Milagro Grill in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Spot: Milagro Grill 4280 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, 602-773-5844 www.milagrogrillaz.com

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered everyday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. until close.

See also: Taco Guild in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

The Interior: Located in a higher-end strip mall in Arcadia, Milagro Grill's interior is a bit luxurious. There are two sections in the wood-heavy dining room, with room for traditional tables and more casual high-boys and bistro tables near the bar. The indoor/outdoor bar offers seating as well as TVs with low-volume sports broadcasting. The heavily shaded patio offers misters and enough distance from the street to feel like an outdoor room.

The Food: There are many filling options for happy hour, with food prices ranging from $5 to $8. We skipped the safe options, but they are available if you like: guacamole ($5), chips and salsa ($6) and wings "alitas" ($8). We first tried the Camarones Dulces -- worth every penny at $6. They come three to a plate and the shrimp is perfectly fried and yet not greasy. The large portion of shrimp is served on iceberg lettuce and topped with a spicy aioli with cilantro and picked chile. If you're hungry, order these and refuse to share. The camarones came in slightly ahead of another stand-out, Tostadas de Costilla ($7).

Also served three to a plate, this tostada dish was spicy and moist. Clearly a notch above most happy hour offerings, the tostada has beef short rib, potato purée, aioli and pickled pasilla. Heavy and yet, offering tons of flavor from the short rib, they are a perfect complement to a beer or margarita and a meal unto themselves. Not quite making the list of favorites was the Chile Verde Tacos ($7). The guacamole on the tacos was wonderful but the pork lacked flavor and we could barely taste the tomatillo sauce. One of Milagro's "signature" eats, the PB & J de Puerco, was only offered at $2 off during happy hour for $8. It's a unique dish, but the price point might deter first-timers.

The Drinks: Most days, happy hour comes with extra drink specials. Wednesday brings wine specials, while Monday offers margarita specials. We ordered from the standard happy hour menu which offers beers from $3 to $5, wine ($5-$10), and cocktails ($5-$9).

To accompany your food, the Milagro margarita ($5) is a steal. It's strong and large, as all margaritas should be. A slight upgrade to the Cadillac also went down easy, but not worth the additional $4. The sangria roja at $4 was also tempting as was the Habanero Raspberry Margarita ($6) but our server kindly suggested that it is for true die-hard fans of the pepper, only.

The Conclusion: If you're looking to hit happy hour and skip dinner, Milagro Grill is the perfect spot to meet a group or just a friend. Five dollar margaritas are expertly prepared and unless you're a strict vegetarian, the happy hour food menu is robust. Sure, it might be a litlte more pricey than your average bar, but the quantity and quality are there.

Grade: B+

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