By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Roka Akor Restaurant
7299 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Given its status amongst Valley gastronauts as the current king of Japanese dining, it comes as no surprise that Roka Akor's unique izakaya offerings are equally splendid. Suffused in the gentle glow of crimson lighting, patrons occupy plush couches or find seating around a rectangular bar where bartenders pour infused shch and such signature cocktails as the sake-tinis (available in flavors like blood orange and white pear), as well as bottled import and domestic beers ranging from Kirin to Coors Light. Izakaya eating is designed to be inexpensive, if not ample, as the object is to sample numerous dishes at once. Butterfish tataki with white asparagus is a favorite, as is the fried shell crab and mixed salad greens. Roka definitely rocks.
5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Izakaya menu features $2-$6 small bar snacks, $5-$6 signature cocktails, $2-$16 sakes, $5 house wines, and $3-$6 domestic and imported beers.
Technology has improved nearly every aspect of our life and now, at long last, it's been applied to mankind's greatest venture: the search for cheap drinks. Village Voice Media Holdings LLC, the parent company of this paper, and GoTime.com have partnered to bring you Happy Hours, the premier smart-phone application for finding drink specials wherever you are and whenever you're looking.
Your phone tells the app where you are, you specify any happy hour needs you might have, and voilá, you've got a detailed list of every happy hour around, including what's being offered and when the specials expire. The list is sorted by distance from your current location, and you can turn your phone sideways for a Google map of the nearest picks. Can't decide which one to try? Give the phone a good shake and the app will randomly select a happy hour for you.
Almost 20,000 happy hours in more than 30 cities are covered. The data comes from GoTime's extensive database, business owners and users, creating the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings possible. It's like having a native guide to the best spots in town, wherever you go. And in the 14 cities with Village Voice Media papers, it's not like having a native guide, it is having a native guide: recommendations from our editorial staff, the people who live and breathe the city's nightlife, are integrated into the app.
Native apps are available for iPhone, Droid, and BlackBerry users, but you can still get in on the fun even if you don't have a smart phone. Just point your phone's web browser to www.gotime.com and you can get the same info (albeit without the slick functionality offered by the apps). And no matter what platform you use, it's all free — so you can save your money for that last half-price mojito or two-for-one beer special of the night. -- Cory Casciato
La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Seventh & Mill Avenue, Tempe
Watch Mill Avenue go by from La Bocca's casual, classy L-shaped patio, with its low cushiony seating, lime-green umbrellas, and candlelight. The interior is spacious and dim — in a good way. And maybe because "relaxed pricing" begins when the restaurant opens every day, there is no frenzied Happy Hour vibe among the young, handsome clientele. Beer lovers will be impressed by the draft and bottle selection. A half-price fancy glass or three of Belgian Tripel Karmeliet on tap, alone, is worth the trip. No food specials here, but pizza is where it's at. Try the amazing Porco — housemade pulled pork, roasted Serrano chiles, fresh mozzarella, and caramelized onions.
11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day; reverse from 10 p.m. until closing Friday and Saturday only. Half off draft beers and wine by the glass.
Dave's Electric Brew Pub
502 South College Avenue, Tempe
Casey Moore's Oyster House
850 South Ash Avenue, Tempe
The appeal of this historic house, built in 1910, on a busy residential corner is hard to pinpoint. It's a little bit shabby. A little bit loud and crowded. Servers can come off as a little too busy. But Casey Moore's somehow makes shabby and aloof seem charming, with its porch and patio outdoor seating and inside nooks and crannies. And when happy hour starts, so start the customers lining up their fixed-speed cruisers along the fence and going in for a cheap pint or two. (Parking sucks, but hey, you shouldn't be driving anyway, right?) The best deal on the happy hour menu might be the wings ($4/dozen), which ends up cheaper than those 35-cent-wing specials at other places. And they're good. People come here for the oysters — on the half shell ($5/half dozen) or Rockefeller ($6/half dozen) — which end up being a good deal, too.
4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Daily beer specials, $1 off drafts, well drinks, and glasses of wine, $2 off appetizers.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
1340 East Eighth Street, Tempe
Four Peaks is always packed, so it pays to show up early if you care about a seat at the bar or a prime table. (Four Peaks has a Scottsdale location, too, on the southeast corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Hayden Road, but we're partial to the original location.) If you don't care, the place is cavernous, and you'll sit somewhere in its bowels. Even then, there really isn't a bad table in this former creamery built in 1892. There's a lot to look at: massive brewing equipment, wood ceilings 35 feet high in places, beautiful brickwork.
Makes no difference if your poison is Kilt Lifter, Hop Knot, or Arizona Peach Ale, $3 pints are so smooth and cold, and the service is so present (sometimes it seems like as many people work here as drink here), customers — college kids, grandparents bouncing babies, Little League teams — don't mind that there are no food specials. Appetizers and pizzas, especially, are reasonable and generous enough to share. The one-step-above-a-mall-pretzel Bavarian pretzels are a table pleaser, 5-Layer Nacho Dip feeds at least one person per layer, and a 16-inch pepperoni pizza is delicious. The dough is made daily with Four Peaks' handcrafted ales, natch.
2 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to closing every day. $3 pints, $11 pitchers.