Anyone who has a job looks forward to the end of day where they can unwind, kick back, and enjoy a drink. It’s like being a kid waiting for the bell at the end of the day, once it rings you’re off like a shot. They don’t call it happy hour for nothing! Even those of us who thoroughly enjoy our jobs need a little R and R at the end of a long day. I used to think happy hours were just for cheap drinks until I turned 21 and discovered they were so much more. It was like Aladdin plopped me onto to his magic carpet and showed me the world of happy hour. Since then I have been all over the country sampling what happy hour has to offer. In my travels I have had some amazing food that I normally could never afford. Don’t get me wrong, the drinks are great too, but I am and always will be a food lover. I started out small going to places like Applebee’s and Chevy’s. Once I discovered that certain locations of chains give a free buffet (check your local restaurants for availability) I pretty much ate out every day. All you had to do was buy a $2 beer and you could fill up on pasta, pizza, tacos, sandwiches.. the list goes on. I was over the moon and stuffed to the gills. And so, my love of happy hours was born.
Soon after I decided to branch out to the places I could only go to with my parents. (Don’t judge I was a college kid) The first place I tried was in Wayne, PA called White Dog Cafe. My sister convinced me that even me, a person of little money could afford to eat here. If you could see my face when I looked at the menu you would have thought I was a kid who got a puppy on Christmas or Charlie Bucket when he walked in the Chocolate Factory. They had steak tartar, tuna tartar, farm raised beef sliders, mac and cheese, salads, pretty much anything you could possibly want to eat, all for 5 dollars. The portions weren’t so small even a mouse would turn them down, they were actually really big. Needless to say I was stuffed at the end of the meal and had only spent $ 22 including drinks and spend my 5 pm there at least once a month.
After that day I made it my business to find happy hours like that. Surprisingly, there are a TON of places that have a great happy hour menu. I have been all over the place and have managed to find a great place wherever I go. Most recently I went to a new place that opened in Toms River, New Jersey called Aqua Blu. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet I am a born and raised Jersey Girl who spent her summers near Seaside NJ. NO, I am NOT a Guido. I haven't been near a gym in years, the only tan I get is on the beach, and I have flat blonde hair. Getting back to the point, it was a place that I heard people raving about. Though the menu was a bit out of my price range, I did a little digging and found that they had a happy hour menu. Let me tell you, the food was as good as people said it was. I had fish tacos that were not only delicious, but not over cooked as they can be, and mac and cheese that made my mom’s taste like it came from a box (sorry mom!) After two generous portions of food and 2 glasses of wine, I was only set back $20. My stomach and my bank account were very happy!
So, all you dexterous diners, I have vowed whenever I find a diamond in the rough I will share it with all of you. I am aware that while this may sound good, it is not very helpful if you are not on the east coast. While I do get to places other than New Jersey, you can also find great happy hours near you. I post some on my twitter @dexterousdining; however sites like http://www.happy-hour.com will give you a list of happy hours in your area. You can also check the website or facebook of a restaurant, sometimes they post their specials there. Believe it or not there is even an App for that (not very surprising there’s an app for everything). So you have no excuse not to find one. Get out there and get happy!
Keep your wallets full and your mouths happy
Copyright © 2012 Christine Van Arsdalen. All Rights Reserved.