Happy Place: Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria, 410 East 7th Avenue, 303-861-9463.
Happy Hours: Daily from 3 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close
The Deals: $5 glasses of wine on all pours under $10; half price on any glass of wine over $10; $3 Peroni drafts; $3 well cocktails; $2-$4 food specials between 3 and 7 p.m.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: You know those seemingly accursed addresses at which every business that sets up shop there fails, no matter the concept? After a string of ill-fated ventures launched at the corner of Seventh and Grant, Lala's appears to have found the magic recipe for longevity. The vast bar area takes up fully half of the large, open dining space, and features a gorgeous marble top and mosaic tiled back. A tidy row of cozy high-topped deuces are first-date worthy, but a casually dressed Gov's Park crowd dominates the lively, bustling scene. The sight of temperature-controlled wine taps let us breathe a sigh of relief in the comfort of knowing that the last glass of the bottle would be as fresh as the first (thereby preventing the occurrence of one of our most feared wine bar service fails).
After offering up a positively effusive greeting, our knowledgeable server explained the happy hour specials, then sped off to another thirsty table, where we overheard her delivering an accurate, informative description of a full-bodied red. Desperate to share the happy hour love with friends (but noticing that our crew was running all kinds of late), we hesitantly asked if it would be cool if we ordered a discounted glass of vino before the clock ran out. Our server didn't bat an eyelash at our request, but simply asked to see our pal's ID when she showed up.
The Verdict: Lala's by-the-glass wine offerings had us all starry eyed: An ambitious listing of twenty whites, thirty reds, and -- incredibly -- five dessert pours grouped within user-friendly, descriptive headings like "Fresh," "Juicy" and "Luscious." The warmth of the day practically demanded a pink wine; we dutifully complied and ordered a flute of the Marquis de la Tour Brut Rosé NV ($5). Showcasing a gorgeous baby's breath-pink hue and a bright strawberry Bonne Bell Lip Smacker fragrance, we delighted in all the tart, creamy bubbles that continued dancing up our glass for the entire time it took us to consume it. When our rosé bubbly-induced buzz and growling tummies reminded us we'd skipped lunch, we turned our attention to the batch of wine-supportive bar snacks that graced Lala's happy hour menu. A generous handful of salted Marcona almonds, two fat, prosciutto-wrapped dates and -- our favorite bite -- a plate of flash-fried, blue cheese-stuffed Castelveltrano olives, (served on a bed of arugula alongside savory roasted red pepper Romesco), set us back a grand total of $9. Descriptions of two other apps -- a lamb meatball slider and gnocchi with spinach, portabellos and brown butter -- served to create a mental foodie bookmark to sample on a return visit.
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SHOW ME HOW
Our late-to-arrive guest agreed to indulge our curiosity by ordering the Kesseler Pinot Noir 2010 ($6.25), a German wine we'd been desperate to sample. A few swirls of the glass revealed some serious funk on the nose; a blend of farmy soil and roasted cherry aromas that piqued our interest even more. As we'd hoped, the palate offered a wildly interesting (and totally delicious) mix of spicy, gamy, and -- you're not hallucinating here -- cured pepperoni flavors. In short? Fantastic, which, coincidentally, is exactly how we'd sum up our happy hour experience at Lala's.
Overall Grade: A