Happy Hour

Garage in North Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Garage Wine & Tap 1534 East Bethany Home Road 602-265-4125 www.garagewinetap.com

See Also: Now Open: La Bocca Wine Bar & Urban Kitchen at CityNorth in North Phoenix

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.

The Interior: Garage Wine & Tap has some great neighbors in Luci's Healthy Marketplace and Dick's Hideaway. The 16th Street and Bethany Home Road intersection continues to be a NoPho hotspot for good eats, so walking into Garage, a casual spot with bikes hung on the walls and a partially open-air bar with a patio, you'd likely expect the same quality that you'd find at neighboring restaurants. Unfortunately, location isn't everything.

The Food: Five different $5 appetizer plates are up for grabs during happy hour at Garage. Offerings include beer battered fries tossed in parmesan and deviled eggs with truffle oil, for reasons we could only assume would make Anthony Bourdain just flip out. Starting with the "Anti-Pasto" plate, we expected some schmears, cheese, pickled veggies, bread, and artisanal meats -- you know, the usual stuff. We were met with bread that tasted like it came from a supermarket bakery, low-quality salami, a ball of goat cheese covered in herbs to look fancy, and three disgustingly sweet spreads. Menu description aside, the spreads seemed like sweetened raw garlic from a jar, Heinz sweet relish from a squeeze bottle, and some mushed-up red sweet peppers.

After literally spitting that out and moving on, we tried both the lamb and shrimp kebabs. While neither was a home run, with the quality of shrimp and lamb both being mid-range at best, after that "Anti-Pasto," we were happy to eat anything with some level of cooking skill and natural flavor left in it.

The Drink: Drink prices at Garage are about $1 more than other places during regular hours, so during happy hour, drinks are discounted down to a not-so-competitive level. For example, wells are $5 during happy hour at Garage, when they're typically $3 or $4 other places. Wine is also discounted $2 off per glass and draft beer is knocked $1 down per pint. However, pints are mostly $6 during regular hours, whereas most other bars offer craft beer pints regularly priced at $5.

The Conclusion: With some questionable menu choices and an absolutely gross "anti-pasto" plate, the food isn't going to get us to come back to Garage. Since the drinks are overpriced, even during happy hour, we aren't going back for those either. If you're in North Phoenix, just go to Richardson's for happy hour -- we guarantee you'll be much more satisfied.

Grade: D

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch