By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
The best part of spending a happy hour at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe is that when you're leaving at 6 p.m., having had a pint of this and a pint of that, you walk past a long line of suckers waiting for tables. They look so thirsty, and a little resentful, and you're so happy.
And you've still got money in your pocket for dinner — if you're still hungry, that is, after having paired all that Arizona Peach Ale with soft pretzels or pepperoni pizza.
Read on, Phoenix, but please, try not to drool on the newspaper or your keyboard. We've gathered dozens of Happy Hour deals at this megalopolis' favorite post-work watering holes — conveniently categorized by neighborhood, to discourage cross-town drinking and driving (in fact, do us all a favor and take a cab if you're over-served, even if it is still light out) — and we dare you to try them all.
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
Because we want you to be happy, we've made sure all this valuable information is available in our new online Happy Hour listings at happyhours.phoenixnewtimes.com/phoenix/places, and if you haven't downloaded Happy Hours, our very own app, you should. It's free.
Oh, thanks, but really, there's no need to tip us. Just go out and have a good time.
The place isn't short on ambiance, either. Enjoy live music (in the lounge, where jazz, funk, and R&B music entertain patrons on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) with contemporary art courtesy of the Paulina Miller Gallery.
3 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to closing Monday through Saturday. $3 mac-and-cheese or spiced sweet potato fries. $3 beer and a revolving list of reduced-price drinks and wines.
And if we're very happy to spend more than an hour here, it's because we get half off our favorite appetizers — like Fritto Misto, deep-fried vegetables in a tasty batter that go down all too well with that half-price martini.
4 to 6 p.m. every day, with half-price martinis and appetizers and $5 by-the-glass wines.
Fez Restaurant and Urban Bar
3815 North Central Avenue
Fez has one of the chummiest Happy Hours in town, seven days a week. Beer fans flock for two-for-one extra-cold drafts and bottles, while wine connoisseurs cruise Fez's small-plate menu (we love the garlic-and-rosemary fries) while sipping special $3 house wines. Mixed drinks are a Happy Hour steal, too — our favorite, the pomegranate margarita, is tall and tart and not too boozy, served in a sweetly sugar-rimmed highball glass and tasty as all get out. It doesn't hurt that the sexy bar staff all look like print models, or that the décor — ultra-modern with a palette of oranges and lime greens and lots of mod lighting on every surface — is as hip and urban as the place's Central Avenue location (right off the light rail!) aspires to be.
4 to 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight every day. Two-for-one well, draft, and bottled beer and signature margaritas, $3 house wine, and $6 small plates.
2611 North Central Avenue
Sure, the décor is straight out of 1957, all oak paneling and gold-veined mirrors and red pleather tuck-and-roll banquettes. But we often find a decidedly hip, under-30 crowd at Durant's when we pop in to enjoy one of the best Happy Hours of any era. On any given weekday, we enjoy our favorite well cocktails (including a super-dry martini, the house specialty in every one of its configurations) and domestic beer at 1950s prices so low that we're always tempted to pair our drinks with something from the appetizer menu. Our favorite combination involves the Durant's Debris (a plate of grilled steak chunks — always tasty) and a Stoli martini, straight up.
4 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. weekdays. $4.50 domestic beer and well cocktails.
The Main Ingredient Ale House and Cafe
2337 North Seventh Street
It's this snug neighborhood bar's signature beer, cleverly called The Main Ale, that originally drew us back to this, the former home of Lisa G's Café and Wine Bar. But The Main Ale's pale, tartly refreshing hops tastes even better, we discovered, when it's half-price. We love that this unpretentious place not only serves Schlitz beer but has paid tribute to the brewer with a kitschy Schlitz lamp in its bar. We're just as fond of the al fresco seating on the patio, where a youngish crowd chills six afternoons a week. (If the back patio is full and you're really lucky, you might snag one of the two front-porch chairs, perfect for watching who's coming and going.) We're also more than fond of the Pro-Pasto, a sampler of cured meets, cheeses, veggies, and olives that makes Happy Hour just that.
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every Monday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Half off all draft beer and liquor, and $4 select wines.
