Planning a Happy Hour?

For a growing comprehensive list of ongoing food and drink specials in your area, check out our neighborhoods tab or for those looking to plan a happy hour on specific day, check out our specials by day of the week.

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Varanese – Crescent Hill

2106 Frankfort Avenue Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 899-9904

A thunderstorm capped off a 100 degree summer day about the same time our party of three arrived at Varanese. Through the dark skies and torrential rain, the single strip of red neon light circling the restaurant guided our 2000 Ford Focus hatchback into Varanese’s small parking lot.

Oozing romance like a bee hive oozes honey, Varanese enveloped us with its sophisticated charm created by a live jazz quartet and fresh red roses atop each table. Here with our friend Andrea, there was no doubt each of us experienced a fleeting thought about the appropriateness of our party of ladies–looking out at a sea of seated couples.

We were greeted by the manager and several other eager staff before the hostess led us to our table. Busily conversing between ourselves, we barely noticed the young woman in a white Tuxedo shirt and black pants retrieving the cloth napkins from our glasses and placing them in our laps in order to fill our water glasses. Another similarly dressed server immediately brought us a plate of Bruschetta to tide us over.

Appetizer Platter $14

Prepared to split several starters, we weighed out the choices the fairly extensive appetizer menu offered us. Along with the typical fried calamari and house made potato chips, there were also some unique options that included: avocado stuffed crab and beef, rice and mandarin oranges wrapped in grape leaves. Not much discussion was needed. A sampler of almost everything, the appetizer platter jumped out at us. Two more appetizers later, and a filling meal was had by all. Onto the drinks!

To our initial dismay, none of the specialty cocktails were included in the happy hour. However, our server went above and beyond by telling us what she would do if she were working within the happy hour restraints. Maybe we couldn’t get the French Fusion with Grey Goose La Poire and white grape juice amongst other fun little additions, but we could do the Abosolut pear and grape juice with a splash of soda. $3 on the rocks could be transformed into a martini for an extra $1.50. Rocks it is.

Absolut Pear and white grape juice cocktail $3

A breakdown of our 4-star rating: We were very impressed by both the food and drink quality of Varenese’s Sunday night happy hour. We rarely come across an upscale establishment that provides equal opportunities for their happy hour patrons. The only thing that separates Varanse from our ideal happy hour is that it prevents the whim factor by only offering specials two nights a week.

Jasmine Ashton and Megan Feil, July 13, 2012
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Posted in 4 star rating, Appetizers, cocktails, Sunday | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Java Brewing Company—Highlands

1707 Bardstown Road Louisville 40205
(502) 384-3555

The Highlands boasts a multitude of coffee shops stretching from the Heine Brothers at Douglass Loop all the way down to Quills on Baxter. Java Brewing Company is one of the few coffee shops that serves alcohol and is the only one that offers weekly wine or beer specials, making it the most multi-functional. 

Drinking on the job is never recommended, but when you work from home sometimes you need a little something to bring you out of a doldrum routine.  We often go to Java to do our work for a change in atmosphere and, of course, their lovely crepes and coffee concoctions. After working all morning as usual, by mid-afternoon on this particular Tuesday, the 2 for $5 beer special was calling our names. We decided it was time for a little break. We had tried everything else on Java’s menu, time to try out a beer.

This was the first time either of us tasted Bourbon Barrel Stout in a bottle. On draft the bourbon aftertaste makes more of an impact, which just isn’t quite there in the bottle.

The best deal by far is the regularly priced $5 BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout, but they offer some variety currently including: Blue Moon Summer Ale, Upland Wheat Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Fall’s City Pale Ale, Magic Hat Vinyl, and BBC Nut Brown. These are usually a dollar more at $3.50.

A breakdown of our 4-star rating: Java deserves 4 stars because of what they offer within their constraints as a coffee shop. Java provides a special for a niche-specific crowd, which is probably why they can offer such a great deal—people are less likely to come out of the woodwork for beer and wine at a coffee shop. Java regulars, on the other hand, can certainly benefit from a drink after work with a friend or coworker.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, June 25, 2012

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Posted in 1/2 Price Wine Bottles, 4 star rating, Beer, Daytime, Drinks, Evening, Thursday, Tuesday, Wine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SuperChef’s Breakfast—Clifton

2317 Brownsboro Rd Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 895-3270

After driving past the multitude of chain restaurants on Brownsboro Rd, we turned into the parking lot where our iPhone GPS said SuperChef’s Breakfast resided. After parking and walking around what appeared to be a Chicago Gyros joint snuggled between a dry cleaners and a Mexican restaurant, we noticed a small sign reading Olympic SuperChef and apprehensively entered.

