Tuesday, January 26, 2010



$3 House Chardonnay, Merlot, House wells, and Beer on Tap:
Moose Drool Brown Ale, Lagunitas IPA, Firestone Double Barrel Ale, Gordon Biersch Pilsner, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale

$5 appetizers
-Shoestring Fries, Chips & Dip, Rings and Things (Calamari), The Big Easy (Prawns), Sliders, St. Louis Ribs, The Choke (Artichokes), Sweet potato fries, Oysters

Sweetwater Hours of Happiness
Monday through Wednesday: 2:00PM to Close
Thursday through Saturday: 2:00PM - 6:00PM.
Two for one "Power Hour" from Midnight - 1:00AM (except Friday)
Friday Night "Power Hour": All drinks buy one get one free 9:00PM - 10:00PM
Sunday Pint Night: $2 beers from 2:00PM to Close

1901 S Street - Sacramento, CA. 95811

My Happy Hour Experience

After a rough day at work, our happy hour group headed to a nearby watering hole around 5:30 on a Wednesday. After ordering one drink, happy hour, which ended at 6 at this particular establishment, was over... Feeling unsatisfied, we decided to drive to Sweetwater. When we walked in, the place seemed somewhat busy, but with so much seating and options on where to sit, it didn't have the overcrowded feel (happy hour prices were extended to the whole restaurant and not just the bar area). We found a spot close to the bar and the waitress was nice to point out the happy hour specials. With every appetizer being priced at $5, we wondered if the shoestring fries (reg. price $4) were now bumped up in price to $5. We didn't ask for a clarification since we planned on trying the other more unique apps. (On a side note - the fries are delicious with pesto and a bit of chili similar to Jack's Urban fries).
For drinks, we settled on getting the Big Sky Moose Drool and the Firestone and for food we decided to split an order of Calamari, normally priced at $8, and the sweet potato fries. While waiting for our drinks and food, we noticed that there was an interactive trivia game on the main tv screen behind the bar. We tried to check out the score of the basketball game on the smaller screen, but it was rather difficult to get a glimpse from our seats next to the window. Even with the variety of seating, the placement of their smaller TV only makes it easy for a few patrons near the bar to enjoy.
Our calamari arrived rather quickly and we were pleasantly surprised by the portion size. The calamari had an excellent texture to it and the fried jalapeƱos scattered throughout was an excellent touch. The chipotle aoli packed great flavor for a dipping sauce, but the perplexing item on the plate was the fried lemon slices. Like all typical calamari dishes, a wedge of lemon is customary, but Sweetwater serves them fried and in thick slices. Were we supposed to eat them? My friend gave it a shot and the end result was much expected - with the rind so thick, it was pretty inedible. We liked the idea, but perhaps frying thinner slices or even just leaving it in typical sliced wedge form would work better. The sweet potato fries were pretty basic, but cooked well and had a nice crunch.


From Monday through Wednesday, Sweetwater with it's all night happy hour should definitely be on your radar. The place may not be the best for watching sporting events, but if you are looking for a spacious spot to hang out with a group, there is plenty of room and the outdoor seating area is a nice place to enjoy some late afternoon libations. If you're into trivia, there's a good chance you can get your fix here. The questions looked pretty intense and interesting, but for me, the last thing I wanted to do after work was to concentrate on screen text. As for drinks, you can't complain about all of the happy hour drinks at $3, especially the stellar selection of draft beer. I will definitely come back, and look forward to trying the Sunday Pint Night.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iron Steaks

$2 Pabst Blue Ribbon (bottle)
$3 Sierra Nevada (bottle) and well drinks
$5 House red and white wine
$6 Margaritas and Cosmos

$2 Sweet Potato Fries
$3 (2)Chicken Tacos, (2) tri tip sliders, chicken wings
$5 Tri Tip Quesadilla
$6 BBQ Pork Sandwich
$8 Ahi Tuna appetizer plate

Iron Steak Hours of Happiness:
Monday through Friday: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

2422 13th St.
Sacramento, CA

My Happy Hour experience

The barstools at Iron Steaks, are probably the most comfortable I've sat on for happy hour in Sacramento (had to get that out of the way first...)
Walking through the entrance, the modern look is inviting. The lighting and lack of windows however, seem a bit too dark....reminiscent of the old Fuji restaurant. If you haven't been to Iron Steaks since the change from Fuji, you'll notice the new bar is almost double the size - which is perfect for an after work drink.

