Happy Place: Zocalo Restaurant and Bar, 12 East Eleventh Avenue, 720-382-1940
The Hours: Every day from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
The Deals: 2 for 1 drafts, well drinks, and wines by the glass; $5 shots of Don Julio Silver; $2.50 margaritas; half-price appetizers
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Zocalo, which opened last summer, showcases the food of brothers Rafael and Mario Vargas, two Mexico City natives who have created a menu touting their own homeland-inspired recipes. The decor -- an open, square-shape room with booths, varnished hardwoods that have been exposed to many a spilled drink, and a bar where you can expect jersey-wearing, beer-belly-boasting neighborhood locals to be screaming at a TV airing a football game, beers in hand -- is relatively nondescript. Its biggest asset -- a patio -- is large and lounge-y and a perfect place for patrons to sip margaritas under the twinkling lights hanging high above the fence.
The Verdict: There are certain things we would change about the happy hour at Zocalo: We'd boot the chick who sat behind us and relentlessly bitched about her food to the server for thirty minutes straight; we'd take back the fact that we asked for a full order of taquitos, not realizing that they were already arriving on the appetizer platter we had also ordered; and we'd get rid of the mangy men unabashedly gawking from the booth across the room. Instead, we'd fill the entire bar with people tipping back margaritas and enjoying the incredibly generous happy hour that Zocalo has to offer. We'd keep the half-priced appetizers that come in portions large enough to feed a starving army, and we'd also hold on to the staff, with whom we'd love to shoot tequila -- given the opportunity.
Zocalo's happy-hour grub isn't the best Mexican fare we've ever had, but it's far from the worst. An appetizer platter, served with a quesadilla, a chile relleno and several crispy chicken taquitos, is gigantic and rings in at just under four bucks. The bacon-chili-cheese fries will not only rock your world, but also your gall bladder, and we found that proclaiming our love for pork products to our server earned us extra bacon. True, the margs are made with a mix, but don't let that deter you: Those suckers, loaded with booze, are a balanced blend of sweet and tart. The staff is sweet and incredibly accommodating, and our tequila haze left us wanting to hug each and every one of them on our way out the door.
Go to Zocalo. And bring your friends.
Overall Grade: B+
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.