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Aug 3, 2012 10:45 AM

Best happy hour in Monmouth county?

I have a confession. I'm obsessed with happy hour. I can never seem to say no to cheap, delicious food and an excuse to start drinking immediately after work. I thought I'd start a thread to share my current faves. Please share your favorite spots!

Current favorite:
Pagano's UVA, Bradley Beach
The drink specials are on the weak side (1-2$ off all drinks) but their happy hour food selection is simply incredible. They have a huge menu of 5$ items and everything I tried on my first visit was generous and delicious. The pesto shrimp was humongous and sauce tasty. Beans and escarole (2 bucks extra for sausage) was filling enough to be a meal by itself. Also enjoyed the steak sandwich and clams casino/oreganata. Bar staff and local crowd are friendly and you'll feel right at home even if you're going solo. I plan on returning regularly.

Oldie but a goodie:
Jack's, Long Branch
Best wings in the area for 30c, are you kidding me? I've been eating these wings regularly for years but I've yet to tire of them. Throw in 1$ beers and you have the perfect inexpensive dive bar happy hour experience. Pro-tip: Ask for your 1$ Bud/Bud light with a lime. And go on Wednesdays, when at 7pm their huge selection of pints become 3$ a pop. Only drawback - the place got *really* noisy after the "renovation."

Honorable mentions:
Fish, Asbury Park
The food's honestly not that great. I've yet to eat anything at happy hour here and actually want to go back for more. But man, they're trying. A big selection of 5$ plates, and 6$ martinis makes this one worth visiting from time to time.

Bogart's, Eatontown
This is the place to go on Fridays: destroy their free buffet while kicking back with 3$ pints, 5$ martinis. If the free buffet's not your jam order up a bunch of their apps - they're half price!

Bar A, Belmar
Or you can kick it at Bar A on Fridays, where they rock out with a pretty generous buffet, and 2.25 Bud & BL pints. Drink specials aren't the best but nobody serves up better free food.

Not happy hour but feels like it:
Brickwall, Asbury Park
Head over on Monday nights at 8pm for "Rare and Raw," when they tap a special rare keg of beer and serve up dollar oysters. DOLLAR OYSTERS, ya heard????

Johnny Mac, Asbury Park
Every Sunday is the funnest day ever at Johnny Mac where they pour legit 3$ bloodys and mimosas. As if that alone wouldn't be awesome enough, they set up a FREE OMELET STATION to knock your socks off. How the hell do you top that?

Not gonna go there any more:
Avenue, Long Branch
This place used to have the sickest happy hour, with half price everything at the bar and 1.25 oysters. No more. Oysters are up to 1.75 and their bar menu sucks now. Off my list.

What are your favorite happy hour spots?

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  1. Excellent topic and list!!!

    It's Friday !!!!! So what time am I meeting you at Bogarts? (Closest to home for me and I'm dropping my son at the mall for the movies)

    On a more personal and somber noteI have never been to Johnny Mac's but my nephew use to work there and he told me to stop by dozens of time saying what a cool place it is to work and hang out at. Sadly my nephew passed a couple of weeks ago..........I need to get there soon and have one for him. RIP RJ.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jrvedivici

      joon - Although I don't having anything to add, I wanted to thank you for an excellent post. Anyone care to start a thread for Ocean County as well?

    2. Joon this one is for you Bogarts is not too bad!

      4 Replies
      1. re: jrvedivici

        Hey I was actually there today too! Sorry we didn't get to meet up. Give me a holler if you see me there, I'm the asian guy with a blonde ponytail...kinda hard to miss me haha.

        They used to put out much more food back in the Ft. Monmouth days but lately the "buffet" has shrunk to just 2-3 items. Regardless, I'll take free food any day of the week.

        In the OP I stated Bogart's beers are 3 bucks - correction, they are 2.50. And they have a pretty decent draft selection too - I don't know any other place pouring things like Franziskhaner for 2.50.

        I stopped by today with my lady friend - ate til full, had a beer each and split a creme brulee - the tab: 11.71. If we skipped dessert it would have been 5$. You can't beat that.

        Sorry to hear about your nephew. :( Do stop by Johnny Mac one of these days...IMO the best time for it is Sunday brunch, although the free pizza's not a bad deal either.

