The Spot: The Handlebar and Grill, 680 South Mill Avenue Tempe, 480-474-4888, www.handlebaraz.com.
The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
The Interior: Handlebar has all the best parts of European-style beer gardens. It's open, with a large sliding glass garage door in the back and cutaway bar nooks on the southern part of the patio. The large classy picnic table benches encourage communal seating so you can mingle with your neighbors. Plus, having opened only a few months ago, everything is new and clean, but we have one big problem.
Handlebar was supposed to be this big bike bar and the biking side of it has been almost completely overlooked. We had to ask what was so bike-friendly about the place, and were pointed to the large hooks at the outset of the patio meant to hang bikes on. It's pretty much the same predicament as the light rail: Is everyone willing/able to lift their bicycles above their head to hang it on racks? No. Not to mention, Boulders on Broadway is about a mile away and offers indoor bike parking.
The Food: While Handlebar offers burgers, sausages and fries all regularly priced around or under $10, none of their food has happy hour pricing. Their Handlebar Burger is descent, but not really anything special. If burgers and fries are your thing, you better do it pretty damn good or we're liable to go to In-N-Out instead (and for about $5 less).
I was also assured that Handlebar is currently in the middle of a menu overhaul to include some healthier options (i.e. salads and sweet potato fries) so maybe some of that might be included in happy hour pricing--but we wouldn't bet on it.
The Drink: Handlebar's beer selection is where they excel. With tons of craft beer on tap and in bottles, it's definitely a beer drinker's bar. Not to mention that they carry one of our favorite Trappist monk brewed beers: Orval. All beers and wine are half off during happy hour, which is a pretty good deal when you consider the quality of some of these brewskis. There's also allegedly a secret beer list full of yummy seasonal beers, but we didn't hear about that until after we got our tab.
While that was a bummer, the biggest bummer was that none of their beer cocktails have happy hour pricing either. We've had micheladas and beer mimosas, but some of these cocktails looked really unique and fun--too bad us cheap-o's can't save a buck or two on them.
The Conclusion:The ambience and beer are great. But that's pretty much it. This place could be so much more, but needs to get off it's high horse a bit and be somewhere us normal folk can drink on the reg. If all you're looking to do during happy hour is beer snob out and chill on the not yet insane Mill Avenue, totally go. If you're hungry or looking for something cheaper or boozier to drink, go elsewhere.
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