1st Visit (12/15/2009) - Our group of 3 arrived around 5pm on a Friday and we were the only people at the bar (there was an elderly couple eating dinner in the dining room). The bartender was very nice and welcoming. We ordered a gin and tonics,vodka cran, sliders, and chicken wings. The well drinks were poured instantly and were a step above the norm- with Finlandia and Bombay being used as the base for our drinks. The bartender then began muddling a jalapeno in a shaker...I curiously asked what drink he was making. Turns out he was experimenting with a jalapeno martini and provided small samples to each of us.
The food took about 10 minutes to come out and now a few more people had joined us at the bar. Although the chicken wings were mild in spiciness, the tangy/sweet flavor was amazing. They're not traditional hot wings, but I'd have to put them in the top 5 in Sacramento. The pulled pork sliders had a similar flavor with a nice crunchy slaw. We were so intrigued by the reason such a classy looking place would even offer $1 PBR, we had to give it a try.

2nd Visit (4-7-2011)- The first thing I noticed on my most recent trip to Iron Steaks, was the designated free parking lot which had a sign outlining hours including hours of Happiness! No longer the need to look for street parking. We walked into the restaurant at about 5:20 and there were 8 people, which made the place feel pretty crowded. A few feet behind the barstools there was a new couch/table/loungy area, which was not being used. We almost sat there, but it felt too awkward sitting so close behind elevated barstools, so we just sat at the bar.
The menu had changed slightly from the prior visit - the tempura green beans were gone and the pulled pork sliders had been replaced by tri tip sliders and a bbq pulled pork sandwich. The gin and tonic I ordered now was made w/ Seagram's instead of Bombay (still very reasonably priced at $3). We also ordered a couple Sierra Nevadas, the tri tip sliders, wings, and the chicken tacos (new). I had talked up the wings to my co-workers based on my last visit, but when they came out, man, were we all disappointed. The wings seemed smaller than before, not crispy and lacked the sweet/tangy kick that I remembered. The previous unusual flavor was replaced with traditional bbq sauce (definitely fell out of my top 5 in Sac).
The chicken tacos were ok, but basic and dry. The best of the three appetizers we ordered was definitely the tri-tip sliders. The meat was very tender, and the coleslaw was sweet and peppery, complementing the Hawaiian rolls nicely. We ordered the house red wine as our second drink. It was Columbia Crest which was a decent value for $5. As a classy touch, the bartender first poured the wine into a single carafe to help aeration before transferring it to the glass...So fancy!


The happy hour beer selection consists of two bottled beers - Sierra and PBR. The PBR used to be $1, but has since been raised to $2, which doesn't really count as happy hour pricing (you can get $2 PBRs at any time all over Sac). I would like to see more of a happy hour beer selection, even if that means slightly raising prices and using the infamous $1 off all beers technique. Everyone at the bar who had a beer was drinking Sierra, which proved one of two things: Either everyone prefers the semi-local brew(it is pretty delicious...), or that happy hour goers tend to flock to whatever is on the designated happy hour menu. I would bet on the latter. As far as food goes, the sliders have yet to disappoint. I assume the pulled pork sandwich is just a bigger version of the sliders from the 1st visit, so if you're feeling hungry enough for a whole meal, definitely try that. On my next visit, I'll give the tuna plate a try.The service of the bartenders is upbeat and very friendly creating a very comfortable post-work setting. If you're looking for a noisy, crowded bar, where you can really let loose after work, Iron Steaks probably isn't your best bet. It's more geared toward couples or small groups looking to engage in meaningful conversation. If your looking for a classy, laid back happy hour, definitely check this place out!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Lucca Happy Hour Menu


Bottled Domestic - $2.50
Draft Beer (El Toro Amber Ale, Sudwerk Marzan, Trumer Pilsner) - $3
Bottled Import & House Wells and Wine- $3.50
Assorted Specialty Drinks on the Rocks (Spring Thyme, Cucumber Mojito, Pomegranate Margarita) - $4
Assorted Specialty Shaken Drinks (Blue Goose, Jalapeno Martini, etc) - $4.50

$2 - Zucchini Chips, Citrus & Chili Marinated Olives
$2.5 - 1/2 Grilled Artichoke
$3 - Parmesan Fries w/ truffle dip, "sweet bite of the day"
$3.5 - Lucca Chop Salad, Cheese Flat Bread, Steamed Mussels, LDR Beef Meatball w/ Polenta
$4.5 - Spicy Garlic Shrimp
$5 - House Made Ricotta Gnocchi, Lucky Dog Ranch Beef Hamburger

$6 - Grilled Steak Skewers(2)

Location: 1615 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 669-5300

Lucca Hours of Happiness: 3:00PM - 6:00PM (Monday - Friday)
On Thursdays happy hour continues all night!

1st visit (Oct. 2009) - On our first visit, we ordered hummus and flatbread, as well as the smoked almonds and zucchini chips. Lucca's zucchini chips are famous throughout Sacramento and speak for themselves. The flatbread was baked with a topping of shredded mizithra, which was delicious and unexpected. Usually when I order hummus, it comes with wedges of plain pita on the side, which I'm fine with because you top the pita with the hummus... however, Lucca's flatbread was so flavorful, it didn't really even need the hummus. It was also twice as big as we were expecting for $3.

The almonds were flavorful and lighter than the typical Blue Diamond smokehouse flavor, but seemed a bit too oily (the almonds have since been removed from the menu). If we had been more hungry after work, we would have definitely gone with the LDR Burger, which is available for a reduced Happy Hour rate of $5. I've had this burger for lunch, and it is HUGE and delicious. For drinks we ordered the El Toro "Poppy Jasper" Amber Ale and the cucumber mojito. I've never seen the El Toro beer anywhere else in Sacramento, and it was a nice change. It was malty, slightly sweet, and very smooth. The cucumber mojito consisted of your typical muddled mint and lime, but substituted rum with Crop organic cucumber vodka. Sometimes, mojitos can come out syrupy, but in this case, the cucumber added a crisp and refreshing taste which was perfect for an after work cocktail.

2nd visit - We walked in on a Thursday around 6pm and there was absolutely no room at or around the bar! Needless to say, we moved on and vowed to come earlier next time.

3rd visit
(May 2011)- Arrived by 5 this time, and the place was not too busy. My friend and I decided to sit at a table near the bar to mix it up and began ordering. We quickly ordered the zucchini chips as something to snack on right away while we looked over the menu, which looked slightly different. On average, it seemed as if everything in the $2-$4 range increased in price by $1. Although the prices had increased somewhat, the selection was still superb. While snacking on the zucchini chips which came out in about 3 minutes, we decided to go with the Steamed Mussels and the Meatballs with polenta.
For drinks, we were intrigued by the Spring Thyme, a cocktail consisting of vodka, muddled blueberries, thyme, and shaken with lime juice. We also had to get another El toro. The drinks came out relatively fast, but the food was a different story. Although the place was beginning to pick up, we felt the wait time was a bit long. Although there were plenty of servers, it looked like they were too busy preparing for the upcoming dinner rush. When the food did arrive, we dug in and were quite impressed, possibly warranting the somewhat long wait. The Mussels were steamed perfectly and the broth was exceptional. It would have been nice if there was a piece of bread to soak up the delicious broth, but for $3.50, its a great deal. As for the meatballs, we were suprised to just see one huge meatball instead of a few small meatballs, but we found it fun cutting into the behemoth and sharing amongst each other. The polenta and marinara sauce was buttery and cheesy as all good polentas should be. Eaten seperately, the meatball seemed a bit bland, but the yummy polenta quickly covered this small issue.

Lucca is definitely a spot to check out for happy hour. The drink and food selections are plentiful and the food prices ranging from $2 - $6 dollars is practically a steal! The plates are big enough to share with two people with big appetites and the variety really can't be beat. The place can get quite busy so if you're planning on going to Lucca, make sure you get there early, especially if you're going with a big group. If you're planning on drinking beer, I suggest going with the ones on tap as they are an unusual change from the norm. It seems that a lot of effort has gone into designing the specialty drinks, which have quite an exotic flare. The happy hour pricing allows for one to be a bit more adventurous. All in all, Lucca should definitely be on your radar when the hours of happiness is upon you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Burgers and Brew

Burgers and Brew Happy Hour Menu

$3 Draft Pints - Huge Selection! - Stella, Guiness, Paulaner, Hoegarden, Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Arrogant Bastard, Boont Amber Ale, Racer 5 IPA, Guiness 250 ($4 ltd. time)
$12 Pitchers
$5 8oz of Chimay
Good Wine selection - prices vary
$5-$5.50 -Buffalo Wings, Tahini Sliders, Kabobs, Fish or Pepper Jack Quesadillas

Location: 1409 R St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 442-0900

Burgers and Brew Hours of Happiness: 3:00-6:00 PM (Monday-Friday)
Late Night Happy Hour on Friday and Saturday (10pm -1am)


1st visit - I started off with the Guiness 250 Anniversary Stout, just because I had never tried it before. Great choice, I actually enjoyed it more than the original Guiness as it shared the same roasted flavor, but with more carbonation and a smoother finish.We then ordered a pitcher of the Paulaner - which came with some orange slices around the brim of the pitcher. After ordering the pitcher, I realized that there was no real financial incentive for buying a pitcher at happy hour. Breakdown :

Happy hour pint = $3 (16 ounces) or $12 for 4 pints (64 ounces)
Happy hour pitcher = $12 for 64 ounces
Non-happy hour pint = $4 (16 ounces) or $16 for 4 pints (64 ounces)
Non-happy hour pitcher = $14 for 64 ounces

VERDICT - only order pitchers at non-happy hour times - for variety stick to pints at happy hour!

As for food, we just ordered some garlic fries - which were delicious.

2nd visit - We decided to go with the ultra fancy beers this time. The special was 8oz glass of Duvel Green. We ordered two Duvel Greens and one 8 oz Chimay. I was hoping the Duvel would be served in the trademark tulip glass, but it came out in a Chimay glass which was close enough. This was my first time trying Duvel Green, and I was expecting more of a traditional Duvel taste which wasn't overtly apparent to me. I'm used to Duvel (Red) being thick, creamy, lightly sweet, with a head that remains till the last few sips. Duvel Green on the other hand (which has about 2% lower alcohol content), had a thinner mouthfeel, was less fruity/aromatic, and the carbonation was a lot less subtle.

The weather was a little overcast, but not too cool, so we decided to sit outside under the patio heater. This, combined with the strong beer was a perfect way to unwind after work!


Burgers and brew may be one of the only Sacramento happy hour destinations where you can buy a kebaaab for the most beautiful girl...... in the room.
For about $10 per person, you can get two classy beers each and a high quality appetizer (they use Nieman Ranch beef for the sliders and kabobs).
As for a recommendation for Duvel Green---
I prefer the traditional Duvel and would say Duvel Green is much more of a crisp, spicy, summer selection. I would however still highly recommend trying Duvel Green (if it's still available) at Burgers and Brew because it's pretty rare, and may be the perfect beer on someone else's palate. I think it's great that we have a restaurant with such an up to speed draft beer list.

It would be nice to see happy hour prices reflected in wine as well (even $1 off), especially since they have such a high tech wine saver concoction.

A quick shout to my pal Bay Miry, who did a wonderful job revitalizing the old bread factory while preserving most of the old school flavor.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ella Dining Room and Bar

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Ella Happy Hour Menu
No Dedicated Happy Hour Menu
*****Updated 8/19/2010-******

I'm happy to relay the information that Ella is now offering a Happy hour menu as well as 1/2 off signature drinks!!!

DRINKS Real Gin and Tonic - $12
Assorted Specialty Cocktails - $8-$14
Draft Beer - Lagunitas $5, Stella and Allagash $6, Ayinger $7, Duvel and Hitachino Nest $8


Occasional free appetizers

1131 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95814-3904
(916) 443-3772

ELLA Hours of Happiness – No Dedicated Happy Hour - UPDATED FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST!

3-6PM Mon-Fri

My Happy Hour experience:

To celebrate my friends new job, we thought we’d go somewhere fancy after work….Ella is by far the fanciest happy hour I’ve been to, and could very well be the nicest restaurant in Sacramento. We sat down at the beautiful bar and ordered a “real” gin and tonic ($12), as well as a grey goose and tonic ($13). Hands down the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had!!! The only similarity between the gin and tonics I’m used to and Ella’s was the use of the base ingredient…gin. Most places pour gin on the rocks, top it off with Canada Dry tonic water, and garnish with a lime…Not bad, except for the fact that bottled tonic water is usually made of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzonate and quinine. Ella on the other hand, takes carbonated water and combines simple syrup and citrus juices along with quinine bark powder (also known as Cinchona). What a difference! Now although I try to stay away from HFCS whenever possible, my opinion here is entirely based on taste.

The “real” gin and tonic was able to balance sweetness, tartness, and bitterness all while allowing the flowery aromatic characteristics of the gin to shine through, which can easily be masked by overpowering bottled tonic. This was the first time I’ve had Distillery 209 gin and must say – it was as smooth as the Grey Goose and tonic even with the higher alcohol content (92 proof). In fact, I liked the drink so much, I ordered some cinchona for home.

The bill came and turned out to be $30 (with tip)…Although it was expected, I was still taken aback. Were two drinks worth $30? In a weird way…..YES.


