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


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    Sadly, food has gone WAY DOWNHILL. Oysters are ONLY Wednesdays; burger is smaller, lower quality meat (frozen patties?). Bummer – I was a big fan and went pretty frequently for happy hour. sigh…

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