El Chorro in Paradise Valley: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: El Chorro 5550 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, (480) 948-5170 www.elchorro.com

The Hours: Summer happy happy hour food and drink specials are available from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

See also: Milagro Grill in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

The Interior: El Chorro is one of those places that manages to be vintage without being dusty. Filled with tile, wood, and other earmarks of Southwestern charm, the interior has an open, modern layout, and the bar is busy even during the week. The indoor bar extends outdoors when set up to do so, and some folks are brave enough to sit on the patio. The happy hour is available at the bar, at the bar lounge tables, and at the narrow gathering table nearby. Set between Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain, El Chorro seems upscale from the get-go. We were there to try the new lower-priced happy hour menu.

The Food: There are eight items on the happy hour menu at just $3! This includes vegetable crudite, grilled street tacos, artisan Brie, and crispy chicken livers. Clearly, upscale and, dare we suggest, healthier than most. Also offered for just $3 are El Chorro Margarita, domestic bottled beer, house chardonnay and house Cabernet Sauvignon.

We tried the deviled eggs ($3), famous El Charro sticky buns ($3), and the beef sliders with fries ($3). The deviled eggs were perfect for a hot summer day. Highly styled on their plate and served 4 to a plate, they were creamy and flavorful. With a little more substance the beef sliders with cheese provided some bulk to the happy hour offerings. Complete with fries, we had high expectations. The sliders were hearty and filling. Unfortunately, one of the sliders was overcooked (the other two are perfect) and the buns seemed slightly dry. Still, they were pretty tasty and the fries were salted and perfect for happy hour sharing. Topping off the mini meal were the sticky buns, which are just as you remember them, delicious.

The Drinks: The El Chorro Margarita was delicious, but weak so we ponied up for the full price "Canalopupeing Mule," a signature beverage. Served in an ice cold copper mug with fresh cantaloupe on top, it's as delicious, as any ginger beer and cantaloupe combination should be. Still, we wished the happy hour drink menu offered something more out of the ordinary. Note that your bill may show a "deposit" for the copper mug of $35, which surprised us from such a high-end establishment. We gave the mug to the server and asked her to re-run the ticket, sans deposit and she obliged.

The Conclusion: For two cocktails and three plates we spent a total of about $26, which is must cheaper than previous Happy Hour Report Cards at El Chorro. We loved the prices, (who doesn't love $3 in Paradise Valley!) the atmosphere and the majority of the food and drink.

Grade: A-

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