Get Happy with the top 20 happy hours in Kansas City
Bars and restaurants across the city were locked in a race to capture your drinking dollars before anyone ever uttered the word recession. From slightly sleazy to subtly swanky, and from Gladstone to South KC and all points in between, comes our list of the 20 best happy hours in the metro (on the Missouri side of the state line, anyway — see sidebar). So get there before the streetlights come on, Kansas City. You gotta work in the morning anyway.
1644 Wyandotte, 816-221-4713
4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
In about a year, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens. In the shadow of the massive unfinished structure is the Webster House, built as a school in 1885. Restored and reopened in 2002, the neo-Romanesque building now houses an antique store and a second-floor restaurant with one of the city’s finest happy hours. Get a seat in one of the three dining areas for this fancy drinking experience, complete with accommodating service, impressive views of the Crossroads, and $3 Guinness and Boulevard drafts, $5 select glasses of red and white wines and champagne, and $7 Kir Royales and Old Fashioneds. The beautifully crafted nibbles include $3 truffle fries, bamboo rice risotto, and Henning’s cheddar dip served with pretzel rolls (made exclusively for Webster House by Farm to Market). Experience Webster House’s happy hour before the performing-arts center opens and reservations stack up.
444 Ward Parkway, 816-931-5888
3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 p.m.-midnight
Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m Saturday
A key element of the wildly popular happy hour at Kona Grill: Patrons feel that they’re getting an awesome deal and that they’re trendy — at the same time. Friendly, sexy bartenders and servers present, without judgment or pretense, $3 Bud Light and Miller Lite drafts, $3.50 margaritas (this special price is for women only), $4.50 glasses of selected wines, four flavors of cosmopolitans, and $7 sake bombs at the marble bar or at one of the hightops next to open windows overlooking Ward Parkway. Food standouts include $3 maki rolls and $5.50 pizzas. The deals are available only in the bar or the lounge area. Those fill up fast, so hoof it after work, lest you get stuck in the back, eating a $17 plate of Big Island Meatloaf.
931 Broadway, 816-221-1888
2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Even Tom Pendergast would have appreciated today’s deals in the historic building that once housed his Prohibition-era office. For the price of a $4 minimum drink purchase, you can relax in a soft leather chair in the lounge of the dimly lighted bistro and enjoy selections from a solid $5 happy-hour menu. The generously portioned bar food includes fried green beans, risotto balls, and salmon BLT sliders. Selected martinis and glasses of red and white wines also run $5. The live piano music begins at 4 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. most other days, making this a relatively elegant place to entertain visitors or set up a romantic rendezvous.
1617 Main, 816-221-6272
3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close Monday-Saturday
Since opening Nara in October 2006, KC native Casey Adams has found steady success with his sleek and inviting neo-Japanese concept. A huge factor? His twice-daily happy hours, which offer $3 sushi rolls and Kirin drafts, $4 robata selections, $5 cosmos and $7 bottles of sake. “These days, even the celebrity chefs know you need affordable items on your menu,” Adams says. Hook it up at the sushi bar, at the bar just inside the restaurant, or on the patio (when the weather cooperates). The reverse happy hours feature some of the city’s best DJs and occasional local-celebrity sightings.
8680 Northwest Prairie View Road,
4-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close daily
Yeah, the name is a little goofy, but there’s nothing silly about the specials at this bar and grill, which was the first business to open in Zona Rosa back in 2004. More spacious and inviting than its Plaza counterpart, this Tomfooleries offsets its bar-swaggy, poster-intensive décor with low drink prices. The service-industry-heavy crowd partakes of $2 domestic draws and wells and $3.75 Jose Cuervo margaritas on the rocks, as well as $3 appetizers that include buffalo chicken sandwiches, cheeseburgers and chicken tenders during both the midday and reverse happy hours. A good stop for Northland night owls, Tomfooleries serves food until 2 a.m.