We discovered SuperChef’s Breakfast when it popped up on Yelp‘s Hot New Businesses section. They opened a little over a month ago but already offer a $5 for $10 Yelp deal, which upon registering for a Yelp profile and visiting SuperChef’s page you can click on the $5 buy now and enter credit card details. They will also be releasing LivingSocial and Groupon deals at the end of this month—just in time for the July 5th opening of their second location in Chenoweth Square.

This new breakfast chef did in fact move into the Chicago Gyros building, sharing the location—kitchen, dining area and all. It’s a pretty neat idea that two completely separate restaurants operating independently of each other can co-exist in the same space. The same mentality perhaps shared by their twenty and thirty something clientele when renting an apartment. “Oh, you work second shift and will never be home when I am?” “Great!” Both save on rent and everyone is happy.

We went with a few friends to Sunday brunch and had a delightful time, despite the lack of aesthetics offered by the modest 8-table diner-like restaurant. The place was packed with families celebrating Father’s Day, but luckily we were able to squeeze in two seats at the end of the bar and stand around that area. We took co-owner Ryan Bryson‘s suggestion to place our order’s in the hopes that the timing of our food being ready and more seating becoming available would coincide. Chatting and joking with us while we waited, Ryan treated us like old friends. Despite half of our party standing, our female server still brought us coffee and water. It only took about twenty minutes before two more bar stools opened up. Upon being seated, SuperChef Darnell Ferguson offered us a serving of three light and fluffy beignets with dollops of strawberry compote bordering the edges of the plate while we waited.

SuperChef’s Eggs Benedict Usually $9.99

SuperChef’s Breakfast Platter Usually $9.99

The menu selection itself reveals this is no typical diner. Prices range from $6-$10 for each gourmet version of typical diner fare. Bacon is dressed with brown sugar. Hash browns are topped with a tomato aioli. The usual muffin, biscuit or toast option is amped up with a pretzel croissant. Most dishes are accompanied by fresh mixed greens spritzed with a light honey mustard vinaigrette. In addition to the flair presented by every dish our table ordered, one brunch classic stands out with it’s innovative twists: the SuperChef’s Eggs Benedict. Rather than poached, SuperChef chose over-easy. Instead of Canadian bacon, house-made sausage. Red pepper grit cake replaces the English muffin. All topped off with a rich yet light Mornay sauce.

A breakdown of our 5-star rating: The food quality does not match the plastic dishes and mismatched silverware it is served with. We love that while Darnell holds an impressive resume as the former chef of the 2008 Beijing Olympic team, as well as working in the kitchen’s of several of Louisville’s most upscale restaurants, he and Ryan are maintaining the same integrity as they cater to the masses. Not only do they use local ingredients when possible, but they seem to be working to raise our palates to those of the decadent. With rich taste comes much butter and the only slight criticism of the food is that the breakfast platter was a tad too oily. Nothing several napkins can’t cure.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, June 17, 2012

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Posted in 5 star rating, Brunch, Daytime, Every Day, Friday, Monday, Saturday, Sunday, Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

El Nopal — Downtown

1041 Zorn Avenue  Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 897-5541

One particularly humid Monday afternoon, we felt a craving for margaritas coming on. As self-imposed Highlands hostages, Sol Aztecas, located less than a mile down the road, was naturally our first choice. Unfortunately, there were no happy hours listed on their website and being Millenials the thought of picking up the phone was too much to bear.

A quick Google search showed El Nopal, a family owned Mexican franchise dominating the results pages. Similar to the multitude of cheese, beans, meat and tortilla concoctions served up by Mexican restaurants (with only slight variations), El Nopal appears in 14 iterations throughout Louisville. Burrito or taco? Zorn Avenue or Paramount Park Drive? How do we choose?

When presented with the same restaurant in slightly different packages, factors like atmosphere carry more weight. Only able to view each restaurant as a dot on a Google map, we quickly made a semi-blind decision. Having driven on Zorn Avenue a few times when we attended waterfront concerts we thought that a location overlooking the Ohio river would provide reprieve from the oppressive 95 degree heat.

If only we had taken the two seconds to zoom in…

Black asphalt as far as the eye could see— we turned off of Zorn and found ourselves in a Ramada Inn parking lot. An annex to the hotel, this El Nopal probably has the worst atmosphere of their many locations. Stubbornly sticking to our initial plan of sipping margaritas in an outdoor oasis, we unassumingly asked to be seated outdoors. With raised eyebrows, our server hesitantly presented the patio barricaded with tall iron bars overlooking more pavement. 7 minutes later, drenched in sweat, we collected our belongings and covertly slipped indoors.