Gallo Blanco Cafe
401 West Clarendon Avenue
There might be something more chic than Happy Hour in the lobby of a swanky boutique hotel, but we can't think of what that might be. Especially when the hotel in question is the Clarendon, home to Gallo Blanco, a restaurant and bar where we love to unwind after a long day at the office. More than the cushy futons and old-fashioned high-stooled wet bar, we love that Gallo Blanco's Happy Hour is all about half-price specialty drinks such as house-made margaritas and super-fruity white sangria and $5 Bloody Marys, instead of the usual well and draft specials that other places offer. And did we mention that big, fried sheet of cheese?
3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Half-price specialty drinks, $5 Bloody Marys and wine, $3 draft beer, specials on tacos and guacamole.
Local Breeze Patio Cafe
606 North Fourth Avenue
After chowing down on Cajun-seasoned Firecracker Shrimp (served with a generous side of garlic toast) and tasty fish tacos spiced with pico de gallo and cilantro lime sauce, we head straight for one of Local Breeze's Atomic Bloody Marys, made with Atomic Horseradish and available in low, medium, or high-yield hotness. To put out our cocktail-induced fire, we usually finish with Alyssa's Pink Bicycle, which sounds like the name of a porno movie but is actually a delicious, dessert-y drink made with vanilla vodka, peach schnapps, and cream. Then, we start all over again! As the name implies, this is the perfect spot to kick back with a cocktail or three — a deep porch, funky old neighborhood and comfy patio furniture.
2:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 20 percent off all menu items and drinks.
1514 North Seventh Avenue
Lately, we've been counting the days until Sunday will roll around again, because SideBar now offers Sunday Service, a weekly party pitched in homage to local service-industry folks but open to everyone who loves a good time and great drinks. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. every Sunday and features the Valley's best DJs spinning swell dance tracks until 2 in the morning. A 20 percent discount on all drinks makes a cool party even cooler — and only slightly more fun than this hot hangout's regular Happy Hour. Don't miss SideBar's White Rabbit, a signature blend of Frangelico, Smirnoff vodka, white Godiva Liqueur, and horchata.
4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. $4 well drinks, $1 off all beers, $2 off wine by the glass, $8 off all wine bottles, $4 appetizers.
5144 North Central Avenue
The bruschetta served at this trendsetting winebar is so magnificently tasty that we'd probably come back even if its Happy Hour weren't one of the friendliest in town. We like a nice, post-work merlot and the Pub Board, a healthy helping of soft pretzels served with chorizo, cornichons, cheddar cheese, and corn nuts. They're served at cozy two- and four-tops on the wide, leafy patio fronted by a two-sided bar that also serves imbibers enjoying Postino's neat, nouveau interior. It doesn't hurt that this happening hangout carries Ca Del Sarto, our favorite Italian pinot grigio, and that the wise guys who run this place (and its Arcadia-adjacent original location, 3939 East Campbell Avenue, 602-852-3939) have reconstructed the traditional Happy Hour into something called The Wine Program.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day: $5 pitchers of beer and select wines. 8 p.m. to closing Mondays and Tuesdays: $20 wine-and-bruschetta specials. Code Word Wednesdays: Check Facebook for the secret word to $5 wine all evening.
111 East Camelback Road
It's all so "big city": A Happy Hour spent in the heart of town, bellied up to an outdoor bar we love like few others, with one of Phoenix's busiest streets right at our back and a gorgeous eatery beckoning to us from just beyond the bartender's shoulder. That's part of the appeal of St. Francis' happy Happy Hour ambiance, where "bar snacks" typically mean spoiling your dinner, because the portions are so huge and so tasty, you may not make it to a table on the other side of the bar. Don't, for example, be fooled by the menu's flat bread, which is actually a delicious pizza big enough for two. Paired with a Happy Hour carafe of wine for a whopping 10 bucks (or a $5 cocktail made from top-shelf liquor) and a basket of house-made vinegar chips, we're on our way to forgetting every transgression of the day.
4 until 6 p.m. every day. $10 carafe of wine, $5 cocktails, $3 draft beer. Bar snacks and appetizer menu with items under $10.
