Tyler Gross

Brix Tavern
1338 NW Hoyt

If you need more “lively” in your life, Brix Tavern is a great pit stop after work. Slightly rambunctious, and with the possibility of live jazz, Brix complements its already ianviting atmosphere with a lengthy happy hour menu. At only $5 each, their craft cocktails are inventive and unrelentingly fresh; I enjoyed a Brix Mule, which can be made with either vodka or bourbon, plus ginger beer and fresh lime served in a frosty copper mug. It’s refreshing, with a gentle kick on the back end. Most of the food menu ranges between $5 and $9, featuring sturdy faves such as calamari and a personal margherita pizza, but you may as well splurge on the oh-so-fresh Rare Seared Ahi Tuna ($7.95) which, covered with tomato, corn, avocado, and chili vinaigrette, may be the best thing you eat all day—at any price. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Happy Hour: daily 3-6:30 pm, 9:30-close, $1 off wine & beer, $5 cocktails, $2.95-8.95 menu


Cider Bite
1230 NW Hoyt

An enthusiastic cider noob sits next to me at the bar, making inquiries with the bartender who waves off a lot of misconceptions about the beverage—namely, that it’s exclusively for ladies—and notes the benefits: Cider is gluten-free, high in variety, and slightly more alcoholic than your average beer. This refreshing drink isn’t just for women, it’s for winners. And at Cider Bite, the Pearl District’s wondrous hard cider taphouse, there are over 32 to choose from! Don’t worry, you can sample the offerings before you commit; a Chaider (spiced chai cider), for instance, was fun just to try. During happy hour you can take a dollar off pints from 25 of those taps (those $6.50 or less), 50 cents off half pints, and choose from a handful of basic bar snacks. My quesadilla ($6) was pretty standard and sizeable, as was my Caesar salad ($5), but add chicken if you’re extra hungry. The real attraction here is the cider selection, which is separated into two categories: semi-sweet/sweet and semi-dry/dry. I especially loved the semi-dry Sacrilege Sour Cherry, and the semi-sweet Crispin Blackberry Pear. Alternately, if you don’t want to commit to a full pint, just get a flight off happy hour: four tasters for $9 or six for $11. JENNI MOORE

Happy Hour: Tues-Thurs 4-6 pm, $.50-1 off cider, $2-6 menu


Dockside Saloon
2047 NW Front

Dockside Saloon is in a really, really weird location off NW Naito—across from the sad, isolated riverfront condos that are always in some state of industrial handrail construction turmoil. Dockside either once was (or likely still is) the hangout spot for many blue-collar factory worker types, but it wasn’t very busy when I went in. Signature signs of lovable, eccentric bar management are present: saran-wrapped cookies for sale ($1.25), a whole candy jar full of nothing but Doublemint gum, and a bathroom that doesn’t lock (in fact, it’s a saloon-door situation). The thing about Dockside is that, at the end of the day, you get the happy hour clam chowder and when it comes it’s basically four dollars’ worth of soup for $3.95. You order the Caesar salad ($3.95) and it’s a four-dollar salad. The food is fine—probably a step more flavorful than typical bar fare—but there isn’t a “deal” feeling to it. SUZETTE SMITH

Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 4:30-7:30 pm, $3.95 menu


Fat Head’s Brewery
131 NW 13th

This Pearl District brewery is a solid option for good craft beer and perfectly respectable pub food. At happy hour, they’ve got $6.50 cocktails and $5 wine, but, for a buck off the normal price ($5.25-6.50), beer is what you should order. Among the 25-plus beers Fat Head’s brews, I’m particularly fond of their IPAs, including the Tortuga Tri-PA triple IPA. They’ve got food for $5 (chips, fries, salad, potato skins), $6 (onion rings, giant pretzel, chicken fingers, pierogies), $7 (hummus, chicken/spinach/artichoke dip, wings, battered mushrooms, quesadillas), and $8 (pizzas). I got the giant pretzel, which came with two different mustards and a cheese sauce for dipping, and the pierogis—six of them, served with sour cream and sauerkraut. It was way too much food, but I had to finish it all for, you know, journalistic integrity. It’s perfect food for beer drinking. Fat Head’s is in a large, open building with a good amount of seating, but it can get pretty busy: The bar was nearly full around 4 pm when I recently went and about half the tables were occupied. DOUG BROWN

Happy Hour: Sun-Thurs 3-6 pm, 9 pm-close, $1 off beer, $5 wine, $6.50 cocktails, $5-8 menu


The Fireside
801 NW 23rd

Finding bars like Fireside that start happy hour before 4 pm is a very good thing. This is the best way to slip into one’s evening activities already well lubricated. And it’s the path to kicking the weekend off with a spring in your step and a belly full of Mexican Firing Squads ($6), a potent blend of tequila, grenadine, and bitters. Mostly, getting there early means avoiding any waits for food. If my experience is anything to go by, you’ll only have to contend with some aging barflies who would much rather nurse their cocktails than go anywhere near Fireside’s delectable French dip ($7) or their s’mores ($6), which plant thick, chocolate-dusted marshmallows atop some nicely crumbly cookies. I do want to have a talk with them about serving food on small planks of wood instead of plates, but I’m too busy stuffing my face at the moment. ROBERT HAM

