Best Big D Happy Hours

March 31, 2010  

posted by Laura Ratliff

Happy hours aren’t just for drinks anymore.

In Dallas, a city with more restaurants per capita than New York City, happy hours with impressive food menus have been popping up all over the city. Not sure where to go? I’ve compiled my top three picks – all restaurants that offer not only cheap drinks, but a chance to sample some delectable food for a fraction of the regular menu price.

Whether your preference is sushi or a burger, these picks all offer a varied menu and generous pours at prices that will keep even a college student’s wallet happy.

Kona Grill, located in NorthPark Center, has been considered a happy hour favorite since its conception. In addition to the “regular” happy hour which runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, Kona is also famous for its “reverse happy hour,” which runs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and from 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Deeply discounted drinks are only half of the draw for Kona’s faithful happy hour crowd. Where else can you get $3 spicy tuna sushi rolls and $5 calamari? Of course, that’s just a fraction of Kona’s impressive happy hour menu. If you’re not a sushi fan, $5.50 pizzas and a $4.50 ultimate fudge brownie should be enough to get you through the door.

One crucial tip: get there early. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, I was unable to find a table – even the bar area was packed. If you’re particularly lucky, you can enjoy the sunshine at a table on their patio.

While you’re at NorthPark, popular seafood restaurant McCormick & Schmick’s also offers a generous happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday. If those times don’t work for you, give them a try on Sunday, when happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. What’s the food like, you ask? In addition to some of the most intensely garlic-flavored hummus I’ve ever had, you can also score a half-pound cheeseburger, complete with french fries, for $2.95. The lump crab nachos for $4.95 were also a standout – crispy tortilla chips piled high with a spicy black bean salsa and plenty of fresh crab meat. Unfortunately, drink prices are the only downside to McCormick & Schmick’s otherwise lavish happy hour. The cheapest drinks on the menu are $3.95 and consist of Zeigen Bock beer and a Teeny Lemon Tini. They aren’t exaggerating when they say “teeny” – the drink is miniscule. If you want to spend a bit more, $4.95 can get you a glass of their house-made sangria or a LaTerre chardonnay. Apple-Tinis are also $4.95, for a much more generous pour than the Teeny Lemon Tini.

My favorite happy hour is hosted by a relative newcomer. Lumi Empanada and Dumpling Kitchen, located at 3407 McKinney Ave., may not yet be a fixture of the Dallas dining scene, but I predict it soon will be. Luckily for Lumi, its regular menu is priced so affordably that it is a frequent haunt of mine, regardless of the time. If I happen to stop in during happy hour, which is held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday, I can’t resist the jalapeno and pineapple margarita. Normally priced at $8, the $4 happy hour price tag is much easier on the wallet. The Royal Tea – a mixture of Crown Royal and green tea – is another definite winner. The food menu is tapas-inspired and consists of several different dishes, all for $4. For that price, you might as well order one of everything! However, if you’re not feeling gluttonous the Thai panang curry chicken dumplings and the Ba Noi egg rolls can’t be missed.

Out of my top three, Lumi is also simply the most comfortable. The restaurant is housed in a converted old house and the open, modern feel of the space is nothing short of inviting. The only down side: parking can be a pain. Lumi does have a very small parking lot located off of Hall Street, but if you drive anything bigger than a Mini, be prepared to execute a 10-point turn to get in and out.

While these three are my top picks, an honorable mention is awarded to Steel, located at 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. The swanky restaurant, which serves what it calls Indochine cuisine, hosts Wednesday happy hours from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. that have garnered quite a following. Sip on a Mangotini and nosh on some complimentary sushi – some of the best in the city.

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