Organizing the best happy hour for visiting colleagues is a pleasure. I had so much fun talking to new people and going to different venues in the city. So, what’s fun for happy hour in San Francisco? The city offers many happy hour choices: trendy restaurants, popular bars with live DJ’s, and other activities that you wouldn’t find otherwise else in the bay area. Whatever you decide to do, just remember your want to leave your visiting colleague a good image. It’s better to make them think, “Oh, she is such an amazing person,” than “Ah… she is a little something, something too much.” What you need to do is to find the balance between fun and business.
7:00 – 9:00 pm: Happy Hour Dinner with City Scenery
Happy hour in SF for visiting colleagues should starts with a nice dinner after a long and busy day of work. San Francisco has so many good restaurants. You wouldn’t find so many eating options in other cities, even the big ones. Since I was local, people trusted and expected me to make the decision on where to go. Having me as their SF happy hour guide saved my colleagues the trouble of looking through reviews after reviews on Yelp. In fact, I love the responsibility of choosing a restaurant for people. I have been eying on a few trendy happy hour places in SF, not suitable for dates, but great for a big party. One time I chose Benihana, a Japanese grill restaurant located in Japan town. It’s a great place for a big group happy hour in SF because each table has a big grill
table and a chef grilling fresh food for the party! Our chef gave us a fancy knife-work show at first, and then he proceeded to cook our food skillfully. Another time, I took people to Palomino, a beautifully designed place with a large open bar and unbeatable view overlooking the Bay Bridge. It’s a great happy hour place for locals, always busy even on weekdays.
Speaking of city scenery, the happy hour restaurant you choose in San Francisco needs to have great view of the city or at least a recognizable landmark. If you ask your visiting colleagues what they want to do for happy hour, they will tell you they want to see the city. They are tourists at the end of the day. All that bar and restaurant happy hour scene in San Francisco can’t satisfy their desire and curiosity to experience the city. They can get that scene anywhere else. Palomino is located right across a pleasant walk pathway along the water. So after dinner, our party had a nice walk along the bay towards the Ferry Building. Some people took the great opportunity to take pictures. In another happy hour in SF, we went to Fog Harbor Fish House in Fisherman’s Warf. It has view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. Since the Ghirardelli Square is within walking distance to the Fisherman’s Warf, after dinner my colleagues walked to the famous landmark.
As you can tell, restaurant happy hour for your colleagues is more about the experience, less about the food itself. I have to admit the food at the trendy or touristy restaurants we went to were just alright. That’s the trade off I’d say. My colleagues wanted the city experience, so i gave them the experience. The happy hour probably wouldn’t be very satisfying if I had taken them to a less glamorous restaurant with great good in the Mission. Another consideration about the happy hour restaurant is the cost. You don’t want to go too cheap or too expensive with your visiting colleagues. I’d say $20-$30 per person including drinks is a good range. You don’t want to get your colleagues in trouble with their higher boss for unreasonably expensive business dinner. So, check out the restaurant’s website for its menu and price. One last thing, remember: you need to make the reservation.
9:00 – 10:30 pm: Drinks with Locals
After the happy hour dinner or a pleasant walk following the dinner, it’s time for the real deal. Yes, I mean what happy hour is supposed to be about-Drinks. Going to a popular bar is way to go. It was on a Tuesday night, and I took my NYC colleagues to Ambassador because it had Tuesday Special – $2 per drink all night. The place was packed when we got in. Squeezing our way to the bar counter, we all got our drinks. As the night went on, the bar got more and more packed. So many different types of locals: the yuppie, the Asian girls, the hippie, and the hipster, my NYC colleagues got a sense of what San Francisco locals are about.
Another time, we went to Bar None in the Marina to play beer pong, a group drinking game. The bar is large but quite empty on a weekday night, except the beer pong tables. The game is simple. Two teams take turn to throw a ping pong ball into the beer cup of the other team. If the ball scores, someone from the other team has to drink the beer in the cup. (Kind of dirty I think, gross… I never drank that beer. I always had some excuse or someone drink for me J.) The Marina area is famous for its young yuppie population.The table next to us was always all locals, and they fit the typical description of Marina people. Coming to Bar None gave my colleagues a taste of what the Marina is like.
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June 10, 2011