The Spot: Trader Vic's, 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, (480) 421-7799 http://www.hotelvalleyho.com/scottsdalerestaurants/tradervics.html
The Hours: Every day of the week from 4 to 6 pm and again from 9 to 11 pm.
The Details: Retro-priced apps ranging from $1 (roasted garlic hummus, edamame) to $3 (a variety of surf and turf tidbits). $6 signature cocktails like Mai Tais and $3 draft beer. $5 wells on the weekend and $5 glasses of wine on Sunday only.
(the happy hour break down after the jump)
The Interior: Trader Vic's has got the swanky island groove down pat. The lounge area is decorated with an abundance of dark wood, bamboo blinds, and colorful tropical flowers. Seating consists of several high-top tables for two, comfy rattan chairs surrounding low-rider tables for four, and of course seating at the tiki bar where you can watch the mixologists at work. If you're willing to brave the heat, the patio is also a suave alternative with a sandy beach vibe. There are of course plenty of tiki-themed decorations, but it all manages to stay on the side of classy instead of slipping into tchotchke territory.
The Cost: Two appetizers, a fancy cocktail and a beer for 15 bucks.
The Conclusion: Trader Vic's happy hour strengths definitely lie in the variety of nibbles offered for what they boast as a roll back to "1950's pricing." Debatable considering the wicked rate of inflation, but still a killer deal any way you cut it.
Out of the ten different appetizer options, some of the deals are much more generous than others. Leading the pack is the 6 oz. Chinese Oven Roasted Maui Burger (beef, not fish--don't be tricked!) topped with bok choy slaw and a spicy remoulade. A generous helping of some of the tastiest crinkle-cut sweet potato fries round out this awesome three dollar meal substitute. The burger does tend to be on the well-done side, and they don't seem to be able to accommodate special cooking requests, but at $3 it's still a deal.
The Chinese Oven Roasted Spare Ribs and Crispy Calamari with wasabi aioli are also a pretty good bang for your buck. The spare ribs were a generous helping of fall-off-the-bone tender, sweet and smoky Chinese barbeque, while the tender fried calamari with a spritz of lemon were fresh with the wasabi aioli lending a creamy, spicy kick.
Unfortunately, it's the boozy bevies that drag this happy hour down a bit. A total of 14 fancy tropical libations are available for six bucks a pop, but seemed heavy handed with the crushed ice at times. Six bucks also isn't exactly cheap for happy hour pricing, but considering the fact that you're sipping these in the home of the Mai Tai makes it worth it. Beers on tap were limited to two options and there were no deals on well beverages or wines by the glass during regular happy hour, which was kind of a bummer.
All things considered, Trader Vic's is a pretty solid happy hour choice. (Especially if you're looking to impress a date with a classy happy hour on the cheap!) It's a great opportunity to try some tasty small plate appetizers for killer prices, and booze it up with some of the island's best rum-fueled cocktails in a swank tiki atmosphere.
Overall Grade: B
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