After [work] hours

The scoop on eats and quaffing during the happiest time of the day

L Wine Lounge has $10 flights on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.

L Wine Lounge has $10 flights on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.

Photo By Anne Stokes

After a hard day of closing the Peterson account, there’s nothing I like more than loosening my bun, slipping off my Control Top pantyhose (taupe, of course) and heading out to a Midtown watering hole to mix and get schnockered with other young urban professionals (that’s a mouthful, if only there was an acronym). Here’s the lowdown on what’s out there:

1415 L Street, (916) 440-8888,
Happy hour: Monday through Friday, 3-6:30 p.m.

This is where the elite meet for H-Hour (e.g., the suit in the corner, loosening his tie, “I’m here to get hammered!”). The food during Spataro’s happy hour is divine and cheap. Their version of bruschetta has pillowy mounds of fresh ricotta, laced with chopped basil and olive oil, and topped with lovely cherry tomatoes ($4). It’s wonderful, as are their other offerings.

Dragonfly Restaurant
1809 Capitol Avenue, (916) 498-9200,
Happy hour: Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m.

The Rodney Dangerfield of Capitol Avenue, Dragonfly is like the poor man’s Zócalo: It gets no respect. This evening, place isn’t very busy at happy hour, save a couple of hotties who cruise in and cruise right back out. They offer the standard terrible wines (Bogle chard, anyone?), and the better option is their eight sakes by the glass—even though it’s unappetizing to sip sake out of stemware. I should have gotten the draft Sapporo for three bucks. Their discount veggie roll is a delicious and healthy option.

1806 Capitol Avenue, (916) 447-8646,
Happy hour: Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m.

This is where the aforementioned hotties cruise to, and indeed Paesanos is a livelier scene at H-Hour. Most of the food options are fried, and the featured wine was Scribner Bend chard (shudder), so I go for a New Belgium Skinny Dip on draft and the bruschetta. The service is wonderful and the Skinny Dip was tasty, but my bruschetta was thoroughly wet with tomato juice. Nobody likes wet bread.

Celestin’s Restaurant and Voodoo Lounge
1815 K Street, (916) 444-2423,
Happy hour: Tuesday through Friday, 4-7 p.m., and Sunday, 5-9 p.m.; Last Call happy hour: Friday and Saturday, 9-10 p.m.

This place has been around since 1983 and it feels like a time warp back to that era, including the prices. Two bucks for a cup of chicken gumbo (decent), two bucks for sweet potato fries (dry and throat-stabby) and $2.50 for a bottle of Red Stripe (irie). The music is a skillful mix of old ska, new dancehall and Latin pop. This place is Sac as hell.

Mason’s Restaurant
1116 15th Street, (916) 492-1960,
Happy hour: Monday through Friday, 4-7 p.m.

Sure, they have the fancy cognacs and vodkas for the fat cats on expense accounts, but they have no aperitifs, the beer offerings are an insult (Bud and Miller for three bucks), and the house white wine of the day ($5) was a sauvignon blanc that started out citrusy but quickly emerged as acrid and alcohol-hot. Their food offerings run the gamut, from retro-Asian schlock shipped over from Ma Jong’s to Moroccan spiced chickpeas ($4) that were warm and addictive. They also have a $3 happy-hour appetizer menu.

L Wine Bar
1801 L Street No. 50, (916) 443-6970,
Happy Hour: Tuesday through Saturday from 4-6 p.m.; “Wine on Wednesdays” from 6-8 p.m.

L has the best bar in Midtown. On this evening, the accommodating bartender sees the excitement in my eyes when I spy their row of aperitifs, and they make a fascinating cocktail with bright green, herbal Chartreuse liqueur. L has two great craft beers on draft, too. Their happy hour food offerings are limited to teeny tartines: pretty opened-faced sandwiches with seasonal toppings, for five bucks. On Wednesdays they have a deal in which you can taste five wines and snack on shared plates for $10.