Happy hour, happy belly at Okinawa

Happy Place: Okinawa, 2301 East Colfax Avenue, 303-322-8886

The Hours: Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

The Deals: 2-for-1 on all beer, wine and sake; $4 to $12.95 sushi and salad specials

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: Colfax Avenue, between York and Josephine, is bursting with life these days. Within the last four months, that one solo block has acquired a Jimmy John's, Floyd's Barbershop, the swankiest 7-Eleven around and Okinawa. The brainchild of Spicy Basil and Go Fish entrepreneur Michael Zheng, Okinawa opened in mid-December, serving lunch and dinner -- and a fantastic happy hour -- in a lustrous dining area often packed with locals wielding chopsticks and sipping sake.

Like most sushi joints, Okinawa allows guests to belly up to the sushi bar, where chefs diligently chop sashimi and create brightly colored rolls. The dining room fits more people that you'd expect given the cozy, cubic space walled with windows. The dinnerware is sophisticated yet artisanal, the tables are spacious, and the plush velvet seats make our tired derrieres very, very happy.

The Verdict: Happy hour at Okinawa is a delightful way to remove yourself from the insanity of Colfax, while secluding yourself inside a posh restaurant with incredible food. But take note: Okinawa's happy hour performs like a late lunch, and it ends around the time many other happy hours are just beginning (otherwise, it's a perfect location to start a long night of happy hour-hopping). The happy hour is one of the only times during the day that the restaurant isn't completely packed, but by the time you've taken your last swig of sake, it's bumping.

The salad options -- the crab with mango, another with avocado and the seaweed salad -- are all fresh and packed with flavor, and generous portions are served for only four bucks. Other classic favorites, like edamame and calamari, are offered in equally large helpings. The sushi rolls boast clean, organic flavors, and many specialty rolls are priced under $6. The most impressive perk of Okinawa's happy hour is the selection: Nearly the entire menu is offered at a discount, making the enticing possibilities nearly endless. Two-for-one sake carafes ($4.50) had us teetering out of the restaurant with the sun still high in the sky, and before we stumbled the four blocks home, we warned the the friendly servers that they would be seeing us again.

Overall Grade: A-

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