Chino Bandido in Chandler: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Chino Bandido 1825 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler http://www.chinobandido.com/

The Hours: Happy hour at the Chandler location is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

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The Interior: Located in a large space in a commercial area, but hidden in the back of the property, Chino Bandido is hard to find but once you do, you'll find plenty of space to fit your party -- large tables seat between 6 and 12 guests and the place is huge. Low on frills but big on portions, Chino Bandido's Chandler location is not glamorous but that's not why we love Chino Bandido anyway. Someone once said that the local chain is the "Reese's peanut butter cup of restaurants." This is reflected in the decor, part hole in the wall and part cafeteria, it's nothing special but you can't resist. Plates are paper, tables are plastic and chairs do not invite lingering. It's come as you are, and sometimes that's what you need in a happy hour. We were there to check the joint's new happy hour.

The Food: Everyone seems to have their favorite order at Chino Bandido so you may be tempting to get something from the happy hour menu as an appetizer and then carry over to dinner. The happy hour menu offers standbys likes chips and salsa ($3), guacamole and chips ($5) and taquitos ($5) but we went for the more flavorful sounding loaded machaca nachos ($5) and jade red chicken wings ($5).

The best part of the nachos wasn't the machaca, although that filled us up, it was the black beans that made the dish! But, the cardinal rule of nachos, which are for sharing, is that you've got to spread the toppings around. Under the mound of sour cream, we found only the black bean sauce and machaca spread around. All of the cheese and other toppings were pilled in the center making sharing hard and some chips soggy. No bueno.

The chicken wings came in a large portion. Perfect for sharing with at least one other person. The sauce was flavorful, but the wings should have been crispier on the outside. That was really the only downside to this delicious dish. Slightly spicy and tasty, these wings are just different enough for the normal wing lover and the foodie. Best with beer.

The Drinks: And beer is what you'll be having at Chino Bandido. The drink specials are, $6 PBR Buckets, $8 Domestic Beer Buckets and $10 Imported Beer Buckets of Corona, Dos Equis or Tsing Tao- our favorite. This is great if you have a group, hard if you're flying solo or just meeting one friend.

Conclusion: This happy hour supposedly comes with live music (on Thursday nights starting at 5:30 p.m.) but we didn't see any sign of that the Thursday we visited. The staff was young and a little scattered with orders-- they tried to bring us two things we didn't order--but those items looked delicious. Overall the experience was nearly what we expected. Chino Bandido is perfect for a large group happy hour, but lacking ambiance or service for an duo or trio. Afterall it's casual, really casual. Post hike? check. After work with the boys? check. Satisfying food? check. Not a lot of drink options, but this is the kind of place where all you need is beer. We're hoping as the restaurant continues offering a happy hour the kinks will work out.

Grade: B-

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