$1.99 frozen lime margarita offered all day on Monday and Wednesday

Plagued with decision fatigue, we almost welcomed the lack of options for this location’s margarita special. 12 ounces. Lime. Frozen. The choice was made for us at the Zorn Avenue El Nopal and the drink did not disappoint. It is important to note that specials vary based on location. Many of the other locations offer discounts on flavored margaritas, pitchers and food. Thirteen more El Nopal reviews coming soon…

A breakdown of our 3-star rating: We’ve noticed a trend that the majority of margarita specials in Louisville happen to land on Wednesday. We can only assume that El Nopal must be a  member of a local Mexican restaurant cartel, which at some point conspired to discount drinks on Wednesdays (perhaps to compete with El Mundo’s reign as margarita king?). El Nopal differentiates itself from the rest with all day availability on Mondays and Wednesdays, a nice perk for the alternatively employed. However, in contrast with its sister locations, the Zorn Avenue El Nopal does not have as an extensive array of drink specials. As for the drink itself, the frozen margarita was refreshing and strong but tasted just like that of any other comparably priced Mexican restaurant.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, June 10, 2012

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Cumberland Brewery—Highlands

1576 Bardstown Road Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 458-8727

We were first introduced to “cumbies”, which our friend Maria affectionately called it, during our 2009 Louisville visit from our home state of North Carolina. Walking into the first floor dining area, surrounded by tattooed female servers and antique beer can decor, we thought Cumberland Brewery perfectly matched our impression of the Highlands. Ordinarily, we might have seen the laid-back service as inconvinent but having a good time in a new place took our minds off that sort of thing. Distracted by the excitement of exploring a new city’s staples, we hardly noticed the food and beer, which we’d now describe as merely decent.

After living in Louisville for over a year, only a few blocks away from Cumberland Brews, we often bypass this middle of the road brew pub unless friends in the neighborhood suggest meeting there for a beer. It’s nothing special, but not terrible either.

We’ve come to expect that the food will always appear more eclectic on the menu than it ever does on our plates. The highlights of their happy hour food offerings are on Wednesday and Thursday when you can get a bison burger and a quesadilla, respectively, and a beer for ten bucks. While both are certainly consumable, it’s the price that makes it worthwhile.

Cumberland brews offers solid variety in their beer menu, which changes periodically to include seasonal options. Perhaps this is because they have small and large batches. We understand that a microbrewery of such a small size is not going to deliver the same level of consistency as its larger or commercial competitors, but after dozens of visits to Cumberland it’s clear that consistency is not on their list of priorities.

Moonbow Wit

Nitro Porter

Even the brews they always have on tap taste very different from one visit to the next. On a few occasions, we’ve had to break our personal code of ethics and send the drink back. However, there is one similarity between many of their beers: each one we’ve tried, ranging from the dark porters to the pale ales, lacks the body, flavor and richness we expect from them. Wheat beers at Cumberland seem to be a close relative to water. Granted, some days they are better than others.

Perhaps it’s the inconsistencies that keep us coming back to Cumberland, which has become somewhat of a constant in our lives as Highlands residents. Even if it is a constant disappointment we’ll invariably end up there every now and again.

A breakdown of our 3-star rating: While their beer and food continue to underwhelm us, an area that Cumberland Brews does excel is in their wide selection of specials. They offer lengthy happy hour during the week and an all day one on Sunday. Drinks are even discounted an additional dollar on Tuesday evenings. In addition, a few of their weekly specials also involve food which is always a delight to discover. In comparison to some of the other local microbreweries, Cumberland has by far the best deals in town. However, we can’t ignore their subpar quality and service.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, May 22, 2012

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Posted in 3 star rating, Daytime, Evening, Friday, Lunch Specials, Microbrew, Monday, Sunday, Thursday, Tuesday, Vegetarian Friendly, Wednesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Asiatique— Highlands

1767 Bardstown Road  Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 451-2749

If there is a holy grail of happy hours in Louisville, Asiatique may be it. With classy cocktails, a minimalist aesthetic and inspired starters, one may not expect this upscale restaurant to offer discounted food and drinks. But in fact, they have specials nearly every night of the week—even a late night deal on Fridays.

Other patrons must feel similarly: when we arrived around 5:45 pm, the bar was filled to its 15 person capacity with an assortment of professionals recently finished with the work day. We, on the other hand, love that the low lights and plush couches in the lounge area make for an atmosphere that is both chic and inviting, giving us an excuse to dress up.

