El Chorro in Paradise Valley: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close.

The Interior: For being nearly 80 years old, El Chorro looks pretty darn good. The Southwestern archway leads to a tiled fountain and a large, open patio. On the inside, its rustic but classy décor easily could house any event you have in the works. Happy hour is offered exclusively in the bar in lounge area, but there's ample seating. The stage was set for a perfect drink and snack.

The Food: We're not going to sugarcoat this one -- El Chorro's happy hour menu is expensive. We were immediately drawn to the flash-fried lobster tail dish with remoulade and drawn butter. Unfortunately, it's market price the day we went was $48. $48? For a happy hour dish? You must be joking. Never have we ever seen happy hour fare so expensive -- but it is lobster. We moved along to other dishes.

The "farmers market vegetable bowl" is a bowl of uncooked broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, tomatoes, radishes, and olives on ice (which made the veggies waterlogged, not crisp) for $7. We don't know what farmers market the chef attends, but all the ones we hit up certainly have more interesting options than the standard veggies we received. Plus the accompanying hummus and poblano ranch dip were so bland that they weren't even worth the dip.

We also tried the shrimp cocktail ($18) and the trio Schriener's sausage platter ($11). Both had small portions, high prices, and no flavor to speak of. We are not impressed El Chorro.

The Drink: There were a few different wine options for $5 per glass and that's it. The happy hour food menu was presented next to the seasonal cocktail and beer list, but you'll be paying full price for those. The one redeeming aspect of this visit was the French 75 cocktail with Noblet's gin, champagne, simple syrup, and citrus, but it was full-priced at $10, so you can get that any time.

The Conclusion: For two cocktails and three plates we spent a total of $60.93, tax included. If it was a stellar happy hour experience, we would have winced at the price and moved on. Unfortunately, the food was just unreasonably bland and the service was pretty slow. What a disappointment from such a pretty place.

Grade: D

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