Spoke & Wheel in Sunnyslope: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Spoke & Wheel 8525 North Central Avenue 602-870-8860 www.spokeandwheeltavern.com

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The Hours: Happy hour is offered daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Interior: It's always a good sign for our love of lounging when a restaurant is primarily booth seating. Not tacky, diner-style booths, but large, plush, newly-upholstered booths with ample seating. Everything looks all right inside, definitely not upscale, but a good, cozy spot for some afternoon drinking. The bike love comes through in name, décor, and pricing, because for cyclists, happy hour is offered all day if you choose to ride to the restaurant, which will be a totally viable option -- in about two more months.

The Food: We haven't heard the best reviews for the new bike concept tavern from the makers of Timo and Brick. Granted, the happy hour food menu is a little limited, but the prices are right. With fried calamari and even mussels available on the cheap, it seems like Spoke & Wheel is at least ambitious. We kept it simple, though, starting with the chips and guacamole ($4). Both were alright, neither seemed particularly fresh, though the chips were nice and warm.

Next on the menu, we tried the Sonoran hot dog, which was a very basic, albeit highly-Americanized take on the Mexican classic. The bacon was nice and crispy and the whole ensemble was very filling, but the bun was just not the bolillo we were looking for. Not everything was mediocre for our happy hour dollar, though -- the thin-cut Parmesan garlic fries on the side of our hot dog were delicious. (But it's pretty hard to mess up fries covered in garlic and cheese.)

The Drink: This is definitely where Spoke & Wheel shines. After sampling two "kraft" cocktails, including the sweet, refreshing Tavern Paloma and the more herbal Brakedancer with vanilla rooibos syrup. Best of all, both drinks were only $5. The house white sangria is also $5 during happy hour, but it's a little too Welch's grape juice and not enough wino for our liking. The modest, but varied draft selection will likely have something you'll drink, and pitchers are, you guessed it, $5.

The Conclusion: While the food at Spoke & Wheel is a little too Americanized for a clientele who lives in a sea of delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine, the "kraft" cocktails and pitchers of beer for $5 might just make it worth the bike ride to Sunnyslope. Plus, if we get hungry, we can just order a couple sides of those yummy Parmesan garlic fries.

Grade: B-

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