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: Paul Martin’s American Grill
The Hours: Happy hour is served in the bar and on the patio every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Perfect For: Wining and dining with a business casual vibe. This is where you meet your girlfriend for a good martini or have an after-work happy hour with your buds in the financial sector.
The Interior: Paul Martin’s has that cool, contemporary feel, much like a Houston’s or Hillstone restaurant, but without the interesting art or any real character. Dark wood and low lighting mean you’ll need to follow your server closely so as not to trip, but better still would be to take a seat at the bar, where sparkling glassware and colorful bottles of good liquor beckon dangerously. This is no dive bar watering hole.
The Food: The best deal on this happy hour menu is also a varsity-level marketing move: Get the bistro burger (normally $15) or the fish and chips (not on the regular menu); each is $14 during happy hour, and served with fries and your choice of craft beer. It’s like a happy meal, for grownups. There's also a $9 section of the menu, including a butcher’s board, smoked salmon, or pork ribs, and a $5 section that includes chicken wings, chicken skewers, smoked salmon lettuce cups, or beef tacos.
We went with the smoked salmon, which came on a plank with three grilled crostini and a side of horseradish cream. From the servers description we thought it would change our life, but all it really did was make us jealous of our neighbor’s fantastic-looking burger.
The Drinks: Happy hour at Paul’s means $5 drafts (normally $8) and wines that range from $5 to $13 for glasses that normally range from $10 to $17 or so. Specialty cocktails are $5 or $9, even though they are all normally $13 each, so do the math and order accordingly. We sat at the bar, so that the distance between us and a good drink would be smaller, and it turned out to be the right thing to do. Bartenders were skilled, friendly, and passionate about their craft, matching the overall restaurant’s enthusiastic approach to good food. Our mojito was great — and a steal at $5 — and the rest of the menu looked like good value for great options.
Conclusion: Paul Martin’s American Grill might be described as “approachably snazzy.” This place is fancy enough for a special occasion with someone you want to impress, but not so snotty that you’ll feel silly asking questions about the menu. We couldn’t give it an A rating because our salmon was less than impressive, but we would totally revisit and snag one of those burgers we mentioned above.
Don’t Miss: The seven-ounce “generous pour” Paul Martin’s proudly offers on all of its wines.
Skip This: Getting anything but the entrée option on the happy hour menu. Go for the gold.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.