Columns, Food & Drink

The Happy Hours of Mac-Groveland

For all you folks eager for some deals on food and drank in the area, it’s time to listen up. This is your comprehensive critical analysis of all the local Happy Hours. Don’t drink? That’s fine! All of the below establishments have yummy food deals too.

Neighborhood Cafe, 1570 Selby Ave

3 p.m.-6 p.m., $2 Pints. Apps under $4.

THE DRANK: Price-wise, Neighborhood Cafe’s Happy Hour reigns supreme. The comfy diner hosts a revolving list of five beers and a cider for $2. They prefer to stay local in terms of their brew choices. Neighborhood usually has a good selection of Surly, Indeed and Lift Bridge. Lately, they have featured some tasty autumnal brews such as Bell’s Brown Ale from Kalamazoo, Michigan and Minneapolis’ Indeed Brewing’s “Sweet Yamma Jamma,” a sweet potato beer that has a select group of imbibers salivating for the commencement of falling leaves. The brew just screams fall and I enjoy the seasonal approach. There is something very homey about walking into a place called Neighborhood Cafe, where the Happy Hour staff remains consistent and you can sip on drank that tastes like a season. For food, the options are not quite as plentiful, but the quality is high.

THE FOOD: Parmesean Dusted Fries, cooked to a nice crispiness with adequate seasoning, are a must. However, it’s the lime aoli sauce that really stands out. The pretzel breadsticks are also a good option for appetizers because of the rich and creamy gouda and cheddar cheese sauce for dipping. It also usually comes with celery and carrots on the side if you are veggie inclined. In addition to some of the Happy Hour deals, “Burger Tuesday” is a perk. Every Tuesday, you can order a large cheeseburger and a mound of fries for $5. You can’t go wrong with Neighborhood Cafe.

Blue Door Pub, 1811 Selby Ave

2-5 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12 a.m. $2 pints for first happy hour, $3 for second. Most apps under $4.

The good people at BDP know how to do it right. They have TWO Happy Hours every day. The afternoon happy hour does not serve food, but the later one does (and lots of it).

THE DRANK: Compared to Neighborhood, Blue Door’s vibe is closer to your classic bar, so they have more beer on tap (usually between six and nine) beers at any time. The restaurant just isn’t too big, so at times fighting for space is an issue. Similarly to Neighborhood Cafe they always have some locals brews, but they also overhaul their list regularly. Some weeks they will feature an entire brewery. They did this with Lagunitas Brewing over the summer and they are now doing it with Indeed. For all of you with less adventurous tastes, you can also down a good ol’ Hamm’s on tap here, something you would never find at Neighborhood. Something to note: not every beer or cider on the list is necessarily part of Happy Hour, so make sure you check beforehand. The wait staff is generally very accommodating despite the crowds.

THE FOOD: The key here is understanding that Blue Door Happy Hour snacks are not taken lightly. They arrive in heaps. The beer-battered string beans and fried pickles are my personal favorite ($3.50). The fries and tater tots ($2) are great choices as well. You can order french fries in a cajun seasoning and the tots cajun-style or with a sweet-chili lime glaze. The chicken wings ($5.50) are next on the try list. This all being said, if you choose only one, the fried pickles are the best option because of their acidity. This will not the last time BDP comes up in this section. Stay tuned.

The Groveland Tap, 1834 St. Clair Ave.

Most appetizers are half off. Summit beers are $2 and select other beers and ciders are $3 or $4.

THE DRANK: Of the three places, I have the least experience with The Tap. However, I should probably become acquainted with it because they have the largest and most diverse beer selection in the Mac-Groveland happy hours. They have so many drink options that they actually separate their beers by style on their website. Similarly to Neighborhood Cafe, they are intentional about seasonal options, with seven currently on tap.

THE FOOD: Their food is solid and all of the appetizers’ (except the Pub Board) prices are sliced in half for Happy Hour. BDP and Neighborhood Cafe are both places where I would order non-happy hour food. I would not do this at The Tap. Of the appetizers that I have tried, the Parmesan Garlic fries are a great option. These may not be the most intriguing option, but you can never go wrong with garlic and fried potatoes. Unfortunately, the cheese curds are very salty and are a definite no-no especially when BDP has much better ones for a similar price. The poutine also looks intriguing despite the fact that I have never tried it. I like cheese, potatoes and meat so poutine is a good thing. Compared to the other options which are north of campus, the Tap draws from a larger pool of people in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood such as families with kids, UST students and an older crowd. If you have yet to try any of these places out, I suggest you give them a shot. If you are regulars, then keep supporting local business!

October 3, 2014

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