Happy Hour: Double Trouble at the Willows

Alexis Katsilometes
Pork belly doughnuts are a compelling happy hour lure at the Willows.
Forgive us for saying this, but there is one difficult part of happy hour: deciding what to drink. We are known to sit in our bar stools, dazedly stare at the menu and mull over the merits of a perfect Manhattan, a salt-rimmed margarita, or a well-crafted draft beer. Thankfully, the Willows forces us to make a decision. The lively SOMA gastropub is divided into two distinct parts: one room is reserved for mixed drinks, and the other, for beer and shots. They divide, and boy do they conquer.

From 4 to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday (and all day Sunday), the Folsom Street spot offers $1 off all 15 draft beers and well cocktails, $6 margaritas and mai tais, and $5 Smirnoff-based libations. And to pair with the copious amounts of booze that are often consumed, the kitchen serves up the always-appropriate jalapeƱo poppers ($5.25), mac 'n cheese bites ($4.25), and pork belly doughnuts ($5.25); yes, you read that right. Pork. Belly. Doughnuts.

On our last visit, we opted for the "beer-and-a-shot side," choosing Goose Island's Matilda, a Belgian-style Pale Ale ... and as if there was ever any doubt, the pork belly doughnuts. Served with a maple bourbon glaze, the soft bites of bliss reminded us of cha siu bao (BBQ pork buns). Our only wish for the dough-wrapped pieces of tender pork? That they had more of the sweet, sticky glaze; we wanted them to swim in it.

So whether you're in the mood for a quick post-work beer or seeking to spend the entirety of a Sunday sipping and snacking (read: drinking and feasting, and maybe playing one of the many board games they keep stocked), the Willows is a welcomed watering hole. Just remember the pork belly doughnuts.

The Willows, 1582 Folsom, 529-2039.

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