        1. re: joonjoon

          I did see you there Joon I sat 3 stools to the left of your lady friend. I was wearing the suit jacket and was joined by a buddy by the time you left. Believe it or not I did recognize you from another run in we have had. You were the first person to turn me onto Chowhound! You actually were a customer of mine at a restaurant I owned and you questioned me about a few things, when I asked about the source of your questions you said you read it on a restaurant review site "Chowhound" and I joined that night.

          FYI that was probably a good 6 years ago but when I saw you at Bogarts I immediately recognized you. (my seating choice was purely coincidental I'm not actually stalking you lol there was that large party occupying the back half of the bar).

          1. re: jrvedivici

            I remember seeing you! Grey suit jacket I think? I can't believe you recognized me from 6 years ago...that's insane. I'm honored. :D What was the restaurant you owned? What a small world. :)

            Next time you see me please say happy hour round's on me!

            1. re: joonjoon

              Yes grey suit jacket is correct! I posted the "here's to you" post while sitting there waiting to see if you would receive it via smart phone. Since you were with a lady friend I didn't want to intrude......although I did gaze over the desert tray when they brought it over too you. Lol

              I don't post about my ventures or affiliations I also don't comment on anything I'm involved in so I will save where we met for when I take you up on that next happy hour offer.

              I was actually thinking about trying to organize a Chowhound meet and greet one night. It seems the NJ board has a considerable Monmouth County participation. I thought it might be fun together for cocktails at a location. Just a thought let me know your feelings.

      2. Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant, Long Branch
        Can't beat a dozen clams on the half shell for $7. Many times you get a great ocean breeze at no charge & the free buffet is always changing.

        1. Ahh, Happy Hour, a subject that even as I get older still seems to make me smile (I was gonna say "happy", but that seemed redundant).. I have been to a few in my day. Some of the old classics around here were to be found at Kelly's and Rod's, a couple steam trays of pub fare, cheap domestic pints and rail booze, and a three o'clock opening bell. Haven't been to either place in quite a long time though as I felt the quality of the food began to diminish a great deal with the economy.

          The food at UVA is truly a good deal. As you said, they're not really knocking much off the drink prices, but if I recall correctly, there are some decent wines at reasonable prices.

          As to BA, yes the food offered is plentiful, but quantity over quality is not this 'hounds raison d'etre. Moreover, the beer selection, at least as of March was horrendous. Sorry, but unless they're giving me $2.50 a pint, they can leave the Bud in the dirty tap lines. Nevertheless, in the winter, if someone we know has a "free hour," that two stop train ride and short walk are a worthwhile investment in a fun evening.

          Now, if I may be so bold as to supplement your well-crafted list, I submit, first, The Shipwreck. There is an assortment of fruits and cheeses, a very good, balanced, albeit limited, selection of craft beer pints for three bucks, and a chef's station where a complimentary plate is prepared upon your order. We have enjoyed such Happy Hour oddities as braised short ribs, crab cakes, squid ink pasta, etc. If my memory serves there are also discounts on wine and rail cocktails.* Oh, and beware the Cougars on Thurdays and Fridays in the Summer - much better place after Labor Day.**

          The other one I'd throw out is mostly for the old folks like me. The $5 - Martini, Wine by the Glass, and Bar Menu Happy Hour at The Mill is quality. We particularly like it around the Holiday Season when there's a guy playing Christmas songs on the piano. Pure kitsch in the best, John Water's, kinda way.*** Just avoid the fried calamari, which after a couple gentle explanations they still seem to think that plating in a high-sided bowl is a good idea (hint - after a minute, the steam retained by the bowl "washes" away the otherwise tasty, crispy coating. Or, better yet, see if they will bring it to you on a flat plate.). Otherwise, the food is pretty much on par with that at UVA. The crowd, however, is a bit on the down side of middle aged.

          Third, I'll throw out Nicholas. Frankly, I don't remember if it's a Happy Hour thing**** or just the bar pricing, but it seemed to me and a friend who's a sometimes 'hound, that selective eating at the bar there can be a fantastic value for the "quality first" crowd.

