Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Insider's Guide to Happy Hour In Napa: Part Two

You know that the City of Napa has arrived when there are too many happy hour deals to fit in a single roundup article.  So here we are again, with Part Two of the Insider's Guide.  As in Part One, I'm not trying to do a comprehensive listing of all the discounts, just sharing some of my personal favorites for cheap drinks and snacks during that happiest of hours.  As you may notice from my photo selections, I tend to fixate on the snacks... but really, the drinks are just as important for this shortlist.  And here they are:

Bui Bistro.  Anyone who reads my blog knows of my immense love for this place.  Chef-owner Patrick Bui grew up and learned to cook in France, so his versions of Vietnamese classics have a Gallic elegance to them that suits the tasteful decor of his Pearl Street restaurant.  He also pours plenty of well-priced Old World wines, chosen to show off the complex flavors in his cuisine.  During happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, all wines by the glass are $2 off, and the appetizers are $3 less than usual.  This means that you can order the swoon-worthy Saigon wings, 5-spice duck confit, or spring rolls for only $5 per order, and wash it down with a glass of Austrian Grüner Veltliner or prosecco for $6.  And since happy hour runs from 5-7pm, this really could be dinner. 
TRAGIC UPDATE OCTOBER 3, 2012:  Restaurant staff told me today that they have discontinued happy hour... please help me lobby to bring it back!  Keep asking for these awesome deals.

Bui Bistro's oh-so-succulent duck confit
infused with Vietnamese five-spice.
1313 Main.  This sleek new wine bar at the north edge of downtown is gaining a reputation for its late night bubbles and beats on the weekends, but it's also well worth a visit during happy hour.  Sunday through Wednesday from 3-6pm, a rotating selection of eight wines by the glass and five bottled beers are available two for the price of one, with mixing and matching allowed.  Their selection of wines ranges from local cult cabs to quirky international producers, and changes frequently to keep things interesting.  A short list of wine-friendly small plates created by Chef Sarah Scott (former executive chef at the Robert Mondavi Winery) can also be yours during happy hour for $5-6 off the normal prices.  Think snacks like muhamarra, green herb pesto, and apricot raita.  1313 has a sexy vibe, and lots of different seating options (including a fabulous back patio), so odds are you can find a spot that suits you.

1313 Main's rabbit terrine with red curry mustard,
pickled fennel, toast.
Uva Trattoria Italiana. Just down the block and around the corner from 1313 Main, downtown veteran Uva has been packing the locals in for twelve glorious years.  The music stage and dancefloor get put to good use on the weekends, but I prefer to go pre-music for happy hour in their spacious bar and lounge area.  Weekdays from 4-6pm -- except Mondays, when they're closed -- a selection of draft beers is $3, house red or white wine is $5, and well drinks are $4 (yes! they have one of downtown's rare full bar licenses).  To help line your stomach against the booze, check out the happy hour antipasti menu (all $5), which includes pizzas, baby back ribs, almonds & olives, and assorted other savory nibbles.  Tuesday nights are extra happy with a burger & pint deal for $10, as well as the usual specials.  On Sundays in November, you can score a classic margherita pizza and pint of beer for only $10, as well.  

Uva's pesto arancini; photo by Jade R. on
Fumé Bistro.  Fumé is like the north Napa version of Zinsvalley: friendly, non-fussy, comfort food with a twist.  Their offbeat location alongside Highway 29 on Byway East (turn off 29 at El Centro Avenue to get there) lends a clandestine feel to the place, though, and it consequently has a cultish following of locals.  Monday night is particularly famed for the "Five Dollar Burger" ($5.55) deal, which starts at 4pm and runs until closing.  The rest of the workweek also has its discounts: from 4-6pm, a small menu of prime drinking foods (like margherita pizza, polenta fries, onion rings with chipotle barbecue sauce, and fried raviolis) awaits, for only $4.50 per plate.  And from 4-6pm Monday through Friday, beers and well cocktails from their full bar are only $3.50.
For more happy hour suggestions, check out Part One to this guide, here.

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