800 East Camelback Road
We're obsessed with Lola and not just because their white sangria (served with a cinnamon stick) can be had for next to nothing ($5 per glass! $20 for a pitcher!) during this tapas joint's Happy Hour. It's because of the endless loop of salsa music that's always playing here. And did we mention the big plate of cookies that's proudly displayed at the end of the bar? We always wait until after we've had a handful of Lola's tasty house-marinated olives and tortilla de Patatas before indulging in a cookie — washed down, of course, with more of that amazing white sangria. Olé!
5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.$20 sangria pitchers.
Maizie's Café and Bistro
4750 North Central Avenue
With close-together tables, a big chalkboard and a little bustle, this cozy neighborhood bistro feels like a place you'd find in a much bigger city — particularly when you look at it with your wine goggles on. We make a beeline for the red sangria and usually follow up with a wine selection from the bartender, who knocks two bucks off any by-the-glass vino during Happy Hour. It's a win-win (or is that wine-wine?) for everyone.
3 to 6 p.m. every day. $3 beer and well drinks. $2 off any by-the-glass wine. $5 appetizer plates.
1602 East Roosevelt Street
Tradiciones' Happy Hour gets straight to the point: half-price appetizers and an always-changing list of drink specials that keep us going back for more. We've been known to indulge in one or two Organic Garden Margaritas, because they do with carrots, cucumbers, jicama, and tomatoes something that no other cocktail has ever done. If we're really trying to be authentic, we go for an on-tap Dos Equis to wash down the appetizer-size Nachos Tradiciones, or a queso fundido, a blend of cheeses warmed up and served with flour tortillas.
3 to 6 p.m. every day. Half-price appetizers and an ever-changing list of drink specials.
Corbin's Bar & Grill
8729 North Central Avenue
Corbin's, the bright yellow box at the northern end of lush, leafy Central Avenue, feels open and sunny despite its austere interior. (A second Corbin's location is at 19420 North 59th Avenue in Glendale.) More retiree hangout than hipster lounge, this place isn't everyone's taste. Hard to be unhappy, though, with offerings like potato skins with cheddar cheese and pulled pork, three kinds of tacos, and beef tenderloin sliders. Bacon-wrapped scallops are fancy and spendy for bar food, but house potato chips with feta and hot sauce are a perfect complement to a 23-ounce draft. The gracious waiter at a bar down the street couldn't recommend Corbin's "kick-ass" cocktails highly enough, and at $3.75 a pop for well drinks, you'll see why.
3 to 7 p.m. weekdays. $5-$9 appetizers, $2.75 domestic bottles or 12-ounce drafts, $6 martinis, $3.75 well drinks.
Bomberos Café & Wine Bar
8801 North Central Avenue, Suite 104
Famosa is a smooth Guatemalan lager with a rooster on the label. It's hard to find, so delight ensued when it showed up on Bomberos Café & Wine Bar's menu. But then it disappeared. "We try to switch it up. Try Quilmes!" insisted a charmingly cheeky waiter. And so "Argentina's Favorite Beer" replaced Famosa and everyone lived happily ever after. Which you could easily do if you never had to leave Bomberos, a tiny South American-themed restaurant in the former Sunnyslope Fire Station complex. Those gigantic fire station window/doors still open onto the street from the dining room. And out back there's a big, dog-friendly patio. There are no happy hour food specials, per se. But Bomberos' menu — bruschetta, panini, artisan cheese plates, a specialty meat plate (chimichurri!), olives — is made for sharing. At $7 to $16, split two or three ways, those are Happy Hour prices.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Half-off glasses of wine and champagne, $4 imported beers.
EAST PHOENIX/PARADISE VALLEY
T. Cook's at the Royal Palms
5200 East Camelback Road
We'd be lying if we said we go to T. Cook's at the Royal Palms just to listen to pianist Dwight Brewer tinkle the ivories during Happy Hour and —because we have a very hard time leaving after just one drink — straight on into the dinner hour. We love Dwight's jazzy way with a tune, but we also love the warm ambiance of this elegant bar, located in the lobby of one of the best restaurants in town. And even if all these cozy, warm rooms with their hand-painted walls and Mediterranean vibe weren't our favorite places to hang after a night of theater or on our way to supper, we'd be there anyway because the T. Cook's Happy Hour features an ever-changing list of $5 drink specials and because we can order any appetizer off the dinner menu (we always make a beeline for the lobster and fennel bisque) for exactly half its normal price during those hours, besides. What's not to love?
5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. An ever-changing menu of $5 drink specials and half-off all appetizers.
4041 North 40th Street
If we have been spotted posing near the outdoor fireplace during certain hours (say, 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays) at the Vig, we want you to know it's because the Happy Hour is so full of fun and yummy cocktails. It has nothing at all to do with the comely waitstaff or the frankly ready-for-the-runway clientele we often see here. (And at the Vig's brand new uptown location, 6015 North 16th Street, 602-633-1187.) Seriously! If we have a crush, it's on the better-than-bar-food bar food here. After imbibing and filling up on Not So Nachos, we always stumble over to the Astroturf bocce ball court for a quick round of Italo-sport, then back to the bar for a nightcap.
3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Half off all appetizers; $2 off all cocktails and glasses of wine, and $1 off bottled beer. On Saturday, Happy Hour lasts all day with half off all draft beer, and again on Sunday with half off all bottled wine.
2502 East Camelback Road
Surrounded by sleek, contemporary décor bathed in natural light, the Kitchen Bar is the white-tiled centerpiece of Christopher's happy hour, inviting its mixed crowd of business travelers, hipsters, romantics, and regulars to pull up a stool and get comfortable in its lively environment. Ten half-price menu items, from Christopher's classic red-bell-pepper soup to the juicy burger with melted Gruyère to the crusty-good wood-fired pizzas, indulge the taste buds, leaving dollars to spare for Happy Hour consumption of house martinis, wines by the glass, premium well drinks, and beer, all half off.
3 to 6 p.m. every day. Well drinks, wines by the glass, beers, and select appetizers half off.
Mbar at Prado Restaurant
4949 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley
Tequila and tapas are just two of the temptations awaiting Happy Hour patrons at Mbar, the cozy lounge fronting the Prado Restaurant at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa. High ceilings and pattern-tiled floors contribute Old World ambiance weaving through Mbar's warmly lit lounge, around the oversize bar and into the outdoor courtyard, where Spanish and Moroccan beats mix with the lively chatter of locals and hotel guests. Nosh-worthy tastes await, from fresh salumi and cheeses to Hawaiian blue prawns with Argentina's cacho de cabre chile to spicy merguez Schreiner's sausage with cumin. Spirit-seekers can choose the refreshing Amante Picante (a blend of Chinaco Blanco tequila, fresh cucumber, and cilantro with agave nectar, fresh lime, and a touch of spice), the Montelucia (a fruity concoction of Beefeater gin, Grand Marnier, red grapes, lemon juice, bitters and a trace of champagne), or one of seven others.
5 to 7 p.m. weekday. $5 house wines, spirits, and imported and domestic beers; $5 select tapas.
Frank & Albert's
2400 East Missouri Avenue
With its contemporary take on the Arts & Crafts movement — a vigorous nod to its home, the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa — Frank & Albert's welcomes guests to sip an organic mojito or refreshing Lavender and Lemons Martini while mingling amid geometric patterns or gazing onto the hotel's lush surroundings. Featuring Southwest-inspired comfort food and using an array of ingredients from local growers, hungry Happy Hour-goers can dine on house smoked salmon with Biltmore-grown lemon-garlic aioli or choose from eight savory nibbles, like the pulled pork empanada or smoked tomato soup shooter. These bite-size packages are big on taste and, at $1.25, easy on the wallet.
4 to 7 p.m. every day. $5 house wines, featured cocktails, and domestic beers; select appetizers half off; $1.25 savory nibbles.
5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale
Why let a spectacular view of a Camelback sunset go to waste? That's what the management at BLT Steak thought. A contemporary, earthy interior sets the stage for BLT Steak's modern lighting to glow golden on guests lounging on one of several comfy sofas, unwinding at the long, dark-wood bar while noshing on gratis spiced popcorn, olives, and salted almonds, or venturing outside to the landscaped patio for a spectacular view. Try the delicious duo of BBQ pork sliders with apple slaw and Ménage cheddar, or sensational spring country pâté, while friendly barkeeps entice with custom cocktails of berry-good Tequila Bramble and Desert Gin & Sin.
5 to 7 p.m. every day. $5 select wines, spirits, and imported and domestic draft beers; $5 appetizers.
El Chorro Lodge
5550 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley
The stone entrance to the recently renovated El Chorro Lodge, situated on 11 acres in the heart of Paradise Valley, opens to a bubbling fountain at the center of a sprawling outdoor patio accented with lush foliage, fireplaces, and a backyard herb and vegetable garden. Happy Hour scenery seekers can look outward from the open-air bar or lounge under one of many blue-canopied tables to enjoy breathtaking views of Mummy and Camelback mountains. The menu's old-school, like the patrons. Sip wise-like on a classic Cosmo while deciding on peel and eat shrimp, the chef's cheese plate, or a beef brisket sandwich.
3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. $6 house wines and spirits; $8 house martinis; $6-$8 appetizers.
Lon's at the Hermosa
5532 North Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
In a city that oozes new, Lon's has remained a heavenly hideaway since the 1930s. Originally the home of painter Alonzo (Lon) Megargee, his "Casa Hermosa" ("beautiful house") is Arizona's only remaining authentic hacienda, beckoning visitors to relax around its adobe fireplaces or stroll the candlelit patio. While Lon's Happy Hour trio invites guests to choose from seven small plates of Southwestern fare, locals and newcomers in the know opt for the free offering of cheeses while strolling the historic hand-built ranch, sipping glasses of wine or prickly-pear margaritas.
4 to 7 p.m. every day. $6 select wines; $5 select cocktails; $4 select beers: three appetizers for $15.
R Bar at Camelback Inn
5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale
Get-togethers at the Camelback Inn's lobby bar/restaurant can get comfortable in oversize sofas and chairs inside the lodge-like interior or take their conversations outside, through open French doors and onto a sprawling high-energy patio filled with fireplaces, live music, and a Camelback sunset. Ten Happy Hour food selections, all under $7, include juicy Angus beef sliders, tilapia-stuffed tacos, and the crowd-favorite guacamole. Equally delightful: R Bar's handcrafted cocktails, such as its orange pineapple mojito and the always-satisfyingly monthly feature.
3 to 6 p.m. every day. $6 featured cocktails; $5 signature margaritas, select wines and beer; $2-$6 select appetizers.
Olive & Ivy
7135 East Camelback Road #195, Scottsdale
Join the business set at the bar or head to the patio for a gander at the "real housewives of Scottsdale." Either way, this Waterfront spot is a Happy Hour must. Start out with a house cocktail such as the Elderflower Drop (Belvedere vodka, St. Germain, Plymouth Gin, and lemon juice) or split a pitcher of (red or white) sangria while you wait for your Mini Tuna Tartar Tacos to arrive. The entire dinner menu (sans entrées) is up for grabs, so order the wild arugula salad or the delectable asparagus and wild mushroom flatbread from one of the surprisingly friendly (because they're so good-looking) servers as well.
4 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Half-price appetizers, salads, flatbreads, wine, and house cocktails as well as beer and liquor specials.
6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale
(enter at 4040 North 69th Street)
Get your Happy Hour fix any day of the week at Trader Vic's Polynesian fusion restaurant and bar. Get there early and have your choice of seating inside the lounge or under the shade of palm trees on the outside patio. The real savings come from the $3 or less appetizer menu. The highlight of the menu is probably the six-ounce Chinese oven-roasted Maui burger, which comes with sweet potato fries and costs a mere $2. The best time to drink at Trader Vic's on the cheap is the weekend, when, in addition to the select cocktail specials, you can also get $3 Stella Artois and Kilt Lifter drafts and select $5 glasses of wine.
4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. every day. $1, $2 and $3 appetizers and $5-$6 cocktail specials, as well as $3 select beers and $5 select wines by the glass (Sundays only).
7277 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale
Nestled cozily between the W Scottsdale's covered valet entrance and inside bar, Sushi Roku is easy to overlook — although overlooking it during Red Sun Happy Hour would be deeply regrettable. Grab a seat at the low-lit bar or one of several high-top tables and start your happy hour right with a $5 Roku Fusion cocktail, a blend of Skyy vodkas with honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple that'll kick in when you least expect it. When it comes to food, the half-priced yellowtail sashimi with diced chilies is tops, and the amiable servers are happy to recommend and explain other dishes off the diverse menu as well.
5 to 7 p.m. weekdays and 12 to 7 p.m. weekends. $5 select appetizers, sushi and drinks, as well as half-off all bottles of wine and sake Sunday and Monday.
Stone Rose Lounge at Fairmont Scottsdale
7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale
A few things worth mentioning up-front about the Stone Rose: You don't have to be registered at the Fairmont to partake in the Happy Hour, celebrity resort guests sporadically drink here, and there's never a cover. Oh yeah, and the scenery is picturesque as all get out. The expansive indoor and outdoor digs (including a cube-shaped exterior bar) are a mix of shiny steel with a modernist appeal. The Spanish colonial architecture of the upscale auberge also take on a glow as the sun sets, as does the illuminated white marble bar top. For those without expense accounts, select wells and house wines are half-price, as is a menu of small bites and chic pub grub. We recommend the tender and flavorful crab cakes lightly drizzled with a raspberry sauce.
5:30 to 7 p.m. every day. Half-price small bites bar menu, free Goldfish pretzels, and half-price house wines and select well drinks; select bottles half off on Friday and Saturday.
4422 North 75th Street, Scottsdale
The Lodge is kind of like your dad's ski lodge mated with a sports bar — there's a homey feel to the place, but with plenty of space to drink, shoot pool, or watch the game on strategically placed plasma flat screens. Skip the weak Coors Light in favor of a sweeter sip from a pint of the Lodge's honey brown house ale. It's perfect with any of the Midwestern-style apps, including the crisply fried cheese curds. The combo of a burger or brat and a beer can also be purchased for $6.
Different drink and appetizer specials each day of the week from 3 to 7 p.m., such as $3 Lodge beer, $3 well drinks, $3 Coors Light, and $6 beer and burger/brat specials.
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.
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.
Rúla Búla Irish Pub & Restaurant
401 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
True to its name (roughly translated from Gaelic, the pub's name means "uproar and commotion"), Rúla Búla gets crowded, so Happy Hour is a perfect time to squeeze in for a pint. Located in a historic building on the northern end of Mill, this pub is a charming chestnut, all antique wood, retro Guinness signs (check out the tile work at the front doors), and bright paint. Squint inside and you're across the pond in Limerick. Or belly up to the full bar outside and you're . . . shaded by the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, to be honest. Either way, fresh Guinness flows from the taps. Appetizers are astonishingly cheap. The fried fish nuggets — a smaller order of Rúla Búla's award-winning fish and chips — are a must-try. And you better order the chicken wings with Guinness barbecue sauce, too.
2 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 2 p.m. until closing Sunday. Half-price appetizers; $1 off well drinks and 20-ounce drafts; $3 16-ounce drafts.
San Tan Brewing Company
8 South San Marcos Plaza, Chandler
Any true desert has a few good watering holes. These places are often kept secret (you know how it goes), rarely disclosed to newcomers, and typically frequented by the in crowd. So maybe you don't know about San Tan Brewing Company. You should. Televisions showing various sports games decorate the red brick interior, servers bounce from table to table with pitchers and pints, and the place brews its own. This place has the expected Buffalo wings, chips and dip, and platter of sliders, but they also throw in a healthy dose of cilantro lime hummus and fried onion rings and zucchini. (Hey, they're veggies!)
3 to 7 p.m. weekdays; Reverse Happy Hour 9 p.m. to closing Sunday through Thursday. $4 house wine, $3.75 18-ounce pints, $5 appetizers, $1 off everything behind the bar.
4991 South Alma School Road, Suite 101
The Promenade at Fulton Ranch, Mesa
It might be easy to lose your friends, or yourself, in the enclaves of this restaurant, which are sectioned off by intricate chain-link curtains and high-rise booths. But the bar can be found easily if you listen for the often-used martini shaker. The overall modern, Las Vegas-y interior complements the fancier champagne cocktails (check out the Modern Classic with blood orange bitters) and appetizers like jalapeño-crusted ahi tuna. Cork is a wonderful hideaway on a weekday afternoon, where it's perfectly normal to sip hibiscus margaritas and chat up the sociable bartender. He jokes about being a wine angel in the large walk-in cellar, and truth is, he might actually let you watch him climb the sliding ladder if you stick around long enough.