          *I will also note that they have gotten pretty attentive to their cocktail service over the past half decade. Once upon a time ordering a martini there was a joke - one was served a cold glass of vodka with a stick of olives. More recently, they even graciously discarded a spoiled bottle of vermouth for me when I pointed out the off flavors.

          **Then again, what around here isn't?

          ***There's live "entertainment" other times, but nothing quite as much fun. I mean, "Oh, guess what, honey, I think he's gonna do one of those Billy Joel Medleys." Seriously, learn a Leon Russell song or something.

          ****Maybe somebody can help me out here?

          8 Replies
          1. re: MGZ

            Thanks MGZ, that was an epic response. There are certainly two camps of happy hours - high end stuff on a discount (oh how I miss Avenue for that), and stuffing your face for cheap. I enjoy both endeavors. :)

            I'll definitely check out the places you mentioned though. As for Nicholas, AFAIK they don't have any happy hour deal. But their 29$ prefix at the bar is impossible to beat, and their small plates are a great value. Their bar is my absolute favorite place to eat in the state.

            Between the food, drink, and cougars, it looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the Shipwreck!

            1. re: joonjoon

              Beware the Shipwreck (I almost feel like that should be read with a pirate voice), though. No, not the super tan divorcees prowling the bar, nor the "gimme the biggest f*ckin' lobster youse got" guy, but the "I'm warm and fuzzy from the coupla three dollar Dogfish 90 minutes, so sure, I'd like to look at the menu" decision. Because, my friend joon, once they've got you thinking about the fine fare their busting out of the kitchen, it's hard not to succumb to the idea of at least a few oysters to "pair" with your IPA or the "you really liked the crabcake the last time we were here, honey" comments from around the corner.

              One thing to note, which I often find quite cool, is the fact that they don't have any televisions in the place. Personally, knowing that, at times, I revel in it. I mean, I'm not going there for Happy Hour if for some odd reason there's a baseball playoff game on, but at least I don't have to endure Fox News or CNBC when the bartenders don't know what else to do with the massive flat screens. I mean who really needs to watch stock quotes in a bar except guys trying to call attention to themselves - shit just look at your phone if you need to know whether Facebook plummeted again, everyone knows it was a bad idea to buy it.

              And, joon, should I see you there when we return for Happy Hours in the fall (and I do hope to see you enjoy), I will be the guy who needs a shave, perhaps a hair cut, still wearing flip flops, wearing an unadorned tee shirt, and accompanied by my beautiful wife. Nonetheless, I will "tip my cap" and offer you a smile. Otherwise, my promised commitment to anonymity prevails. Please, take no offense.

              1. re: MGZ

                Maybe you ought to pick a date, have everyone interested in showing up do so at the specified, and see who can figure who is who (or is it whom), based solely on description culled from their CH posts. The winner buys.


                1. re: missybean

                  Count me in. Summers are so boring when you are a teacher on break.

                  1. re: missybean

                    I'll take the lead on this tomorrow. Plan something for the following week the first Chowhound happy hour meet and greet mixer.

                2. re: joonjoon

                  "There are certainly two camps of happy hours - high end stuff on a discount (oh how I miss Avenue for that), and stuffing your face for cheap. I enjoy both endeavors."

                  I have a buddy. He's a bit north of fifty, a great musician, and plays in a couple local bands quite often. His father-in-law is the ultimate, living Happy Hour guide. I swear that old fellow knows what's available at every Happy Hour from here to his Winter retreat in Del Boca Vista. Every price, every discount, every worthwhile food, and every place where the grub sucks, but "at least it's free". Your post reminded me of him.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    I hope to be that awesome some day... lol!

                    1. re: joonjoon

                      Pssst Joon....look at the top of the topics on the NJ page.....hit me up you were the inspiratioin for this endeavor.

                      I concur on the desire to be as awesome as MGZ!!

              2. I must mention that Remington's in Manasquan simply can't be beat on Tuesdays. Any bottle of wine !/2 price all night and along with their 4-6 PM happy hour $6 plates at the bar make for a sweet deal. My husband and I finished three plates and a bottle of wine last week for a cost of $31, which is not bad at all.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CatLadyJan

                  You are absolutely right. Can't believe I forgot to mention it. Some clever six dollar cocktails on the list too.