Happy Place: Japoix Restaurant and Lounge, 975 Lincoln Street, 303-861-2345
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close.
The Deals: $3 well drinks and wines by the glass; half-priced beer, sake and specialty cocktails; $3-$8 small plates.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Located on the first floor of the Beauvallon. The front doors open to the main dining area, a sleek space decked out in dark woods, cream-colored walls and sultry splashes of crimson. A narrow hallway lined with small booths leads patrons back to the bar area, a funky lounge complemented by white leather couches, flat-screen televisions and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Even though the view is a little anti-climactic, the large windows birth a refreshing natural light; the couches are comfortable if you sit upright (the low backs make total relaxation a bit awkward); the music is upbeat; and the bartenders know what they're doing.
Frog legs, anyone?
The Verdict: A sudden downpour had forced us to seek shelter at Japoix, and while we ran in on a whim, we quickly realized there were far worse places to be shielded from the rain. We headed to the back bar, promptly ordered carafes of hot sake to ease the autumn chill in our bones, stretched out and turned our attention to food.
The cuisine at Japoix is French-Asian, although the happy-hour menu is more Asian than French. We were happily greeted with ginger-glazed edamame as soon as we sat down, and we munched on pickle spears, served with sriracha aioli, that had been dredged in tempura batter and flash-fried. We inhaled the Kobe bao bun sliders, too, and while we savored the juicy, perfectly grilled beef, we were slightly sad that the steamed buns weren't warm. The crisp frog legs were an appreciated novelty on a happy-hour menu, and the duck wontons provided a savory, delicious twist on the traditional imitation crab-and-cream cheese preparation. All in all, we had a jolly good time at Japoix, and the happy-hour menu, for the most part, is a step above many neighborhood spreads. Half-priced hot sake on a cold day is one of life's simple pleasures, and when the bartender who's pouring is gracious and friendly, we have little to complain about.
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Overall Grade: B+