The Spot: Salut Kitchen Bar
1435 East University Drive, Tempe
The Hours: Happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Perfect for: Trendy cocktails and discount bottles of wine on a breezy, dog-friendly patio.
The Interior: Salut has a massive covered patio and a trendy interior as well. We loved the wood paneling on the walls, vintage-looking light bulbs, and greenery snaking around the patio's fence. The cushioned wooden booths outside were also surprisingly comfy, tempting us to stay for hours.
The Food: During happy hour, Salut takes $2 off tapas, which ranges from fresher options like caprese salad ($6) and quinoa fritters ($7.50) to heavier stuff like crispy mac-and-cheese bites ($7) and ricotta ravioli ($7). The hummus nachos ($7.50) fall somewhere deliciously in between that range, with a crisp, sweet taste. The scoop of hummus that came on top of crispy pita chips was creamy, with a slight tang from a balsamic drizzle. Bits of red onion made for a nice added crunch. With just one bite, we became hummus nacho converts, although we do think $7.50 is a little high for happy-hour tapas.
The quinoa fritters were crispy on the outside and springy on the inside, topped with delicate slivers of crimini mushrooms and a roasted red-bell-pepper sauce. These meatball-like fritters needed just a little more sauce, but had a great texture. We still thought the happy-hour price point — $7.50 — was a bit steep.
We couldn't resist the idea of s'mores for happy hour ($10), which you roast yourself over a mini faux-campfire at Salut. The s'mores tasted like the classic summer treat, coming on a big platter with plenty of graham crackers and milk chocolate. We were happy Salut went for a classic s'mores presentation rather than attempting a trendy twist.
The Drink: One of the best things about Salut's happy hour is that it doesn't fall victim to a classic happy-hour pitfall: leaving craft cocktails off the menu. There are options for everyone, including 50 percent off bottles of wine and $2 off craft cocktails, house wine, and craft beer. Salut definitely has a strong wine list, with a nice mix of reds and whites like an Italian Ruby Donna moscato and a Simple Life pinot noir from California. The beer list isn't extraordinary, but offers some local choices from Papago, San Tan, and Four Peaks.
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For $11, we had high expectations for the menu's lavender lemon fizz, which is a mix of gin, lemon juice, lavender syrup, and dry lemon soda. The drink was citrus-y and refreshing, perfect for a warm day on the patio. The drink, in a glass re-purposed from a Bombay Sapphire Gin bottle, took us a while to finish, due to a generous pour.
Conclusion: Salut brings one of the strongest happy hours we've been to in Tempe, with an impressive wine list, delicious cocktails, and hearty tapas. We were a little turned off by the prices, but most of the items we tried were well worth the few extra bucks.
Don't Miss: The s'mores. In fact, we never miss a chance to feel like a kid at camp while sipping cocktails on a gorgeous patio.
Skip This: The quinoa fritters, which tasted just fine but weren't worth $7.50.