Lumberyard bar - Laguna Beach

In case you hadn’t noticed, the football season has arrived.

Exhaustive coverage of college and pro draft, pre-season, regular and post-season “American” football will tote up to more than 2,100 televised hours in the 5 months ahead. (That would be non-stop 24-hour coverage for 87 days straight.)

What, may you ask are Laguna Beach restaurants doing to participate in the mayhem?

Well, for starters, where’s there a TV, there’s going to be a game. With 2,100 hours to go, I don’t think there’s much avoiding it, folks.

And, five restaurants/bars are participating by extending the hours of their existing happy hours, even through the weekends. I’ll get to their details here in a moment.

Of all the many restaurants in Laguna Beach, though, just four are tackling the season ahead with Vince Lombardi-like playbooks, drive and will to win. Let’s break down the play (alphabetically, of course) for these four Football Happy Hours.

Avila’s El Ranchito

NFL Ticket:

When Owner Michael Avila committed to the NFL Sunday ticket five years ago, his game changed significantly.

“Suddenly, I had people standing outside the doors ten minutes before we opened with their laptops and iPads, claiming first dibs on which games would be played,” he says with his usual happy grin.

“Everyone knows it’s first come, first serve for our eight TVs in here, so the Fantasy Football guys are on it.”

Michael is dialed into massive college ball TV packages, too.

TVs & Seating:

There are eight TVs, most of which are in the bar area, but clearly visible to just about every seat in the house. Kids can’t sit right at the bar, but bar and restaurant tables are open to families.

Football Specials Schedule:

Usual happy hour: M – F, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., with 50% off specific food items and drink pricing specials.

Football-specific hours: Monday and Thursday beginning at 4:00 p.m., and all day Saturday and Sunday until the last whistle blows.

Football Happy Hours’ Specials:

Michael Avila, Owner El Ranchito Laguna Beach

Each year, Michael changes the football specials, and when the football fanatics growl the following season about a certain special gone MIA, Michael adds it to the usual Happy Hour menu to placate the line of scrimmage.

This year, buddy Jeff came up with the Hangover Taco, a satisfying plate loaded with corn tortilla, beans, carne asada, and cheese with one egg over-easy and house made pico de gallo and Grandma Avila’s salsa negra topping the play.

Then, Michael invented The Six Streets, a heaping plate offering six street tacos that range in flavor from carne asada, chicken and carnitas. Order six of the same or mix it up, repeats welcome.

Football Drink Specials: At El Ranchito, there’s always a Beer of the Week special that coincides with our long football season. Order it by the glass or pitcher. Or, cozy up to a giant schooner Mug o’ Margarita, also at touchdown-frenzy pricing.

P.S. Although it’s not officially proclaimed as a go-to hub, El Ranchito’s Michael says that there “sure are a lot of CU Buff fans” on Saturday (yay! My alma mater!) “and Pittsburgh Steeler fans on Sunday.”

Big Fish Tavern

sliders - Big Fish Tavern

NFL Ticket: Yep, General Manager Lucian Stefanic is dialed in.

TVs & Seating: There are nine TVs scattered in the bar and restaurant.

Football Specials Schedule:

Usual happy hour: M – F, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., with 11 food items and drink specials.

Football-specific hours: Monday and Thursday, 7 p.m. to close

Football Happy Hours’ Specials:

poke - Big Fish Tavern

Enjoy $2 off all Raw Bar (chilled seafood) and appetizers from the main menu, including poke, sashimi, short rib sliders, wings and more. That’s 22 options in food alone.

Football Drink Specials: All regular menu drafts and craft beers (save for Dark Seas and Delirium) are $2 off as well, and you might want to ask about the Rotating Taps, too.


Hotel Laguna’s Ocean View Bar & Grill

NFL Ticket: Yes, General Manager Stefan Andersen scores a safety.

TVs and Seating: Four big screen TVs throughout the bar.

Football Specials Schedule: All day Sunday, from first kickoff to final whistle

Football Happy Hours’ Specials:

 wings - Hotel Laguna

Chef Rob Hines is one of those quiet blokes who creates one magical dish after another in that kitchen of his. For his Game Day Grub menu, Chef Rob features wings that can be basted and baked in any of 10 different sauces. So, choose your order size (6, 12 or 18 wings) and wander through his sauce aisle which includes Classic Buffalo, Sriracha Honey, Whiskey BBQ, Bourbon Molasses, 5-Alarm and more.

If wings don’t interest you, try the Hot Dog options, all-beef, extra large with four inventive options or a “build your own dog” feature. Or, dive into the Hotel Laguna fries with grilled onions, melted cheddar jack cheese, crispy bacon chunks and house dressing.

Football Drink Specials:

Beer Tower - Hotel Laguna

Drink specials run all day, too, with multiple options in draft and bottled beer, well drinks, wines and even a 100-ounce Beer Tower with craft beer for just $25. (Uber coupons available at the front desk!)

P.S. Not a football fan but a rabid wings fan? No worries. Chef and his staff will serve the Game Day menu to Sunday restaurant visitors as well. (You just have to read this to ask!)





NFL Network and traditional channel/cable channels

TVs and Seating: Three TVs (one of which is gigantic) throughout the bar.

Football Specials Schedule:

Usual happy hour: M – F, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., with 16 food items and drink specials.

Football-specific hours: Monday Night Football, from first kickoff to final whistle

Football Happy Hours’ Specials:

Ever the crowd pleasers, Owner Cary Redfearn and talented Chef Armondo Ortega believe comfort food is what it’s all about when it comes to 2,100 hours of football. So, for Monday Night Football (usually two games, back to back), the usual happy hour menu is in full swing all night long, and includes signature Lumberyard Planks, short rib and BBQ pulled pork sliders, calamari and more.

grilled cheese

Then, just for Monday Night Footballs’ duration in the bar, Chef Armondo breaks out his crazy-good grilled cheese sandwich variations with homemade tomato soup (perfect for dipping). Makes me want to cry real tears of happy joy just writing about the dish.

Football Drink Specials:

Given that the Lumberyard happy hour menu is in sway throughout the Monday Night Football evening, all of its drinks carry the same clout. Enjoy wine, specialty cocktails, and draft beers at great pricing.


Restaurants With Existing Happy Hours & TVs

While they might not be fashioning football-specific menus this season (yet), you’ll find existing happy hours and ready TVs at the following:

Coyote Grill, 3:00 – 6:30 p.m. every day

Gina’s Pizza, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. every day

Henessey’s Laguna Beach, M – F, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., with extended happy hour for

Monday Night Football, Saturday and Sunday all-day drink specials.

Mozambique, M – F, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Starfish, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. every day

Now, let’s all get out there and support our favorite (restaurant) teams! Game on!




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