Happy Hour: daily 3-5:30 pm, $4 beer, $5 cider, $6 wine & cocktails, $5-7 menu


Mediterranean Exploration Company
333 NW 13th

A member of John Gorham’s Toro Bravo restaurant fam, the Pearl’s Mediterranean Exploration Company is what I would call a fine-ish dining happy hour. There are no dollar PBRs, but the restaurant is still accessible in jeans and a T-shirt. The $7 drinks range from sparkling wines to a delicious Sobieski vodka and Ceylon tea concoction. As far as food goes, a boat of sizzling hot feta ($5) topped with savory spices and olives came with a toasty pita, the fresh radicchio salad ($8) was made for sharing, and the sweet and salty combo of bacon wrapped dates ($1 each) with a crunchy almond in the middle were a crowd favorite. Heavier fare includes sandwiches ($9-10), baked orzo with beef ragu ($9), and Moroccan meatballs ($10), all of which were delivered to tables nearby, inspiring our envy. The menu rounds out with two dessert options—a rosewater panna cotta ($5) or crispy and sweet pistachio baklava ($2 each)—so you can make a full meal out of just the happy hour offerings. BRI BREY

Happy Hour: daily 4-5:30 pm, $3 beer, $7 wine & cocktails, $3-13 menu


RingSide Steakhouse
2165 W Burnside

Despite its imposing reputation, valet parking, and Scrooge McDuck-esque entree prices, you, dear Mercury reader, are actually allowed to go to Ringside Steakhouse. The place with onion rings that cost as much as a normal burger has a happy hour, and it’s totally worth it. The steak bites ($4.75) are, well, bites of steak—delightful little beef poppers that come with a creamy horseradish sauce that I wanted to smear on everything. Their quesadilla ($4.75) is meaty and satisfying, and in general the bar is a shockingly normal place. Ringside’s restaurant might be known for its tuxedoed waiters, but they won’t turn you away if you show up in street clothes. Slight catch: It’s one of those one-drink-per-person-minimum places, and Ringside’s happy hour has zero in the way of drink specials. Draft beers and well drinks are still eight bucks. They gotta get you somewhere. JOE STRECKERT

Happy Hour: Mon-Sat 9:30 pm-close, Sun 4-5:30 pm & 9:30 pm-close, $4-6 menu


Solo Club
2110 NW Raleigh

Besaw’s sister café/cocktail spot the Solo Club sits right next door to the aforementioned 113-year-old restaurant’s new location. Solo Club’s blend of Southeast Asian interior color choices and Spanish European café feel creates a confusing—but not unwelcome (what is this magical land?)—decor experience. You can’t get any substantial happy hour food deals, but Solo Club has a good snack game. The umami popcorn ($2) and the rib tips ($5) were both savory and delicious finger foods. I noticed that the cocktail drinks on the happy hour menu were the same price as they are at any other hour, but ultimately Solo Club won me with over with their sheer beauty and the fact that they played two Pulp songs within a space of 30 minutes. I live there now. SUZETTE SMITH

Happy Hour: daily 3-6 pm & 10 pm-close, $1 off wine, $2-5 menu


St. Jack
1610 NW 23rd

There is not a single element of French eatery St. Jack that’s fucking around, and that goes for their exquisite happy hour, too. The menu changes regularly, but a recent visit evidenced some fantastic options. The fried chicken sandwich ($6), with pickles and sauce Grenobloise (lemons and capers), was a home run, as was the compact Tourtiere hand pie ($5), a phenomenal assemblage of the tastiest leftovers imaginable—in this case, pork, veal, leek, cabbage, and piccalilli. We were less blown away by the tablier de sapeur (that’s fried tripe to you; $5), but all was made well by the chicken liver mousse ($6), a creamy bulb of soft loveliness to smear all over pieces of crusty baguette. The discounted cocktail list ($9) was a mere three drinks long—the Silver Spurs, made with cognac and Lillet Rouge, was the winner—but they’re supplemented by a handful of beer, wine, and sparkling options. Even if you’re thriftily reading the menu from right to left, it’s hard not to feel pampered at St. Jack’s, no matter where your price point is. NED LANNAMANN

Happy Hour: daily 4-6 pm & 10 pm-close, $4 beer, $5-7 wine, $8-9 cocktails, $3-12 menu


The Waiting Room
2327 NW Kearney

This still-fresh spot from chefs Kyle Rourke and Thomas Dunklin has so much going for it. Their happy hour fare, which, like the regular menu, is a mildly modernized take on Southern cooking, is filled with delights. Days later and I’m still dreaming of their cornmeal fried pickles ($4), and, while not as memorable, I was still charmed by their take on poutine ($13) that slathers a nice coating of truffle-port au jus and confit bacon over a helping of curly fries. I also can’t say enough nice things about their tart and bracing sazerac ($7), which is on tap at the bar. They’d do well, however, to ease up on the rustic chic vibe they’re aiming for—as when they serve the side dishes in tiny cast-iron skillets, or tuck the check inside a paperback copy of Mignon G. Eberhart’s novel The Bayou Road. ROBERT HAM

Happy Hour: Tues-Fri 4-6 pm, $2-3 beer, $6-8 wine $6-11 cocktails, $1.50-$13 menu