Gator’s VIII Bar & Grill
6712 Northwest Tower Drive, Platte Woods,
4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Just off Interstate 29, in a nondescript strip mall in Platte Woods, you’ll find the typical bar accoutrements: pool table, shuffleboard, karaoke machine. A cigarette machine also sits next to the front door, with contents that can be consumed on-site. That’s right, Gator’s VIII is among the last smoking bars left in the metro. And at happy hour, the regulars happily puff away while drinking $2.25 domestic bottles, domestic pints and wells. The place is dark and friendly. And unless you live in Platte Woods, you probably won’t see anyone you know, making this an ideal destination for closet smokers, those who need to decompress after landing at KCI, and those “I only smoke when I drink” types.
4110 Pennsylvania, 816-753-4455
3-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2-8 p.m. Friday, 2-7 p.m. Saturday
There isn’t food or cushy seats at this Westport institution. You can’t start a tab; only cash is accepted. And you won’t soon forget the smell. But these are the sacrifices one makes to get what might be the cheapest happy-hour beer in the city, and all things considered, that’s pretty fair. We’re talking $1.25 Bud Light, Miller Lite and PBR drafts and $2.50 wells. You also just might have most of the bar to yourself if you show up early in the afternoon. Progress is inching forward — the fellas at Buzzard Beach have resurfaced the patio and scrubbed those bathrooms — but Buzzard Beach is really about the savings. As one bartender puts it, “Two Jameson here will cost you $8. If you get them at the Power & Light: $14.50.”
B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ
1205 East 85th Street, 816-822-7427
4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Walking into this iconic barbecue joint just east of Troost feels a little like a trip back in time to a 1930s Southern roadhouse. The happy-hour prices convey that feeling, too. If you’re on a bar stool (and not at one of the long, family-style tables), B.B.’s rings up your domestic bottles and your schnapps shots at $1.50. Yes, schnapps. Hot Damn, peppermint, butterscotch, peach — whatever you say goes well with $4.95 smoked chicken wings, rib tips, fries or barbecued meatloaf. Getting to B.B.’s early for these specials also gets you a seat for the evening’s entertainment, a major leg up when Trampled Under Foot or the Samantha Fish Blues Band is in the house, and the crowd eventually becomes standing-room-only.
1310 Carondelet, 816-942-8870
4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
In the 1890s, W.E. Emery, Joseph Taylor Bird Sr. and William Thayer took over a downtown dry-goods company (that had once outfitted settlers and pioneers), creating a larger and more upscale department store that took up an entire block on 11th Street between Grand and Walnut that. It was torn down in 1971. Eight years later, EBT Restaurant opened off Interstate 435 and State Line Road (where it shares a building with UMB), using the original column capitals and elevator cages to mimic the store’s Gilded Age structure. It’s rather fancy, and most of the dinner entrées run $25–$35. You can get a good feel for the restaurant during happy hour instead, when EBT offers 10 appetizers for $5 each, as well as $5 martinis and glasses of wine; $4 wells; $3 drafts, imports and craft bottles; and $2 domestics and Woodchuck bottles. What other bank building lets you eat and drink without making a sizable deposit?
2829 Southwest Boulevard, 816-931-4849
3–6 p.m. daily
It’s been 25 years since childhood friends Ron Abarca and Dave Quirarte opened the flagship location of their local Mexican-food mini empire. Since then, three floods have struck the Southwest Boulevard institution, and each time they’ve rallied, coming back to serve tacos and margaritas to hordes of folks. Beat the meal crowds at happy hour, when the headline specials are $1.75 drafts, $2.75 domestic and import bottles, and $3.75 frozen or on-the-rocks margaritas, which come in lime, strawberry, banana, raspberry, mango, pomegranate, peach, prickly pear or passion fruit. Soak up the bebidas with $4.50 nachos; $4 guacamole or spicy cheese dip; and $1 ground-beef or chicken mini tacos. The service is fast and friendly, and the bartenders don’t roll their eyes at your thirst for frozen drinks.