Ella is definitely not the type of place that I could visit for happy hour on a regular basis, not only because of the economic impact to my wallet, but also because the atmosphere doesn’t really allow me to loosen up my tie and unwind. For special occasions though, it is perfect. It will definitely leave a lasting impression on whoever you take with you….especially out-of-towners. I’ve heard that they are now offering smaller versions of their “real” gin and tonic for $8. If you try one though, beware, you may never go back to pedestrian gin and tonics again.

This will be the last restaurant without a dedicated happy hour menu for a while....I swear!

*Updated Drink Recommendation - Old Cuban (pictured in the martini glass above) very much resembled a concentrated mojito made w/ prosecco instead of club soda. It was delicious, and only $5 during the August happy hour!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hot Italian

Hot Italian Happy Hour Menu
No Dedicated Happy Hour Menu
$5 – Peroni draft
$4.50 - Racer 5 IPA draft
$5-$10 - Assortment of wines
$8 - Prosecco cocktails
$3 cup or cone of Gellato or Sorbetto
$4 Gellato or Sorbetto sandwich
$10-$15 pizzas
Location: 16th and Q Street
(916) 444-3000

I usually head to places after work with dedicated happy hours...however, in this case I was intrigued by the hype and amount of time this building took to complete, so I decided to create my own hour of happiness. We started with a cantaloupe sorbet ($3) and the Pinot Gris, Napoma ($5) along with a racer 5 ($4.50). The glasses were unusually plain, and it felt like the beer was a bit undersized. The crisp and tart pinot gris complemented the sorbet nicely.

We then moved onto slender glasses of prosecco($7)...Not really my normal happy hour choice, but then again Hot Italian is far from the norm and I felt inclined to try a little bit of everything. I think the best deal would be to order a carafe of Racer 5 IPA for $12. This would work out to around $3 per glass, which is on par with happy hour prices.

There are so many things going on at Hot Italian (pizza, gelato, coffee, beer, wine, scooters, motorcycles, clothing), but somehow it all works. I was blown away by the architecture and style of the place (check out the crazy ceiling fan).
Definitely another one of those places that makes you forget you're in Sacramento. The cafeteria style seating takes getting used to, but after a drink or two, you don't even notice. The intimate outdoor seating is an ideal place to meet up with friends for a makeshift happy hour.

Sorry to stray from the usual happy hour format, but I felt that this place deserved a post!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Celestin's Island Eats

Celestin's Happy Hour Menu

$2 Bud Light Draft
$2.50 Red Stripe Bottles
$2.75 Sierra Nevada Drafts
$3.00 8 o.z. Sangria and Margaritas
$3.50 House Red and White Wines

$2 – Chicken Gumbo (cup), 1/2 order of sweet potato fries
$3 - Croquettes, Cajun Flatbread, Jerk Beef Empanadas, Ham panini on garlic toast

Location: 1815 K Street

Celestin's Hours of Happiness: 4:00-7:00 PM (Tuesday-Friday)
Late Night Happy Hour on Friday and Saturday (9:00-10:00 PM)
5:00-9:30 PM on Sunday

I went to Celestin's after work on a Friday and the place was packed! The three of us found an opening at the corner of the bar. We tightly squeezed in between the bar and the bar tables, clogging up the walking space. Once we got situated we ordered.

Hmmm....$2 for a Bud Light and fifty cents more for a Red Stripe - we decided to break the bank and continue with the Jamaican theme.
We also ordered some sweet potato fries. Although there were ten or so orders placed around the same time, the bartender didn't seem flustered and was actually quite prompt. The fries took about 5 minutes to come out, and when they did, we were a bit disappointed at the measly portion. Since the fries were definitely not enough to share, we also ordered the croquettes. Round 2 of drinks included an 8 oz. glass of sangria and Bud Light. The sangria was light and fruity, wasn't as stong as I'm used to...Not bad, but I prefer the sangria at Aioli's.


Very unique place. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the atmosphere was great. I found the happy hour food and drink portions (8 oz. margaritas/sangria) to be quite skimpy. I would recommend one food order per person in your party, which almost defeats the purpose of ordering food off of the happy hour menu...

Overall, great happy hour spot if you're looking for reasonably priced drinks, but not the best place for grub if you're used to the happy hour portions at Lucca, Ink, or Pyramid. Just to clarify, I'm not knocking the quality of the food, just the portion size. I actually went to Celestin's for lunch a few weeks after I went for happy hour and the gumbo and jambalaya were MAGNIFICENT!