Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails
5813 N. 7th Street
The Hours: Happy hour is offered from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Perfect For: A classy, Southern-inspired get-together with a small group of co-workers or friends.
The Interior: Located on the back side of The Crown, a yet-to-be-finished development on 7th Street in Phoenix, Okra is designed to look and feel like a sleek Southern barn. The combination of brick accents, white walls, and colorful chalkboard menus makes the small restaurant cozy but modern, and guests can either sit at the wood-top bar or at one of the dining room tables, which offer a peek into the open kitchen. During happy hour (at least, at this time of year), you'll get to watch the restaurant go from a sun-drenched space to a dimly lit eatery that's both romantic and lively.
The Food: With 13 options ranging from $3 'Nduja dates to a $9 pimento cheese burger, Okra's happy hour grub menu aims to please. If you want to make a light meal for one, you could opt for the aforementioned burger or an order of wings, while smaller appetites or groups of diners can enjoy sharable plates such as fried chicken skins, hush puppies, or greens and pork belly bites.
We couldnt't skip the grilled okra ($3 during happy hour, $4 normally), which arrived from the kitchen on a charming vintage plate. If you think you don't like this Southern staple because of its slimy texture, then you've clearly never had chef Cullen Campbell's version of the dish. The deep green veggies offered a delicately crunch and were grilled to a beautiful blistered black in a few spots. The gentle smoky flavor contrasted perfectly with the fresh Crow's Dairy quark that came drizzled on top.
We also ordered the Diavolo focaccia ($8 during happy hour, $14 normally). And for the record, when you see "focaccia" on this menu, you may as well just think "really good pizza" — pizza topped with Calabrese sausage, mozzarella, and desert honey, in this case. With spicy dried sausage playing against the sweet honey, every bite of this dish was bursting with contrasting flavors.
The Drinks: Happy hour at Okra means $3 off all the Southern Standards cocktails, and while it'll be hard to resist the creative juleps and one-of-a-kind house creations, there's still plenty to explore while also getting a good deal. In addition to familiar classics like a French 75, Old Fashioned, and Hurricane, the Southern Standards list also include a few more obscure choices including the Pendennis System (gin, apricot, lime, and bitters) and the Cobbler (bourbon, sherry, orange, and seasonal fruit). And with the happy hour discount, these well-crafted cocktails will set you back anywhere from just $5 to $7.
We enjoyed the Seelbach, a bourbon-based cocktail rounded out with Cointreau, bitters, and sparkling wine ($7 during happy hour, $10 normally). Named after the Louisville hotel where it was first created, it's a refreshing and sweet — but not overly so. Plus, it comes in a champagne flute, and it's impossible not to feel classy when you're sipping out of one of those.
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Conclusion: Like it's sister restaurant Crudo, Oka's happy hour delivers on the three most important criteria for a great happy hour experience: good drinks, good food, and fair prices. If you make your choices wisely you can enjoy one of the best cocktails in town and light snack for under $10, and if that's not a deal, then we don't know what is. The size of the restaurant makes Okra best for a more intimate group, but we're more than happy to only invite our closest friends to get in on this new discovery.
Don't Miss: Grilled okra
Skip This: Getting lost on the way to the restaurant. Just remember it's on the backside of the complex and not visible from the street.