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Cafe ZuZu: Happy Hour Report Card

The Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup app - $5 during happy hour - was rich and warm, and only missing a quilt and a roaring fire.
The Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup app - $5 during happy hour - was rich and warm, and only missing a quilt and a roaring fire.

The Spot: Cafe ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251. (480) 421-7997.

The Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday

The Details: Labeled "Cool Redux" and printed on pretty cyan paper, the Cafe ZuZu happy hour features five appetizers for $5 (including Spinach Artichoke Dip, Mini Pork Shanks, and Prime Rib Dip). On the drink menu are six signature cocktails, four wines by the glass, and four beer specials, each for only $3. This $3 price-tag makes cocktails like the Hot 'N' Dirty and ZuZu Senorita a steal. (The Miller Light? Less so.)

The Pomegranate Fizz signature cocktail, $3.
The Pomegranate Fizz signature cocktail, $3.

​We chose a table on the patio (after first checking in inside) to people-watch and ordered a glass of wine and a Pomegranate Fizz off the cocktails list. Made with Smirnoff vodka, pomegranate, and sparkling wine, this sweet and fizzy drink tastes a little like red sangria.

Passing by is a variety of men in shorts and sandals lingering on cellphones and women in pantsuits teetering on heels so high they could put their Renaissance counterparts' platform shoes to shame. The palm trees are rustling in the afternoon's cool breeze - a more than welcome relief from our sunny winter.

Still, in homage to the winter season we order the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (does this come with a blanket?) and the Petite Cheese Selection. It doesn't take long after they arrive for a nearby table to peer with hungry eyes and order the same thing.

 

Happily, there wasn't much "petite" about the Petite Cheese Selection, $5.
Happily, there wasn't much "petite" about the Petite Cheese Selection, $5.

The Interior: At a little after 4 p.m. on a Thursday (when the nearby Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is free), the round tables in the lounge are already filled with groups toasting $3 bottles of PBR and glasses of Zolo Merlot, while outside post-golf-game foursomes are settling into their "usual spot." The patio is a bright and colorful, extensive space that looks out on the pool - a shining tribute to the hotel's embracing of its chic, mid-century modern roots (when designers in the '50s imagined what they thought the future would look like, and seemed to anticipate Austin Powers). This is the spot, after all, where stars like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe used to stay. Over the speakers, you can hear Motown classics like "Baby I Need Your Loving."

Sleek and colorful, the Cafe ZuZu patio is an ideal happy hour spot.
Sleek and colorful, the Cafe ZuZu patio is an ideal happy hour spot.

The Cost: Two apps, one signature cocktail, and a glass of wine comes to $16 before tax and tip.

The Conclusion: The last time we visited Cafe ZuZu's happy hour was 2010. Since then, it has waved goodbye to its nearby companion, Trader Vic's (we pass by staff rolling tables out of the front doors and toward ZuZu), and raised the prices on apps from $3 to $5. Not that we could really complain, when the atmosphere was so relaxing and the service so attentive. Our Petite Cheese Selection put many a happy-hour cheese plate to shame, with its ample servings and thick breads, while the Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup was a warm and satisfying update of the old favorite. The glory days of Bette Davis and Cary Grant may be over, but for a little slice of mid-century paradise, Cafe ZuZu's happy hour is still a "cool" spot to spend an afternoon.

Overall Grade: A

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ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho

6850 E. Main St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-248-2000

www.cafe-zuzu.com


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