Number One: Bernie's Southern BistroExceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, SERVICE, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. We especially love the enclosed patio and that they will accommodate large groups. The spinach cakes pictured below aren't on the happy hour menu but are well-priced and available as an appetizer no matter what time of day you are there. We hope that our favorite cocktail, the Carolina Lemon Cooler, will soon be back on their drink menu. Until then, we've had pretty good luck making special requests. Hopefully you will too.
Number Two: Tapalaya
Exceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, SERVICE, and VALUE. The three dollar hurricanes are an absolute must. The rest of the menu is served small-plate style, making it easy to try many different flavors without spending too much money (or getting too full). Save room for dessert! You'll be glad you did.
Number Three: Davis Street TavernExceeds in FOOD and VALUE. Their macaroni and cheese is one of our all time favorites. It's so creamy and delicious that you have to set the fork down in between bites. This is also a great place for large parties. There's a lot more to the restaurant than what you see when you first walk in.
Number Four: PambicheExceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. Be sure to get there when happy hour starts as it can become very crowded very quickly. You'll have a better chance of avoiding a wait if you are there when the patio is open. Even on a cooler day, it'll be worth it. The signature sugar cane sticks served with their cocktails (and pictured below) make it one of our favorites.
Number Five: Tin Shed Garden CafeExceeds in FOOD and SERVICE. Their outdoor seating is available all year long but doubles in size when the sun's out. It's a great place to relax and catch up with friends. This place is also a must for brunch. The Tin Shed is one of those places that almost has too many good options listed on the menu...making it hard to decide what to order. We suggest you go back again and again to try it all.
Number Six: Mama Mia TrattoriaExceeds in FOOD and VALUE. Happy Hour at Mama Mia is always enough to count as a full meal. Their portions are huge and the flavors are exceptional. The lasagna recipe changes daily and the zucchini sticks are made fresh.
Number Seven: Doug FirExceeds in AMBIANCE and VALUE. We especially love the outdoor seating. Even when the temperature drops, the fire pit will keep you warm. Really, this place has it all. You can start with happy hour, stay for dinner, and then enjoy a live show. And if you're there too late, there's a hotel attached. It's perfect.
Number Eight: Southland Whiskey KitchenExceeds in AMBIANCE and VALUE. This place hasn't been around long but they know what they're doing. It's perfect for meat eaters, but can still please a vegetarian.
Number Nine: Red StarExceeds in SERVICE, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. Their location is perfect for catching a quick bite before heading to a movie at Pioneer Place. And the portions are huge, making it an easy dinner fix.
Number Ten: Tasting EastExceeds in DRINKS and SERVICE. Their cauliflower is to die for and the specialty cocktail of the day makes us want to go back again and again.
We can't say for sure how long these ten will stay put at the top of our list. It's only the start of summer break and we've got a long list of Happy Hours to try. Feel free to make suggestions of where we should go next. It's hard keeping up around here.