Happy Hour Monday–Friday 4:30 – 6:30
Drinks: $4 well drinks and wine by the glass, $1 off other wines by the glass and bottled and draft beers
Food: ½ off bar appetizers – Sweet Potato fries $3.50, Chicken Wings $4.25, BBQ Rib Tips $5, Shrimp Cocktail $4.50, Monterey Bay Calamari $6, Cajun Popcorn Shrimp $5.50, Artichoke Hearts $4.75, “Black and Blue” Ahi $7.50, Jumbo Prawn Cocktail $6.25, Jalapeno Poppers $3.50, Basket of Onion Rings $3.30, Garlic Cheese Toast $3.00, House Made BBQ Potato Chips $1.75, Pulled Pork Sliders 2/3.50 3/5.00, Appetizer sampler: $9.50
The Hindquarter Bar and Grill is located on Soquel Avenue right across from Riverside Lighting. The Hindquarter is a local landmark has been at this location since 1964. The current owners Laurie, Mark and Sam took it over about three years ago, but all three had worked at the Hindquarter as employees under the previous owner.
I have eaten dinner here before, but had never sampled their happy hour, so I was looking forward to checking out this local institution. Happy hour is Monday- Friday from 4:30-6:30. I always appreciate that extra half hour, since most happy hours end at 6:00 – but appreciate a Saturday or Sunday even more!
I arrived before Josephine and there were several seats at the bar (always a plus for me). The bar is wood paneled and cozy with photos on the wall. I sat down next to Jennifer who is a regular at the Hindquarter. This bar has a loyal following. We discussed one of the photos on the wall, which was an optical illusion: a sandstone canyon shot or the curves of a woman or something else. You decide.
Jessica was our bartender. When I presented her with our card and explained we were reviewing their happy hour, she said that to get the true experience of the Hindquarter Happy Hour we should come back when the owner Mark was there. He always works happy hour and Jessica had never worked a happy hour before – she was the daytime bartender who was just covering while the owners were at a food conference. Unfortunately, it is too hard to schedule our happy hour reviews, so we would have to plow through with Jessica doing her best.
Their happy hour includes $4 wells and wines and ½ off of their bar menu appetizers. Josephine arrived and I ordered a rum and coke and she ordered a glass of wine. We got down to perusing the appetizer selections, which was quite impressive.
My well drink was tasty and you could tell there was some alcohol in the drink, the way I like it. Josephine ordered some buffalo wings (wings come in buffalo, thai sweet & spicy or sesame teriyaki). I ordered the appetizer sampler which came with artichoke hearts, popcorn shrimp, buffalo wings and calamari. Since Jo had ordered the buffalo wings, I asked for the thai sweet and spicy, instead. The appetizer plate is $9.50, but I figured that would give me a wide taste of their happy hour fare.
At this point we started talking with our neighbor at the bar, Devin, who is a regular at the Hindquarter and a fellow connoisseur of happy hours it turned out. He had just ordered an order of the Garlic Cheese Toast which he insisted we try for our review. Being raised too polite to refuse, we immediately dug in and I have to say the cheese toast was delicious.
Devin has been coming to the Hindquarter for years and knew both the previous owner and the current owners. He explained why he felt it was one of the best happy hours in town. He insisted that we try additional appetizers to fully appreciate their menu.
The first wave of appetizers arrived. Jo’s chicken wings were spicy and she seemed pleased with them, though she is a buffalo wing connoisseur. My appetite platter was huge and came with four sauces – one for each of the appetizers. I appreciated that being a saucy gal. All of the fried food was tasty – the artichoke heart, the popcorn shrimp and calamari and the sweet wings. It was a lot of fried food, which I love but I filled up quickly.
Around this time the Black and Blue Ahi tuna and the BBQ rib tips had arrived. These two were my favorite things that we tasted. I especially liked the Black and Blue ahi and appreciated a bit of a healthier choice on a happy hour menu.
We ordered another well drink from Jessica, who declined to have her picture taken for the blog. We had a lively conversation with Devin on happy hours. He insisted the JJs has some of the best happy hour food and this was already on our list of places to hit.
We ate and drank to our hearts content and I actually ended up taking leftovers to Bill! When does that happen during a happy hour?
In sum, the Hindquarter is a nice local spot with happy hour until 6:30 weekdays. There are no fancy drinks on happy hour, but the wells have a kick to them. The food is good with a wide variety of appetizer choices. I’d like to come back when Mark is behind the bar and check out the scene again. Fun, local happy hour!
Julie’s rating: 4 shots!
The Hindquarter Bar and Grill is a steak house that serves up meat. My kind of place and it has been around for some time now in Santa Cruz. It has changed hands many times and for the last year and a half or so is being run by people who use to be staff members. It’s nice to know the staff have a strong passion for the place and want to keep it going. It has been quite some time since I have been here so everything was new to me.
They have a nice patio out front and a good size dining area. Of course we are spending our time in the bar which has a fair amount of tables, a nice size bar with some interesting pictures on the walls. One is a picture of a cavern but when you look at it, well you can draw our own conclusion. Everything is wood inside the bar area, rustic looking and inviting.
So Jessica is behind the bar and we find out this is not her usual work time and we are missing out on one of the owners who is very lively and energetic behind the bar and keeps the place hoping. Jessica was doing a fine job though, getting us set up with our food and spirits. So happy hour is Monday – Friday 4:30-6:30 (like the 6:30 aspect I can party longer). They have $1 off beers and wines, $4 well drinks and house wine, and ½ off bar appetizers. They have a pretty good selection of items on the menu, but I was only interested in wings. I haven’t had any for quite some time and I was jonesin' for them in a big way. Julie decided to get the sampler platter that had fried artichoke hearts, calamari, popcorn shrimp and wings. Since I was going with the original Buffalo wings Julie decided on the Thai sweet and spicy ones. While Julie and I are chatting it up the bartender waits patiently for us to make a decision about drinks. I decide on a glass of the house red while Julie goes for her rum and diet coke.
We were having some lively conversations with some of the other customers, I believe they are regulars always a good sign for a bar and one in particular had quite a bit to say once he found out what we were doing. His name is Devin.
Devin has been around this town a long time and as he puts it, “I know all the great places to go in this town, I should be doing this blog”. Devin was indeed a character. He started right in asking questions, “have you been to this place, hand you been that place, they have really good food this place” and so on. From the sounds of it he has indeed been to all the places in town but he has his special few and the Hindquarters one of them. He comes up to us with the garlic cheese toast and offers us some. “You gotta try this, it’s the best” and he wasn’t kidding, that was some tasty garlic cheesy toast. You better like lots of garlic and cheese but it was well worth it.
So our food arrives and we dig in. The Buffalo wings are good, not great but good. The flavor is fine and they are very saucy which I’m not crazy about and a little fatty for wings but not bad. Julie’s fried platter had its ups and downs. The artichoke hearts and calamari was nothing to write home about, the popcorn shrimp was good, the shrimp was cooked just right.
Devin sees what we have ordered and he’s like “no you gotta try the Black and Blue Ahi Tuna and the BBQ Rib Tips. Well I was thinking of ordering one of those items anyways, but Devin jumps right in and orders them. Well that Ahi Tuna was the best. Nice large slices of tuna with a great blackened rub on it and seared just right with lovely pink flesh in the middle and melt in your mouth taste.
I dive into the rib tips and they have a wonderful sauce on them and the ribs are good, could be a little more tender but good flavor and a healthy portion for both of these items. That always puts a smile on my face.
Devin was a trip. He was having a rough day of it and needed some cheering up so I’m glad we were there to lift his spirits. Very friendly, knows a lot about the area and where to go in town for good food and drinks.
So the Hindquarter wasn’t bad. The drink specials are fine, the food is fine, order the right stuff and it’s great and the folks were friendly. It has a relaxed atmosphere to it and seems like a nice place for a group of friends hanging out.
Jo’s rating: 3.5 shots!