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8 Happy Hour Food Ideas to Make Your Guests’ Mouths Water

Even a small gathering of friends deserves the grand event treatment. But if you’re not a professional event planner, it can be difficult to know where to start. The good news is—you’re in the right place! Peerspace is the only platform that offers an affordable way to party in style. With photo-ready venue options made for every kind of get together, booking a place to hold your next party is as easy as booking an Airbnb. Just type in the kind of event you’re hosting, select your city, check off the amenities you need, and choose from dozens of eclectic and exciting venues available to rent by the hour. 

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Your next after-work happy hour get-together doesn’t have to mean rushing to the bar before 6 p.m. You can host a fantastic (not to mention endless) happy hour from home or at a hip venue of your choice. Here are some delectable happy hour food ideas that your guests will devour:

1. Mac and cheese bites

happy hour food ideas: mac and cheese bites
Source: Unsplash / Léo Roza

Happy hour calls for decadent, fried, and cheesy foods like onion rings and mozzarella sticks. Fried mac and cheese bites are a delicious take on a classic childhood comfort food and an alternative to the traditional happy hour fare. Cheesy, fried, and loaded with carbs, they are the quintessential happy hour appetizer. Complete the dish with marinara, ranch, or spicy dipping sauce, and cocktail size hot dogs. Use toothpicks for easy eating.

2. Naan bread pizzas

A twist on the traditional happy hour flatbread, these mini pizzas made on naan bread are the perfect fusion food for a hungry crowd. Let your guests make their own pies by laying out toppings like red and white sauces, shredded cheese, vegan cheese alternatives, (Daiya mozzarella is excellent!), bacon, ham, sausage, chicken, spinach, pepperoni, basil, onion, tomatoes, olives, peppers, pineapple (controversial, yes, but don’t yuck anyone’s yum!), garlic, tempeh, scallions, and avocado. 

This is a practical happy hour food idea because it is filling and doesn’t require a ton of prep work for the host. You can’t go wrong with pizza at a party!

3. Soft pretzels 

Soft pretzels with beer cheese is a happy hour staple, but you don’t have to be quite so basic. Get creative and spice it up! Offer alternative dipping sauces and specialty gourmet pretzel flavors like everything seasoning, garlic, or cheese or jalapeno stuffed pretzels. This traditional German fare can be infused with flavors from various cultures that are sure to please every palate. You can purchase soft pretzels from the freezer aisle in traditional twist shapes or bite-sized pieces that make for easy dipping. Or, splurge and grab some fresh pretzels from your local mall to save time.


4. Tacos

happy hour food ideas: tacos
Source: Unsplash / Krisztian Tabori

Tacos are a go-to for any party because let’s be honest, everyone loves ’em! For your happy hour get together, you can make them bite-sized by using tiny street taco-sized tortillas and offering various fillings such as lettuce, black beans, ground beef, pico de gallo, avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, olives, hot sauces, sour cream, peppers, onions, corn, guacamole, and cilantro.

Or, simplify the party planning process by hiring a local taqueria that can set up a taco bar at your party location. If you book a venue with Peerspace, your host might have recommendations, but you can also find great caterers on Gigsalad. Tacos make great happy hour food ideas because they pair well with other typical happy hour snacks and drinks, like chips and dip and margaritas.

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5. Chips and dips

Artichoke and spinach dip is a classic happy hour menu option, but you can go the extra mile for your party. Opt for different dip flavors and offer a variety of dippers such as sourdough crackers, tortilla chips, Triscuits, bagel chips, pita bread, or pretzels.

Here is an extensive list of creative, delectable dip recipes your happy hour party guests will love. You can also complete the evening meal with dessert nachos! Use waffle cone pieces, Teddy Grahams, or animal crackers as chips, and dessert hummus or cookie dough dip for the topping. Think of it as an updated version of Dunkaroos!

6. Salads

Set up your own mini salad bar with options ranging from sweet and fruity to savory and packed with protein. Start with romaine, arugula, cabbage, and spinach as bases, offer toppings like dried fruits, nuts, eggs, chicken, chickpeas, cheeses, grains like quinoa or farro, and fresh vegetables, and top it off with a variety of dressings. This is an excellent happy hour food idea if you have vegan or vegetarian guests or guests with gluten allergies.

7. Avocado toast 

happy hour food ideas: avocado toast
Source: Unsplash / Anna Pelzer

Avocado toast isn’t just an Internet meme—it’s a seriously good snack or appetizer that can be made for any occasion.

You can adapt the brunch craze for happy hour by serving fancy tiny toasts with toppings like poke (raw fish), tomatoes, fried eggs, croutons, bacon, everything seasoning, onions, olives, smoked salmon, cheeses, or other veggies. Try sourdough, French, ciabatta, or batard for the bread. This is another great option for guests with a variety of dietary preferences because you can easily purchase gluten-free bread and choose all-vegan toppings.

Here are some creative happy hour food ideas to upgrade the traditional avocado toast.

8. Charcuterie board

This elegant, gourmet display of crackers, meats, cheeses, fruits, and spreads has been the talk of every party in recent years. Charcuterie boards can be customized for different tastes, so they are a perfect happy hour food idea. Think of it as a glorified veggie tray (but usually minus the veggies).

Here is some inspiration for creating the perfect savory spread. You can fit every food group on the board, so you’ll have all of your nutritional bases covered (besides dessert, of course—can’t forget that)!

So, next time you and your friends or coworkers want to get together for a Friday night out, consider taking happy hour home (or to a fabulous Peerspace venue).  Your guests will surely be impressed with these irresistible, restaurant-quality happy hour food ideas.

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