The Spot: Maizie's Café and Bistro, 4750 North Central Avenue Phoenix, 602-274-2828, www.maiziescafe.com.
The Hours: Happy Hour is offered from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The Interior: We're impressed: Central Phoenix has managed to pull off a bistro in a strip mall without it seeming completely suburban and, well, lame. While the clean, bright décor in Maizie's interior is certainly a pleasant place to be, this time of year the patio is the best spot to take advantage of great happy hour deals while watching a few light rail trains pass. The outdoor area has a mixture of chair and bench-style couch seating and usually has some shaded and some sunny areas, for your lighting pleasure.
The Food: Any of the apps on Maizie's regular menu marked with an "HH" are $5 during happy hour, which includes their roasted garlic hummus and smoked pork sliders. We opted for the pesto and mozz bruschetta with marinated olives and tomatoes. The tangy pesto and creamy mozzarella work well with the briney olives, but the only downside is you have to eat it pretty quickly before the thick crostini gets soggy with the generous drizzling of olive oil and a balsamic reduction. Not that it's really very difficult to chow down considering how tasty it is.
The Drink: With wells, brews and house wines all reasonably priced at $3, it's pretty much up to your own preference where Maizie's happy hour will take you. We started with the sangria, a boozy, yet light blend of fruit, wine, liquor and "love," according to the menu. It wasn't the most interesting sangria we've ever had, but it's certainly well worth the $3.
Considering we started going to Maizie's for their awesome wines, their beer selection is also pretty impressive. With offerings such as Nectar Ales' Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale, Left Hand's Milk Stout Nitro and Maui's CoCoNut PorTeR, it was hard to pick just one beer to crack open. But since happy hour is actually four hours, you can just relax and sip on one flavorful brew after another.
The Conclusion: It's no wonder Maizie's patio was buzzing with an array of different types of folks. The food and drink deals are great and the quality is high for bar fare. The pricing shows that it's a completely unpretentious take on a bistro and it works. (We just have to mention the fact that Maizie's does a $4 bistro burger and fries on Mondays-- a serious deal!)