, draft beer, and well drinks for a dollar off, alongside a small menu of happy-hour snacks, including an order of classic bar nachos. The long, narrow bar has plenty of space for big groups, but the real coup is finding a space on the patio that runs along the west side. Sunshine, a lake, and views of the Space Needle are the perfect side dish for margaritas.

Further down the same pier you can head south in Latin America at Brazilian steakhouse Novilhos (4 pm–close every day). While the main restaurant is always in all-you-can-eat meat mode, at the bar and on the patio (which shares the same excellent view as El Chupacabra), you can enjoy discounted drinks of all kinds along with Brazilian snacks.

Heading inland from the lake, but keeping with a watery theme, Flying Fish (3-6 pm and 8:30 pm–close every day) serves up a seafood-soaked selection of appetizers along with discounted drinks on its happy-hour menu. The stars of the show are the $0.88 oysters, which have a justifiable limit of two dozen per person, because it’s worth ordering at least that many. The restaurant retains its elegant fish-house theme that makes it a destination for business dinners, so the draft beers, martinis, and wines ($5, $6, and $6, respectively) are high-value buys, and the fresh fish used in dishes such as ahi tuna poke and seafood pot pie is nothing but the best quality.


Cuoco (2-6 pm weekdays, 4:30–6 pm weekends), Tom Douglas Restaurants’ Italian spot, brings heartier fare to the forefront. While the drink selection is limited to a few canned and draft beers and one of each color of wine, the happy hour food menu reads like the full menu of an Italian bistro: marinated eggplant or grilled beef tongue bruschetta to start, then pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, or gnocchi, followed by an entrée of crispy sweetbreads. High bar tables make for easy after-work gossiping, while a few large tables in private alcoves mean that big groups can easily celebrate loudly without disturbing other diners.

But the neighborhood’s most boisterous—and mysterious—happy hour is far rarer than these daily ones. Once a month—except in summer—on the third Tuesday of the month, Whole Foods at Westlake and Denny opens its oyster cases and welcomes the entire neighborhood (or so it seems) to enjoy $0.69 oysters from 5-7 p.m. With beers going for $1.99 and wine for $4.99, this is one of the cheapest, best-value happy hours in town—when you can confirm it’s happening and get through the crowds (tip: check the store’s Facebook page to be the first to know about it)!

Story and Photos by Naomi Tomky

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle