The Hours: 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
The Details: All beer is $3 and cocktails are $5. As for wine, it depends on when you get there: From 3 to 4 p.m., all glasses of wine are only $3 and bottles only $12. This deal jumps up to $4/16 from 4 to 5 p.m., and finally $5/$20 from 5 to 6 p.m. There are no appetizer discounts, but you can still pair your drinks with a selection of five tasty "nibbles," priced from $4 to $6 each.
The Interior: Tucked away in the Coronado Historic Neighborhood outside downtown Phoenix, Astor House -- like the sister restaurant, Tuck Shop, to which it's attached -- can be easy to miss (Hint: If you've gone around the traffic circle and past the Sunshine Market, you've gone too far). Open since April, Astor House is the kind of cute gathering spot that makes you think every neighborhood should pick a house or two to sacrifice to the gods of community leisure and nibbles.
Inside, the space is contemporary-chic, as though HGTV had just wrapped filming there (maybe Color Splash or Secrets from a Stylist?): There are bright white chairs, tables topped with lavender daisies, and colorful art on the walls. Outside, you can relax on an equally inviting patio space -- with umbrellas to hide you from the summer sun. You order from a counter at Astor House, but that doesn't mean that service isn't attentive -- whether in refilling your water glass from an ever-ready pitcher or kindly escorting the occasional stray fly out the front door. Add all this to free WiFi, and you could easily spend an afternoon.
The Cost: A bottle of wine plus four nibbles -- more than enough to share -- came out to $32 before tip and tax.
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The Conclusion: We arrived during the 3 p.m. hour and ordered a bottle of the Rojo Mojo Tempranillo, a Spanish wine described (and gladly experienced) as low on tannins, and the most popular red at Astor House. For nibbles, we went with the warm focaccia, Ms. Lynne's Dip & Chips, spinach pie, and Nosh Plate. The dip is "exceptional," said our server -- so long as you're a fan of garlic (it's described in the menu as made of "cream cheese and lotsa garlic," at least three servings up from some-a garlic). We had to agree; with a heaping pile of crunchy potato chips and a creamy, fresh -- and, yes, garlicky -- dip, the Ms. Lynne's nibble ($4) was one of our standout favorites. If you arrive at Astor House just a bit peckish, pair this with the Nosh Plate (crackers, cheese, salumi, nuts, and jam; $5) for a spread of light snacks filled with memorable flavors.
We were unsurprisingly impressed with the cozy Astor House atmosphere, but the new happy-hour venue loses some points for the drinks-only discounts. And though we're tickled by the progressive wine deals, it's a lot easier to appreciate the system when you arrive at 3 p.m. than it is at 5. Still, sitting in such a bright, sunny, and welcoming spot -- with a bottle of wine and a side of nibbles -- it's hard to complain.
Overall Grade: B+