Bar Crudo in Arcadia: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Spot: Bar Crudo 3603 East Indian School Road 602-358-8666 www.crudoaz.com

See Also: Here Are the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame 2014 Nominees

The Hours: Happy hour is offered 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

The Interior: When Crudo announced the unveiling of a new cocktail and happy hour menu, we jumped at the opportunity to return. If you haven't been to Crudo yet, happy hour is the ideal time to go because of the generous deals on both chef Cullen Campbell's delicious bar bites and mixologist Micah Olson's craft cocktails. Snag a spot at the bar for a show of some of the Valley's best bartenders mixing drinks in beautiful barware or cozy up in one of the lounge area's plush living room style setups. Either way, you're sure to get fast, friendly service.

The Food: With $5 upscale bar snacks and plates of artisan cheese, you easily can keep your tab to a manageable amount on a budget. The crispy pig ears, which are lightly sweet and salty and perfectly fatty with chiles on top, are one of those dishes that you'll be hooked on after an order -- imagine what it would taste like if potato chips and pork belly had a baby. From the cheese list, both the fresh mozzarella with caramelized onions and bacon relish or smooth ricotta with grilled pear, chive, and honey are great options -- especially if you're as cheese-obsessed as we are.

It might be difficult to stick to the $5 options if your eyes wander down the menu list to the crudo list. If you're willing to drop $12 during happy hour, we highly suggest the fresh ahi crudo with grilled lemon, pickled green garlic, and parsley. The bright citrus flavors and subtle herby hit from the parsley make for a perfect light summertime snack -- so keep that in your back pocket for the rapidly impending heatwave. If fish isn't your thing, Crudo also offers a hefty $12 meatloaf burger during happy hour.

The Drink: Although there are generous discounts on beer and wine during happy hour, we can't emphasize enough the level of crazy you'd be if you didn't get one of nearly 20 different $5 classic cocktails offered at Bar Crudo during happy hour. If you've ever wondered exactly how a daiquiri, caipirinha, or negroni should taste, try it at Crudo during happy hour. The Bee's Knees, a seemingly simple mix of gin, honey, and lemon, likely will be one of your new favorite cocktails, with its smooth texture and tart sweetness.

The Conclusion: Hmm . . . Let's see. Great food, great service, and a cocktail lover's dream list of $5 drinks makes Crudo's happy hour easily one of the best, if not the best, happy hour in Phoenix. Plus, the bar's music playlist is pretty cool too, with upbeat selections from modern indie artists and some classic favorites. We're not really sure how you could improve on this one.

Grade: A+

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