Happy Place: Hapa Sushi, 2780 East Second Avenue, 303-322-9554
The Hours: Daily from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The Deals: $1-$3.50 sake specials; $2 Hapa beer; $2 nigri specials; half-priced appetizers
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Hapa has held court in Cherry Creek for years, a testament to something worthwhile in a neighborhood where restaurants come and go in the blink of an eye. The décor is modern, if not obnoxiously trendy and industrial -- and it works. While our favorite happy hour seats at Hapa are on the lifted patio surrounding the perimeter, patrons can also grab a chair inside when temperatures rise. The happy hour is a daily event, and the hosts make sure you don't have to wait too long to indulge.
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The Verdict: The happy hour at Hapa rules: It's convenient and accessible (aside from the horrific Cherry Creek parking scene), the drinks are cheap, the food leaves us wanting for more, and the portions are huge. In addition, Hapa pours a sake to suit every mood, and when we feel like branching out from the standard sushi rolls, we eagerly hit up the half-priced appetizers. Our personal favorite is the poke, a big plate of seared ahi served over a crunchy taro cake and finished with tangy yuzu sour cream; it easily feeds two. The kobe carpaccio isn't as visually appealing as it could be, but the flavors are defined and the portion is more than adequate. Other favorites? The Hawaiian sliders and the "monkey brains" -- tempura-fried avocado with tuna and Sriracha mayo.
There's not much to complain about, save for the occasional lapse in service, but the staff is unfailingly friendly, and the tab is cheap...and that makes us happy campers.
Overall Grade: A-