I get asked all the time now what my favorite restaurant in town is. Where the best thing I’ve eaten since taking this gig can be found. My answer, for this and most things, is not simple and depends heavily on my mood at any given time. But I do have a favorite Happy Hour, no matter how volatile I’m being.
Bar Louie opened up in the new mall area over a year ago and I’ve been frequenting it ever since. Though, admittedly, I’ve never actually had dinner there. I’ve ordered every half-off appetizer during the hours of happiness and called it dinner, but I’ve never ventured much past the first page of the menu in the dozen times I’ve been been their not-dinner guest. I’ve had no need to. For three blessed hours Monday-Friday, Bar Louie presents us with $5.25 martinis, $4.25 wines by the glass, $3.25 drafts, and 10 choices from their appetizer section. I can easily make an entire feast out of that.
I start every trip to Bar Louie out with a Diva Martini. Partly because it’s the first one on the list and partly because it just feels right as rain. Though I do wish it had a better name because there’s a certain man in my life that loves it as much as I do and I start looking a little questionable when I have to order his drinks too, as though they are all for me. This pink concoction shows up with a hunk of pineapple hanging onto the rim and here’s an insider tip: chop it up into pieces and toss it right back into your drink. I do this because I read somewhere that fresh pineapple is a natural anti-inflammatory power food and I count this as a fruit serving. But you can just do it because it tastes good.
On down the list we move to the Pom Peche which I order by pointing to it on the menu because I’m always worried I’m going to pronounce things wrong and get cut-off before I’ve even started. It’s oddly thick, so I assume that means it counts as another fruit serving. The Clover is the manliest of the martini offerings I suppose, and I typically have to drink at least one for when JP orders it and then wants to swap for my Diva (the things we do for the people we love) though I’m certainly not complaining. The Effen Good is made with Effen Vodka which (fun fact!) is partly owned by 50 Cent, so on principal alone it’s as good as partying “like it’s your birthday“. The Cosmo, Rat Pack, and Dirty are all good versions of great classics. The Sparklin’ Ruby is dry as eff if you’re into that (and I am), and the 90 Miles to Florida is effen fantastic if you’re into rum (and I’m not).
But the S’Mores Martini is the real show-stopper. A smooth and delectable dessert in a glass, even if I get a sideways glance when I order a second one (like you’ve never met someone that orders a second dessert before—come on.) The graham cracker crust rim is perhaps a bit much but honestly at this point in cocktail hour(s) for me, anything is forgivable. This is the point in the night you could tell me that you prefer my hair longer and I probably won’t get all Girl Upset, you know for example.
The Honeydew tastes a bit like sunscreen in a glass (in a good way) and coconut. And I try to always have a Grand Lemon Drop because, tradition. Or priorities. Whatever the reason, it’s always done so well that I often forget to photograph it before I start drinking it.
And food! They serve food at Bar Louie! To optimize your pre-planning, here is the list of their half-off Happy Hour apps ($8.29-$11.49, regular price):
Buffalo Chicken Flatbread
Roasted Vegetable Flatbread
Verde Chicken Flatbread
Thai Chicken Flatbread
Chicken or Cheese Quesadilla
Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Trio Dips & Chips
Now, I feel about flatbread the same way I feel about Lady Gaga: I didn’t get it at first, but I’m quickly coming around. Of their offerings in this department, the Buffalo Chicken is full of flavor, a bit of heat, a cool ranch chaser, and my favorite. The Boneless Wings are straight off the Sysco truck and perfectly fine as that goes. The Chicken Quesadilla is my go-to; large portion, plenty of cheese, with guac and sour cream on the side. The Spinach & Artichoke Dip needs salt and pepper but my can-do attitude one martini in fixes that at the table myself. The Crispy Calamari is fantastic if you’re a fan and perfectly enjoyable even if you’re not. The Bruschetta Pomodoro is fun to order only because it’s fun to say and comes in a giant martini glass, and the Trio is nothing special but will please most if that’s your ultimate goal.
A few times I’ve gotten intoxicated confused and ventured off the happy hour menu. The Bavarian Pretzel Sticks ($8.99) served with cinnamon butter, queso, and honey mustard are a delicious roller coaster of carbs. If the S’More Martini isn’t enough of a dessert for you, this is a great option with the cinnamon butter. And the Chicken Parm Sliders ($10.29) have shown up at my table more than once only to be devoured, and can easily be considered a proper dinner.
To be clear, Bar Louie has a tomb of a menu that I’ve barely skimmed the top off of. From a Happy Hour review prospective however, this is the easiest four stars I’ve ever given out. Bar Louie: a fine ten dollar martini, but an excellent five dollar one (and great food to wash the booze down with.)
One time I got a free piece of chocolate cake for my half birthday but I’m not exactly sure how that came to be. Though, if you’re at Happy Hour celebrating your real birthday, you should totally mention it. I will even vouch for them never singing.
Bar Louie (Happy Hour M-F, 4-7pm)
321 East Foothills Parkway
Parking: Mall and Garage Parking.
Healthy Options? Not really.
Budget-Friendly? For Happy Hour, yes.
Recent Health Inspection: Good.