Happy Hour doesn’t have to be unhealthy

A Healthy Happy Hour might strike you as something of an oxymoronic concept. Surprisingly, even in our beach-lovin’, body-conscious city, the majority of all happy hour menus are bursting with guilty pleasures including fried calamari, loaded nachos and fried fish tacos. On the extreme end? Duck fat fries, fried brie, and bacon and Gorgonzola cheeseburgers. Cue waistline groaning.

But staying healthy during these happiest of hours is possible with a few drinking tips:

  • Stay away from sugary cocktails. Remember sugar turns to fat. Avoid rum and bourbon concoctions, and go for vodka or gin cocktails with no fruit juices or liqueurs added.
  • For wine, stick with low alcohol, dry whites, like pinot grigio, albariño, and vinho verde. Steer clear of high alcohol reds such as cabernet and syrah, which can reach nearly 200 calories per serving.
  • For craft beer, look for lagers (like pilsners), session beers, and those selections under 5 percent ABV. Each ½ percent you creep up in ABV, you increase your calorie count.

Ok, so keeping all of the above in mind, here are some of our favorite healthy food pairing options in San Diego:

Red Door

Go seasonal and sustainable with a fresh soup of the day ($5); Farm-to-Fork “veggies of the moment” with chimichurri, local olive oil, toasted pistachios ($6); vegan tacos, with cacao sea salt chili tortilla chips, organic black beans, local avocado, pico de gallo; and vegan cashew-nacho cheese ($5)

741 W. Washington St., Mission Hills, 619.295-6000 or

Harvest by the Patio

The Trio of Hummus ($8) is loaded with protein, fiber and minerals. Flavors include roasted garlic, black olive, and roasted red pepper (beta carotene!), served with spiced flatbread. Keep it fresh and healthy with Coconut Lime Ceviche ($8). This lower calorie option is made with cilantro, spicy pepitas and avocado. Happy Hour runs all day Monday and 4-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

369 10th Ave., East Village, 619.541.8301 or


Munch on a variety of healthy options that will leave you feeling light and lively, including edamame ($4), Shishito peppers ($5), black cod butter-lettuce cups ($8), yellowtail sashimi ($13) or Nobu Style sashimi tasting spoons with three styles ($13). Happy Hour is available in the bar and lounge area and runs from 5-7 p.m.

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, 207 Fifth Ave., downtown, 619.814.4124 or

The Patio on Lamont

Get your cruciferous veggie, legume, and healthy fats with cauliflower, smoked garbanzo, kalamata olive, pea tendrils, pine nut gremolata, and lemon vinaigrette in the Couscous Salad ($7). Happy Hour runs daily from 3-6 p.m.

4445 Lamont St., Pacific Beach, 858.412.4648 or

Farmer and the Seahorse

After a hike or round of golf, head to Brian Malarkey’s hotspot near Torrey Pines and get your veggies on with the Pickled Garden Vegetable Pot ($4) and Plancha Seared Baby Beets with Ricotta salt, hazelnuts and herb oil ($8). Also noteworthy is the sides of either curry roasted carrots with yogurt and mint or green beans with preserved lemon, garlic, shallot & chili flakes (both $4), for extra veggie goodness. Happy Hour runs 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

10996 Torreyana Rd., La Jolla, 858.260.5412 or