Yoshi $4

Pink Ginger Lemonade $4, Mango Gimlet $5, Berry Blast $4

We tried Asiatique for the first time in January after hearing friends rave about their cocktails. Now returning several months later, spring’s taste buds reigned prominently with elements like ginger, lemon, lavender, and mint enveloping many of the martinis and mixed drinks. We love that their drink menu evolves with the seasons. Upon this visit, we also learned that Asiatique’s manager and bartender, Jason Burns, is the mixologist responsible for inventing these decadent beverages.

Roasted diced duck breast, asian salsa, spiced miso aioli and crisp tortilla chips (Regularly $9)

Indochine inspired grilled angus beef satay with asian pesto (Regularly $8)

Choosing to ignore the label that “starters” implies, we began our meal and finished it solely with four delectable starters split between our party of three. Combining Pacific Rim cuisine with Western techniques, Asiatique offers a variety of protein options spanning the gamut from pork, duck, beef, lamb, and fish. Of the few we gorged on, our favorites were the beef kabobs and the duck nachos pictured above. It was easy to hit the vegetable category on the food guide pyramid as well. We couldn’t resist trying the uniquely named Vegetable Tempura Orgy.

A breakdown of our 5-star rating: It’s not often that we come across a happy hour that not only meets, but surpasses, our list of qualifications. Asiatique does it with flair. We love the fact that this restaurant offers daily specials, ranging from early evening to late night, in addition to a Monday through Friday happy hour. We also appreciate that they graciously extend their entire cocktail menu. However, what really sets Asiatique apart from some of the other upscale restaurants and bars that we’ve visited is the diverse appetizer selection available on special. In addition, the service has always been friendly and informative. We highly recommend the lounge or, for those who prefer a sunny exposure, Asiatique’s second floor patio provides another gorgeous setting for imbibing and enjoying.

Jasmine Ashton & Megan Feil, May 7, 2012

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60 West Martini Bar – St Matthews

3939 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY
(502) 719-9717

We arrived at 60 West Bistro and Martini Bar prepared to enjoy an equal share of drinks and appetizers (or ‘lounge plates’ as they’re called on the menu) to split. Their eclectic international fare was well-portioned, yet light enough to pair with an evening of plentiful cocktails. We were impressed by the chef’s savory creations which perfectly balanced out the sweetness of the martinis.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps $10, Beef N Blue Sliders $9, Bruschetta $8

Enjoying martinis at 60 West with our friend Andrea

60 West’s name references their arsenal of more than 60 specialty martinis. Normally priced anywhere from $7 to $9, they are $5 a pop if you order during one of their many happy hours. While many cater to the sugary taste buds of what seems to be their typical clientele, they also offer traditional style gin and vodka martinis. The use of bourbon, rum, and a variety of liqueurs also adds to their diverse selection.

Sexual Chocolate Normally $8

Taste the Rainbow Normally $7

After sampling a handful of drinks, Sexual Chocolate and Taste the Rainbow became instant favorites. Sexual Chocolate will satisfy the cravings of the most desperate chocoholic and Taste the Rainbow is akin to drinking liquid skittles.

Though we didn’t set out to only imbibe martinis descendant from candy shops, the fresh juices and stiff pours tempered the saccharin nature of these cocktails—reducing the overkill effect. However, subtlety was not characteristic of the distastefully named “Alien Secretion” shooters for their worldly color.

Tall ceilings, wooden accents and angular decor create a trendy atmosphere. With the high volume of customers, 60 West has good potential for meeting people. On this particular night these people took shape in the form of gaggles of women. It’s a shame that our server Mike was the only male we interacted with all night because this is the sort of place that entices you to dress up a bit. On the other hand, if you’re a guy looking for a bar where the the ratio is stacked in your favor, 60 West may be just the place to go.

A breakdown of our 4-star rating:  It’s hard to beat drinking martinis in an upscale St. Matthews establishment for $5 each during a variety of happy hour time frames—including our coveted Saturday night slot (until 2 am!). We also love it when the quality and selection of martinis don’t sink during happy hour: no well liquors are used and the entire menu is available. Impeccable service and both a spacious bar area and dining room make this spot accommodating to both small parties and large groups. The only real drawback that we witnessed was the cost of the $8 – $13 appetizers which may be a necessary evil when the drinks are discounted so heavily.

Jasmine Ashton and Megan Feil, April 30, 2012

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Posted in 1/2 Price Wine Bottles, 4 star rating, Beer, cocktails, Daytime, Drinks, Evening, Every Day, Friday, Late Night, Monday, Saturday, Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment