McCormick & Schmick’s Has NYC’s Best Food Happy Hour Ever

If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every Friday afternoon our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.

I thought finding bargain happy hours around Rockefeller would be impossible. Most of the best deals I’ve reviewed are usually on the boundaries of midtown, away from the tourists, corporate offices, and ritzy steakhouses, not smack dab in the heart of the Radio City Spectacular and near the bright lights of Broadway! ML favorites tend to be dive bars with free hotdogs or cheap wings. However, I’ve found $1 oysters at an expensive lobster restaurant and an incredible burger plus cocktail special at a chic bar and grill. Now McCormick & Schmick has reared its delicious head to, again, prove that dives are not our only solace here on ML.

The name McCormick & Schmick sounds like a legal firm not like a seafood restaurant, and you’d also guess by the name that maybe this is a corporate hangout with more suits then a Jacoby and Myers. That may be true, but not only do they have one of the biggest and best bar menus, their specials aren’t for a limited time or anything new. They’ve had this happy hour going on for YEARS! How did they pass under the radar for so long? How could I have not noticed? Excuse me as I hang my head in shame.

From Monday through Friday, 3:30—6:30pm and 9:30pm till close, McCormick & Schmick offers a bar food special with a minimum beverage purchase, per person, of $3.50. For you teetotalers this can be a soda, tea, coffee or I shudder to think –a shirley temple.

The alcoholic beverages at M&S can be super expensive (aka “that’s how they getcha!”), but every day there is a different $5 drink special. Monday is apple martinis, Tuesday is well drinks, Wednesday is Blue Moon, Thursday (the day I visited) is a glass of house red or white wine, and Friday is $5 cosmos. But the drinks are only background noise to the real headliner… a list of $1.95 – $4.95 full entrees [PDF].

The bar area has the nice distinction of being almost like its own room due to some columns that act as partitions. The rest of the two level dinning is stylish, quiet and accented by art deco stained glass lighting.

Despite the refined atmosphere the bartenders are gregarious and inviting. The bar is well stocked with an array of bourbons, tequila, ryes, vodkas and rums as well as tap beers. It was no holds barred and I planned to try all I could.

The dollar oysters served with a delicious garlic/malt vinegar and horseradish/cocktail sauce side, met their end first.

The mussels in a red curry sauce with plenty of garlic and a spicy kick didn’t stand a chance either (and were only $3.95!!!)

At $2 a piece it’s tough to complain, but there are plenty of fish taco aficionados out there so I won’t even try to make this seem noteworthy. The fish taco was a small white tortilla with some chunks of fish, melted up with cheddar cheese and a side of plain cabbage and tomatoes. I used the broth from the mussels in order to finish it off (nothing like a little cross-pollination.)

I saved the best for last: the $2.95 ½ pound cheeseburger with fries. If there is a heaven then this may be where broke Midtown Lunchers go to rest. Hand-cut crispy, golden fries, a juicy mound of ground beef cooked to order with a salty crust, topped with cheddar and a bun that managed to keep it together.

My bartender mentioned that if you were to order the burger in the dinning area, they would charge approximately $13. Even more jaw dropping is the fact that they just raised the burger price by $1, it used to be on the $1.95 section of the menu! I dare anyone to find a corner bodega that can offer a cheeseburger deluxe at this price and quality.

But wait! There’s more! Like shrimp, clams, wings, tuna and the always-irresistible bacon mac and cheese. It is practically mind blowing. Once again, pardon me while I kick myself for missing out on this all these years.

THE + (what someone who likes this place will say)

  • Mouth watering selection of complete entrees all for under $5! Yes, $5!
  • Elegant bar with plenty of seating and engaging bartenders
  • Daily drinks specials and the bar menu is available early (3:30pm) and again late at night (9:30pm)

THE – (what someone who dislikes this place will say)

  • Drinks are super expensive (aka that’s how they get you!) so if you don’t like their $5 drink special that day, you’re S.O.L.
  • There are only a couple of vegetarian friendly items on the menu

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, 1285 Avenue of the Americas (at 52nd St), 212.459.1222


  • I’ve been telling people this is the best food HH special for years. The burger itself is well worth the trip. Best part is that the HH kicks back in again at 930 till closing! Woot! Hello dinner after the MOMA.

  • 2.95 for burger and fries? WTF! Sounds like a DEFINITE happy hour destination.

  • that’s pretty amazing. way to blow the “secret”

  • Can we add this to april HH list(preferably on well drink day)?

    • I’d go for a Blue Moon Wednesday too. Definitely not Glass of Wine Thursday, tho.

    • I would be with you on this too, Goats. The only problem is that there’s a gap of 6:30-9:30pm. We’d need to jump on it early like 5pm-6:30pm, or start at 9:30pm but obviously need another venue. I would totally get here by 5:30pm and go to the another designated HH location after 6:30pm. Maybe an ML HH PRE-GAME here then for April?

  • Is it too late for April ML HH at M&S? (Although many people are slow/enslaved and wouldn’t get there until after 6:30…)

  • I’ve never been to the NY one, but used to frequent the original in Portland. They have a similar HH at all locations, though the quality of the beer selection can vary wildly. They usually fresh squueze juice for mixed drinks, which is a big plus if you like greyhounds.

  • well, if not for my vices and bugged out desires, my year would be good, just like Goodyear tires.

    • I prefer Michelin tires on my imported, asian-made vehicles. But that’s just me, because I am old and out-of-the-loop, so to speak (I guess that’s why I own THREE vehicles — LOL).

      Please excuse me while I go out and kick my vehicle’s tires.

      YEAH, I’m back at the computer now, and I feel MUCH better, Sarah.

