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The Happy Hour

[whitespace] Rosie McCann
George Sakkestad

Hour House: Rosie McCann's offers tasty happy-hour deals and treats, plus live music on weekends.

Forget the search for the holy grail--this is the quest for cheap food

IT WAS 3PM, and my tummy was rumbling. Knowing all day that the task of searching out the ultimate happy hour would soon be at hand, I kept food at arm's length. I had to be good and ready.

Everyone always hears about how in big cities, one never needs to grocery shop; one can almost live on happy hours, art openings and the like. While this may not New York City, we here at Metro Santa Cruz aimed to find enough cheap (or--dare to dream--free!) happy-hour eats to do our fair city justice. Enlisting the aid of a co-worker and a loyal, hungry and equally cheap designated driver, we were off.

We knew, of course, that our list of happy-hour options was practically endless. Bar owners are a smart lot, and most know that the happy hour is a great patron draw. One of the best-sounding I argued for was Bittersweet Bistro's Bistro Hours, where wood-fired pizzettas come half price and elegant drinks are discounted. "Ixnay," replied my compatriots. The Aptos restaurant, however tempting, is too far from our downtown focus.

So we began at El Palomar, where we could have stayed all afternoon and had our fill. With our discounted pitcher o' blended margaritas, we were plied with the usual chips and salsa, plus (here comes the free stuff) complimentary nachos and quesadillas, all gooey and cheesy.

(As a rule, Mexican restaurants are inherently one of the best spots for free eats--as long as one buys something, the chips flow.)

We'd heard rumors of free appetizers at Rosie McCann's around 4pm, so we headed up. Beer came cheap, and we gobbled up finger-food goodies like wild women.

Already slowing down (both the food and the alcohol were quickly taking their toll), we soldiered on. The wharf, we decided, would be a fine destination, if for nothing else but the cheap drinks. Oh, and did we find plenty. Practically every spot has margaritas in the $1 range (yes, $1), and the munchies are well priced, minus those oysters on the half shell we felt that we really, really needed. (The bars of Capitola's Esplanade offer similar happy-hour offerings.)

Two margaritas and three hours later, happy hour and our team were winding down. We spent little money (around $10 a person for way too much food and drink), and all we wanted to do now was nap. But we did prove that, taken one bar at a time, Santa Cruz offered plenty of the free stuff for cheapskates like us.

For a complete rundown of local happy hours, check out the individual bar-and-club listings.

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From the June 16-23, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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