One of our dear friends used to host a weekly Sunday “family” dinner. Sunday seemed like a good choice because gathering with friends (your chosen family) before the beginning of a new work week is an excellent way to ward off the Sunday scaries. The deal was if we selected the recipe, he’d buy the ingredients and cook. Sounds like an irresistible trade right? Let’s just say…his heart was in the right place.

Every Sunday we’d agree on a recipe and time of arrival. Arriving promptly was not rewarded with a host and kitchen prepped to start cooking. Too many times we were greeted by a man in a recliner playing video games accompanied by an announcement that “Oops! Groceries haven’t been purchased and (random, very nice woman we’d probably never see again) will be joining us.”

Despite these hiccups, the most important thing is that we lived, laughed, loved and (eventually) ate together. However, I wonder if sometimes we should have just gone to happy hour. Same outcome, a lot less surprises. Try these four Sunday Santa Barbara happy hours for your Sunday night “family” dinners.

Crush Bar Happy Hour

Permanently Closed

At a time when many of our community members don’t have many safe spaces to occupy, Crush Bar & Tap offers an alternative (along with a great happy hour). This inclusive bar and tap’s mission statement is “to provide a safe space for queer and marginalized communities to enjoy local beverages, snacks and entertainment” and aims to create “a loving respectful space for all to enjoy.”

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to embody the word family. Start off with The Bender–a modern version of your mom’s white wine spritzer and once you’ve got a nice buzz, order from the family-friendly menu of shareables like local charcuterie, potato chips and homemade ranch dip, and mini cupcakes!

Rare Society
Historically, nothing epitomizes a Sunday night family dinner better than meat and potatoes. These days there are excellent fake meat options, but when you want the real thing, you can “sink your teeth into Rare Society.”

Among other tasty items, the happy hour menu consists of meaty classics such as steak ‘n’ frites (steak with a chimichurri sauce and french fries), meatballs, and a Philly cheesesteak. Wash it down with a $10 classic old fashioned or fruity wood-fired pineapple margarita. Plan on eating early and outside because this happy hour ends at 5:00 pm and is only available at the bar.

Coast & Olive Happy Hour
This charming restaurant inside of the Montecito Inn is located right on the lovely Coast Village Road in Montecito. Its snacky menu is perfect when you just want a shareable family-style dinner made with quality ingredients. The food is a cornucopia of flavor featuring a rotating menu of shrimp cocktail, truffle fries, French onion soup, ahi tuna tartare, and tempura cauliflower to name a few. Get a $4 beer or $10 cocktail and cheers to the end of another weekend.
Secret Bao Happy Hour
The Secret Bao happy hour food menu is essentially all Asian comfort food–fried chicken and pork belly baos (baos are fluffy dough pillows stuffed with flavorful filling), garlic noodles, lumpia, dumplings–certain to make you all warm and cozy. Happy hour is only served in the bar area which means you’ll be sitting family style. Perfect for a Sunday dinner.

Find Your New Favorite Happy Hour!

Ali's List is the ultimate guide to happy hours in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, Carpinteria, and Summerland.