Find your perfect summer happy hour

Posted: August 02, 2013

What's the best way to end a long workday? Small bites at a fair price. Good company. And, of course, a cocktail.

And the best place to get all three? Happy hour.

What follows are some road-tested recommendations for good deals at fun post-work hangouts that will surely cure any case of the stuck-in-the-city-in-the-summer blues.

For good, inexpensive small plates and groups who can't decide between a party atmosphere or a professional setting, check out Sampan - where you can get a little of both, plus an extensive menu of $2 to $4 small bites. Like the tasty, tiny Kobe slider. Or the addictive crispy brussels sprouts, cooked with fish sauce and chili. Or a refreshing "bartender's choice" cocktail like a blueberry yuzu martini, as well as discounted beers. There's the Graffiti Bar in the back for bumping music.

If you are looking for more of a serene, romantic setting, or a relaxing environment with friendly, knowledgeable staff, there's Tria Cafe for an after-work glass of vino. The happy hour deal includes $5 wines, $5 cheese plate, and $5 beers. And on a nice day, the breeze at a bar table by the open doors is lovely.

For a slightly different take on serenity, there's a place where vegans converse and dine with omnivores who are not afraid to go meatless once in a while. That's Vedge. Drink $3 to $6 daily cocktails, like the White Currant Southside made with gin. Or the pomegranate sangria. Or sample from the well-curated wine and beer list. Savor the $4 small plates (all vegan, but you'd never know by their richness) such as the seitan tacos, which are spicy and meaty, without any meat at all. Or choose from the dirt list, where chef Rich Landau turns ordinary veggies into decadent delights like baby white cucumbers with truffle and nigella seed. The friendly staff and clientele are a plus. Get there early or you'll never get a seat.

You'll find vegan-friendly menus in all corners of the city these days, including Loco Pez, a popular choice for a hipster's happy hour in, of course, Fishtown. You'll find extensive vegan and vegetarian options as well as plenty of meaty choices like the chorizo and potato tacos. Enjoy music from the Shins and Vampire Weekend while munching on a plate of nachos. Follow them @locopeztacos on Twitter to get the heads-up for dollar taco nights (the fish tacos won't disappoint). Note: It's cash only.

And don't miss out on the vibrant buck-a-shuck happy hour and the $3 shooters at the Oyster House on Sansom Street. Get there early for seat security, but don't be afraid to stay past 7 - the party goes on!

Also, check out Fare on Fairmount Avenue for "farely" priced organic cocktails, like the "Water of Life" with pineapple-infused rum, coconut water, and Thai basil. Share a tasty flatbread at the bar: The Farmhouse, with bacon and Granny Smith apples, is both sweet and savory, a yummy combo with sharp Vermont cheddar.

The South Jersey crowd who don't want to make the trip into the city after a long day in the office can enjoy the company at the Chophouse in Gibbsboro, with its new patio overlooking the lake and $7 appetizers, wines, and cocktails. Try the salmon nachos - think salmon tartare over crispy tortilla chips - and the filet Kona tips for a decadent midweek deal.

In the Pennsylvania burbs, have an early evening drink and appetizer in the bar area at 333 Belrose, in Radnor, with the company of Polo-wearing, Sperry-stepping Main Liners. Try dishes from the classic bar menu - half-price after 5 p.m. - and sip on a choice of draft beers or a selection of wines. The loaded nachos with pulled pork are a munchable Tex-Mex combination not to be missed, with sweet barbecue pulled pork, pico de gallo, jalapeno, and plenty of cheese and beans.

Enjoy all of the tasty treats and delicious drinks the region has to offer after a long day at the office. Because it's not called happy hour for nothing.


Get Your Happy On

Tria Cafe (Washington Square West)

1137 Spruce St.; 215-629-9200.

Happy hour: Monday to Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $5 wine (select red and white), $5 beers (choice of 2), $5 cheese plate.

Sampan

124 S. 13th St.; 215-732-3501.

Happy hour: Every day, 4 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $2 to $4 small plates, $4 bartender's choice cocktail, $4 seasonal beer and wine, $1 off cocktails.

Vedge

1221 Locust St.; 215-320-7500.

Happy hour: Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $3 to $6 daily/seasonal cocktails, wines, beers; $4 select small plates.

Oyster House

1516 Sansom St.; 215-567-7683.

Happy hour: Monday to Friday 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 to 11 p.m.

Deals: $1 oyster/clam, $3 shooter, $3 draft, $5 cocktail.

Loco Pez

2401 E. Norris St.; 267-886-8061.

Happy hour: Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.

Deals: $4 margarita, $4 nachos, $1 tacos on select days.

Fare

2028 Fairmount Ave., 267-639-3063.

Happy hour: Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $4 wine, $3 select beer, $6 cocktails, discounted bar menu.

The Chophouse

4 Lakeview Drive South, Gibbsboro; 856-566-7300.

Happy Hour: Monday to Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $7 house martinis, select appetizers, wines.

333 Belrose

333 Belrose Lane, Radnor; 610-293-1000.

Happy hour: Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 p.m.

Deals: $2 select beers, $4 select wine, $4 well drinks, half-price appetizers.


Contact Michelle Dembo at mdembo@phillynews.com or 215-854-4214.

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