Happy hour has finally sidled up to bar tops across British Columbia. Now it’s time to pull out a stool for its cut-rate comrade in arms, a new drinking buddy called Appy Hour.
Vancouver restaurants did not warm to the concept of cheap snacks quite as quickly as discounted drinks. Profit margins on food are significantly lower than alcohol. But they are slowly coming around with special menus to help soak up those $5 highballs.
Herewith, the Top 10 bargain bites in town.
Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar
As if anyone needed another excuse to visit this sophisticated downtown enoteca helmed by mixologist extraordinaire Lauren Mote. With the longest happy hour in town, stretching from 2 to 6 p.m., afternoon hooky has never tasted so tempting. The new Time Out menu includes $8 cocktails and wine, $5 Birra Menabrea bottles and extensive antipasti (bruschetta, grilled octopus, steamed mussels, crispy polenta among the mix) for $3 to $10.
Happiest Deal: Half a dozen oysters with the tequila-and-sherry shaken Twitch, $14 (regularly $27).
The Irish Heather
Happy hour is a family affair at this convivial Gastown pub where kids eat free from lunch until 7 p.m. (One child per adult.) Toast the new law that allows minors in approved liquor-primary establishments with a $5 Irish coffee or hot whisky, 3 to 6 p.m.
Happiest Deal: Boiled egg and dippy soldiers (for the youngsters) and a pint of Guinness (for you), $5 (regularly $12).
A modern facelift has rejuvenated this enduring West End patriarch (formerly Le Parisien and Café de Paris). Spring into the new casual concept from 4 to 5 p.m. with $4 wine, $8 cocktails and half-price appetizers from a selection of “bistro classics kissed by the colonies.”
Happiest deal: Spicy albacore tuna cone and a glass of house wine, $10.50 (regularly $19.50)
Black + Blue
Get the party started early while catching some rays on Vancouver’s glossiest rooftop patio. As at every other Glowbal Group restaurant excluding Trattoria, this buzzy downtown steakhouse discounts all appetizers by 50 per cent between 3 and 6 p.m., when it also offers a feature list of beer, wine and cocktails for $5.
Happiest deal: Hot rock beef brochettes and a sparkling wine lychee bubble, $13 (regularly $28).
Yaletown’s stylish aburi sushi restaurant offers a beer and gyoza special from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Happiest deal: Jidori chicken and foie gras gyoza with truffle dashi consommé and a pint of Sapporo, $10 (regularly $23).
Double your pleasure with two happy hours at this new West End pizzeria that playfully flouts strict Neapolitan traditions. Lap up the gooey cheese blend on a $12 pizza with a $3 sleeve or $4 wine from 5 to 6 p.m. – then do it again from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Happiest Deal: Bison meatball pie with wine, $16 (regularly $23.50)
At any time of night, the stools squeezed around Shaun Layton’s ever-inventive bar are the most sought-after seats in Gastown. They’ll be filling up even faster now that this haute hipster charmer has launched a lounge-only happy hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. featuring $5 beer, $6 wines, a $6 daily cocktail and half-price appetizers.
Happiest deal: BBQ octopus with fried jalapeno and smoked pepper sauce with cocktail, $14 (regularly $28).
The legendary downtown chophouse has always been packed with jovial crowds and bargain bites during happy hour. It has become even busier with a new menu available from 4 to 6 p.m. that features buck-a-shuck oysters, mini cheeseburgers and $5 drinks (highballs, Molson pints and Peller Estates wines).
Happiest deal: Oysters Rockefeller and a glass of sauvignon blanc, $16.95 (regularly $25, approximately).
Kick back in the East Village with a draft beer and fire-blistered pizza, daily from 5 to 6 p.m.
Happiest deal: The spicy sausage diavola and sleeve of R&B bitter, $18 (regularly $23.50).
Hapa Izakaya, Coal Harbour
Happy hour times and menus vary at Hapa’s four Vancouver locations. Coal Harbour is the longest, running weekdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Pair the chain’s greatest tapas hits with $4 draught beer and $5 wine.
Happiest deal: Ebi mayo tempura prawns with a sleeve of Red Truck lager, $8.49 (regularly $14.99).
Special to The Globe and Mail