      Carrion, please.

      Oh, and have a GREAT weekend.

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    I walked by earlier today and the chalkboard outside indicates they are having anniversary “$6 lunch combos” for the entire month of April from 11:30 – 4:00. Not sure what is involved in that.

  • lol, this place is gonna be even more packed then it already is during HH. went a few fridays ago, no room at all by the bar.

  • I’m not ashamed to admit it but I go to M&S in every state I travel to because the happy hour is so damn cheap. I would suggest joining their loyalty program and get all of those points for your happy hour bill. Oh, and Tuesdays is always the best day to go for the well drinks special… damn I love this place.

  • let’s have a midtownlunch happy hour and finish all their oysters.

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    Sorry to be the wet blanket but I have to remind people of the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true..”

    Firstly, you are unlikely to find any place to sit if you get there before 6:30. That means you either eat your food standing or in between patrons at the bar, or you stand and stare at the seated midwestern tourists taking their sweet time.

    Second, the service is intentionally slow. They weren’t born yesterday. Mc&S isn’t in the business of selling $2.95 cheeseburgers, they’re looking to make big margins on the drinks. The blogger failed to mention normally priced draught beer is about $8. On average it takes about 30 minutes from the time you’re seated to the time you’re served, and that’s easily 2 drinks. $16 for 2 beers is no bargain.

    Third, the food sucks. Yeah I said it. The ground beef they use for the $2.95 burger is cheap 80% lean chuck at best. It’s NOT the same burger meat you pay $13 for in the restaurant. The tacos taste like rubber and the spinach dip like mayonnaise. If anything is good it’s the dollar oysters and the mussels. But Mc&S is by no means the only place in town selling dollar oysters.

    Mc&S is smart because they capitalize on their reputation as a solid steak house to peddle their “bargain” bar specials. But in the end you really do get what you pay for. And by the way that’ll be $16 for two domestic draughts please!

    • You lost me when you talked about how M&S has a reputation as a steakhouse. They’re a seafood place, dude. Not a good one, but still.

  • I have to differ on all points except the fact that it gets crowded, but that’s common everywhere, come on, we’re in the tourist center of Manhattan! A smart eater/drinker will time their day and hour to visit appropriately. BTW, as always, they had no idea I was a reviewer and I had exceptional service/food experience.

  • Flipster–huh? Who is going to get $8 beers instead of the $5 drink specials? And I kinda doubt it will be packed around 3:30 or 4pm. I also kinda doubt the food is as bad as you say. I plan to check it out for myself soon.

    Tell me, what nearby competitor do you work for?

    • Yeah, and I suspect that ‘Flipster’ hit himself in the head with his ‘flipper’ shortly before he declared ” … the food sucks. Yeah I said it…”

      Of course, since he SAID it, how in the hell can anyone else DISPUTE it, if you get my drift?

      And life in New Yawk City goes on — and on — and on.

      Carrion please.

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    Wins the award for the absolutely worst sports metaphors I’ve seen on a menu in ages, it’s painful.

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    Been going for years, admittedly not much at the NYC locations, but it’s a great thing to hit up when you travel for work as these tend to be in larger cities. BS on the food not being good…it’s very good, upgraded to excellent when taking into account price. The mussels are great, their wings are really meaty and flavorful, and of course the burger. What’s cool is that the changing menu has some interesting appetizers on it, and it’s not just confined to pub food. Show up at 430, eat your face off, drink til 9, and then eat your face off again.

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    If my criticism came across as harsh, it’s because I had high hopes for my happy hour meal at Mc&S. I also held it to it’s main dining room standards in terms of taste/quality. Personally I’d rather pay $20 for 2 beers and a GOOD burger than $19 for 2 beers and a mediocre one.

    Also, unless you’re a school teacher or bagel-maker, who in midtown gets off work at 3:30-4:00pm??

  • hit this up yesterday and was kinda disappointed. online menu must be leftover from march madness–sports theme not in evidence on menus at the restaurant.

    apple martini was fine for a sugary sweet girly drink. tanquery & tonic $9.75, 5 oz. glass of red wine $9.

    cheeseburger dreadfully overcooked; to be fair, i didn’t specify doneness; fries must have been sitting in a bin under a lamp or something–they were warm and dry. oysters looked good but were very bland. spinach & artichoke dip was solid (not literally); size of about a cup of soup. new item listed as seafood cake was pretty much tuna: not recommended. better were the tuna skewers, although those were still overcooked for my liking. the skewers were still charged per menu link above ($1.95) despite being listed at $3.95.

    was kind of funny that someone brought out 3 burger plates when we ordered two. we were a bit slow to tuck in, and our server came over to let us know that the 2 we kept were the rest of another table’s order, so they were taken away to be re-served.

    it was a lot of food for cheap, and i would be willing to give it another shot, but i would be a little more careful with my ordering.

    @flipster39 re: getting off work: that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

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    also note, the happy hour isn’t in effect on holidays. I went there on memorial day a couple of years ago, the place was completely empty, and there was no happy hour menu in effect. i drank my $8 beer and took off.

    a friend and I used to go to mickey schmick’s in portland oregon all the time, where they had the same happy hour deal, but with even more stuff. the calamari was fantastic, and the burgers came with tillamook cheddar. it was the best deal in town, even with the (what seemed at the time completely ridiculous) $6 beers.

  • I went here tonight with a friend. The burger was fantastic for $3.95 (NOTE: Yes, it seems that they raised the price a buck, but it was still damn good). Best $4 burger I’ve ever had, and for $4 I will be back again. The burger was a perfect medium-rare, big, and juicy, and did I mention $4?

    This could easily become a bad habit.

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