Kitchen 56 in Arcadia: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Kitchen 56 3433 North 56th Street, Phoenix 480-994-5656 www.kitchen56.com

See also: Fried Banana Split at Kitchen 56

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 until 6 p.m.

The Interior: The remodeled vintage gas station turned restaurant is the kind of neighborhood bar that becomes an instant favorite with indoor and outdoor seating, which are both bar accessible. Its clean, retro style is simple and unintimidating--the exact kind of atmosphere you'd hope for in a local joint. In its third year, Kitchen 56 is still going strong as a bastion of food, drink and relaxation in the community. Plus, we absolutely love the outdoor water feature on the patio.

The Food: Homemade salsa, spicy wings, fish and chips and an Asian-inspired sesame ginger salad are just some of the options available to happy hour diners, all priced at $5.56. The wings, which are coated in a spicy, tangy cilantro and garlic sauce, are as tasty as they are plentiful. The plate could be a meal in itself with about a dozen wings for under $6. The sesame ginger salad is flavorful and fresh, with crispy wonton strips and sesame seeds to add crunch. While the fish and chips comes in a generous portion, the super tender fried fish strips are less firm then we're used to in a fish fry, verging on floppy. Plus, the chips are just French fries, not the thick, wedge-cut potatoey chips that lend themselves to a generous slathering of malt vinegar that typically accompany fish.

While Kitchen 56 has a lot of different styles and influences in the dishes, the execution of it all isn't entirely successful. However, for $5.56 per item, you do get a sizable portion of tasty bar favorites that are well worth the low price tag.

The Drink: The $5.56 pricing theme carries over to the drink menu with signature cocktails, sangria and well cocktails. Why anyone would get a well cocktail for the same price as the adult lemonades is a mystery to us, so we went straight for the green tea lemonade. Made with green tea vodka, lemonade, smashed strawberries and mint, this drink is fruity and tart with a subtle herbal flavor from the green tea vodka. While we aren't crazy about the flavored vodka craze, this is admittedly a yummy, drinkable cocktail, which is nothing to sneer at. Kitchen 56 also offers $1 off drafts and $2 off glasses of wine during happy hour.

The Conclusion: With elements of cuisine from Asia to England to the South and Southwest, the menu could use a little honing in to ensure consistency. While the cocktails depend largely on flavored vodkas, rather than freshly infused flavors common in craft cocktails, the drinks are all still delicious and can be filed under the guilty pleasures category for serious imbibers. What Kitchen 56's happy hour does best of all is being inexpensive, making it a lot easier to overlook the little qualms we had.

Grade: B+

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