4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. $4 champagne cocktails, martinis, margaritas and house wines, $5 bottomless bowl of olives, special happy hour appetizer menu.
The Living Room
2475 West Queen Creek Road, Chandler
Don't bring the office drama home — just take it to The Living Room, a casual wine bar complete with lounge sofas, board games, and a wraparound bar. On cooler days, The Living Room staff opens the glass garage-door style doors to the large curtained patio — hope you weren't trying to hide from your boss by sitting outside. Keep it simple with a bruschetta/wine combo or mix it up with a specialty cocktail, like a Root Beer martini. While the Happy Hour menu doesn't include food, most of the appetizers, salads and bruschetta are under $10.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m, daily. $5 wines, $3 well drinks, $2.50 drafts, $5 specialty martinis.
Caffe Boa Bistro
2837 North Power Road #102, Mesa
Sometimes it's hard to beat the original, but Jay and Christine Wisniewski are giving it a shot. They opened Caffe Boa on Mill Avenue in Tempe (398 South Mill Avenue, 480-968-9112) in Tempe 18 years ago. In January, they opened Boa Bistro in Mesa. The new location has a different atmosphere from that of its big sister — no bar-crawl avenue, flood of college students, or Tempe Town Lake aroma. What it does have is a rotating all-star staff, including executive chef Payton Curry. For Happy Hour, Curry & Co. toss up local ingredients from local farms (McClendon and Seacat) and offer half-price mussels, flatbreads, and fresh-pulled mozzarella.
3 to 6 p.m. every day. Half-price bar bites menu; half-price wines, $2/$3 domestic/import brews, half-price bar bites menu, $3 off New World cocktails, $3 off well drinks.
8280 West Union Hills Drive, Glendale
The regular dinner menu crafted by executive chef Charles Wade Schwerd (formerly of Mastro's and Drinkwater's City Hall) tops out at around $50, so get charred meat on the cheap during the late-night Happy Hour at Arrowhead Grill. The filet slider (a two-ounce steak medallion, red onions, and a savory dipping sauce) are the choice of the many Phoenix Coyotes fans hitting up the place for a post-game nosh. Too dainty? Pig out on pig wings (made from juicy pork shanks and paired with a piquant mixture of spicy ranch on the side) or enjoy a bacon-wrapped filet and baked potato on special for $19.99. A discounted AG martini or glass of pinot noir would go well with either.
9 to 10 p.m. weekdays. Half-price bar menu,free mixed nuts, half-price select house winesand mixed drinks.
20004 North 67th Avenue #500, Glendale
NoRTH is unlike any other restaurant/bar combo in the Northwest Valley, with its chrome-and-teak décor and its high-ceilinged, big-city ambiance. We love that there's a separate food-and-cocktail menu for Happy Hour here, and we've made a habit of enjoying a tall, chilly Succo di Bacca (light rum, fresh strawberries, lemon juice, and fennel syrup topped with Moscato d'Asti) and a Chopped Chicken Salad, in part because we haven't seen either of these items on a single other Happy Hour menu anywhere in town —except, of course, for NoRTH's Scottsdale location (15024 North Scottsdale Road, 480-948-2055).
3 until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. $4.50-$5.50 bar plates; reduced wine, beer and cocktail prices.
Westgate City Center
6751 North Sunset Boulevard, Glendale
Okay. We tried to make a Pamajito at home. We'd had one at a recent Bice's Happy Hour, and we figured we could save a few bucks by making our own. We were wrong. Something about the way the mixologists at Bice Bistro blend Pama pomegranate liqueur and Bacardi with fresh lime, club soda, and raw sugar eludes us. And we'd never dream of trying to duplicate Bice's Prosciutto di Parma con Melone Dolce; we can't even pronounce it! We're also sort of mad for the fried green beans and the calamari, both available for a wee fee of $5 from the bar's small plate menu.
4 to 7 p.m. weekdays; $4 domestic and imported beers; $3 off all signature drinks, well drinks, and wines by the glass; $5 small plates.