House of Tricks in Tempe: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: House of Tricks 114 East Seventh Street, Tempe 480-968-1114 www.houseoftricks.com

See also: Virtú Honest Craft in Scottsdale: Happy Hour Report Card

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Monday through Saturday from 4 until 6 p.m.

The Interior: A beautiful patio and slowly improving weather make House of Tricks a great post-work or Saturday afternoon imbibing spot this fall. The quaint outdoor bar area, which is where you can take advantage of happy hour discounts, is tranquil with full-grown trees sprouting in the middle of the floor and bar itself. The green and white color scheme, iron patio furniture with bright white linens and attentive service scream tea party, but what you'll get from HoT will certainly be a lot stronger and tastier than a cup of Earl Grey.

The Food: You won't find a plate of Sysco-prepared unfrozen and reheated pizza poppers on special at House of Tricks during happy hour, and, while they do offer a (Sonoran) hot dog ($8) on the menu, the eats are all HoT quality. Grilled shrimp tacos are given an Asian twist with pickled veggies and a Sriracha aoli. The cracker jack ($4), displayed in an uber-cute vintage-looking popcorn bag, is grown up with sweet, savory and smokey flavors from the cashews, caramel and Tender Belly bacon.

Our two favorite dishes on the current menu list include the shishito peppers and bruschetta. The roasted, spicy and sweet shishitos ($7.50) sit in a pool of delicious Asian caramel and Togarashi goat cheese, creating one of those signature House of Tricks flavor explosions that make meals there unforgettable and craveworthy. The bruschetta ($9), topped with a generous smear of creamy,tangy goat cheese, salty, fatty prosciutto, rich, sweet black mission figs and peppery arugula, is another one of those flavor explosive moments that we've come to love and expect from House of Tricks. Our main issue with the food is that, even after four plates, it functioned all too well as an appetizer and at the end of happy hour we just wanted to stay for dinner--or maybe forever.

The Drink: During happy hour, you'll get $2 off glasses of wine and $1 off beer and cocktails at House of Tricks' bar. After sampling seasonal cocktails time and time again at HoT and knowing how deliciously satisfying they always are, we're just going to say you may as well go for the measly $1 off specialty cocktails and enjoy yourself. The Green Thing, which is $10 discounted, combines Hendrick's gin, cucumber, simple syrup and citrus for a refreshing, light and summery cocktail. The Ponyo Express, which might have one of the best cocktail names in town, is a $9 coconutty rum cocktail with a Orbitz soda-esque presentation. Both drinks are worth the $10 spot you'll shell out, so suck it up.

The Conclusion: Every dish was an absolutely delicious and unique flavor experience. Every drink was tasty and refreshing. The service was speedy and cordial. The surroundings were calm and beautiful. Knock some of those drink prices down a smidge and House of Tricks' happy hour would be an A+.

Grade: A-

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