12 West 63rd Street, 816-361-8841
3-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Saturday,
3-9 p.m. Friday
No joke: Everybody loves Hooper’s. The popular Brookside hangout is old enough now that kids who were there with their parents in the ’90s are already coming home from college and moving back in with them. They can blame the economy all they want, but folks of all ages know they can always get a fist bump and a cheap beer at Charlie Hooper’s, especially during happy hour, which has $3.50 Boulevard drafts, $3.25 wells, $3 house wine and $2 domestic drafts. Want food? Try $3.99 fried mushrooms, pita pizzas, hummus or sliders. Hooper’s is family-friendly. A good game is almost always on, and you can play Big Buck Hunter. Chances are, you’ll run into someone you know from the ‘hood. See ya at Hooper’s, brah.
1727 McGee, 816-421-1634
4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
A pleasant surprise is always waiting to be discovered at the Brick. The occasional fried-green-tomato BLT on the lunch-specials menu, a kung fu classic flickering from the TVs — these are the little things that people cherish about this Crossroads mainstay. So it’s almost easy to forget that, at any given moment, it’s one of the cheapest places to drink downtown, especially at quitting time. “Honestly, our happy-hour prices today are actually cheaper than when we opened in 1999,” proprietor Sheri Parr says. That means $1 cans, $2 wells, $3 imports and Boulevard drafts, and $5 specialty cocktails (such as the Ginger Rogers: ginger vodka, rose water, blood-orange liqueur and soda water). Parr and her staff also serve up a seasonal $4 “Drink of the Week,” which might be a lavender lemonade or a kiwi-cilantro-lime rickey. It’s speakeasy-style without the douche bags or the huge price tags.
McCormick and Schmick’s
448 West 47th Street, 816-531-6800
4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
A true player will tell you that McCormick and Schmick’s is the place for the power happy hour. The crowd is well-dressed, well-connected and, by the end of the two hours, generally well-lit. The discount on drinks is paltry ($4.95 Boulevard Pale Ale, $6.95 Three Olives lemon drop martini), but that just means you can drink like someone with an expense account. Actually, the secret to the Plaza location’s happy hour is its ultra-inexpensive food: $1.95 fish tacos or spinach dip; $2.95 half-pound cheeseburgers; $3.95 Buffalo wings or fried-chicken sliders; and $4.95 ceviche, calamari or steamed mussels. These are the things that make up for $3.95 Coors Light drafts. This isn’t where you go to complain about prices, anyway. It’s about the special occasions and sealing the deal.
20 East Fifth Street, 816-423-8036
4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 4 p.m.-close
Sunday and Monday
Walking into the Zen-like confines of Bo Lings is instantly calming. The cool stone and polished concrete inside the local chain’s City Market location is so soothing, you almost forget the hustle and bustle outside. The happy-hour deals simply add to the good fortune. Skip the oolong tea and go for $2.50 domestic or $2.75 import bottles, $2.50 23-ounce Bud Light or $3.50 23-ounce Boulevard Wheat drafts, $3 wells and $5 Absolut martinis. Glasses of wine are $2 off. To soak up the liquor: generous servings of crispy eggplant, edamame, seaweed salad or crab rangoon for $4.50. Buddha up to the bar, or sit in the dining room or on the patio.
Fitz’s Blarney Stone
3801 Broadway, 816-753-4949
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Legend has it that one can attain the gift of gab by kissing Ireland’s Blarney stone. At the bar of the same name, verbal eloquence isn’t guaranteed, but a strong case of logorrhea before noon is likely. The luck of the Irish comes to Broadway for late-morning drinkers, when the Blarney Stone opens and the specials begin. Get $2 PBR drafts, $2.50 domestic bottles, $2.75 Bud and Bud Light drafts, $3 wells, $3.50 imports and $4 calls, along with lottery tickets, keno cards and conversation with the locals (some of whom have been coming to this corner bar for 25 years, according to one of the daytime bartenders). It’s no-frills but friendly and relaxing. Bring your own breakfast or lunch, see who’s not the father on Maury and drink beer — just like at home. It’s the pot o’ gold at the end of a midtown rainbow.
Lucky Strike Lanes
1370 Grand, 816-471-2316
3-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Power & Light District drinking establishments sometimes cancel happy hours when large-scale events hit the area. But Lucky Strike isn’t one of those places, making this cool, dark bowling alley and lounge a fine place to decompress before a concert or after work, with a $3 domestic draft or Lucky Arnold (made with Jeremiah Weed and lemonade). You don’t have to bowl to get the half-price treatment on cocktails and martinis, $3.75 mac-and-cheese bites and $5 pizzas. Instead, you can take it easy on one of the plush sofas that sit away from the balls and pins. Suitably reclined, you can order a Garter Belt (Patrón XO Café, dark crème de cacao and cream) or a Cucumber Smuggler (Hendricks, Cointreau, muddled basil and cucumber). Add $3.25 fried zucchini, and you can temporarily blot the Sprint Center from your brain.
616 Ward Parkway, 816-931-7811
2-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday
Google the name of this Plaza bistro and bar, and the word beatnik comes up. To quote Beat-generation writer Joyce Johnson: “Suburban couples could have beatnik parties on Saturday nights and drink too much and fondle each other’s wives.” Things don’t get quite that turned around at Re:Verse, but it’s not hard to be saucy while the sun is still out, with $5 glasses of red and white wines, flirtinis, mojitos, chocotinis and the place’s signature rose-water martini. Small plates such as flash-fried calamari, Yucatan pulled-pork sliders, and pita pizzas also are $5. Domestic bottles are $2.50, and Boulevard drafts are $3.50. The late-night happy-hour particulars vary slightly, but what does that matter to you, Daddy-O?
Westport Flea Market
817 Westport Road, 816-931-1986
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Sensory overload rules this bar, burger joint and swap meet that not long ago was almost razed to make way for a Hooters. TVs are everywhere, pitchers hang from the ceiling, neon and beer signs cover every inch of wall and window space, and sounds emanate constantly from the game room’s foosball and pool tables. The dining tables are wedged close, and the barking of food orders over a loudspeaker interrupts the already loud music. Still, happy-hour drinking at the Flea can be a simple affair. It’s as easy as making a food purchase from the cashier and choosing any of the 43 beers on tap for 99 cents. Purchases must be made in cash, but an ATM is available. It’s all-ages, in case you’re on kid duty, but keep a close eye, lest your child end up under a table of antiques or outside on the smoking patio, hanging with the regulars.
703 Southwest Boulevard, 816-472-8272
2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 2-4 p.m. Saturday, 4-6 p.m. Sunday
La Bodega isn’t the only place in the Crossroads to find small plates, but it might be the most romantic. A thrumming, sunny Spanish happy hour gives way every afternoon to dim lighting and a not-unpleasant din that keeps anyone but your hot tablemate from hearing your overtures. Move in closer with five different red and white wines for $5 a glass and half-price sangrias, wells, drafts and Boulevard bottles. Turn up the heat with half-price tapas; try the calamares a la plancha (sautéed squid in olive oil, garlic and lemon sauce) or the pincho de solomillo (skewered pork and apple with red onion and currant relish). Vegetarians also have options. Leave with enough dinero to pick up a bottle at nearby Royal Liquors and call it a noche.
435 Westport Road, 816-389-4180
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
A crappy day can make an about-face come happy hour at this bar, which is owned by the same folks who run McCoy’s and the Foundry. A friendly bartender is always willing to pour out a $4 cosmo or a $2 shot of house whiskey. Often, another regular is there, bellied up to the bar feeling the same way and drinking a $2 gin and tonic. The conversation goes from work to traffic to the last movie you both saw at the Tivoli. Passers-by stare in the huge windows and wish they could be inside drinking a $4 glass of Chardonnay followed by a $2 Bud Light draft instead of meeting their study buddy at Broadway Café. The sun and the indoor lights go down after a couple more $2 Michelob Ultra bottles. Time to go home, pass out happy and do it again tomorrow. It’s another evening in Westport.