Happy Place: Bar Louie, 8332 East 49th Avenue, 303-457-5900.
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Deals: $3 draft beers; $4 wines by the glass; $5 martinis; half-priced select appetizers.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: Bar Louie sits amongst a mess of restaurants and shops in Stapleton, an intricate complex of chain clothing stores and places to grab a bite to eat. Bar Louie is massive, a wood-flanked tavern-style hall with large televisions encompassing the bar and enough seating to accommodate nearly everyone who walks in the door. The rectangular bar greets guests immediately, and there are floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. The vibe is causal yet anticipatory, as though one can feel in the air that people are about to do some serious drinking.
The Verdict: "Maybe if we move to the bar someone will notice us," my happy hour buddy pondered, as we sat drinkless and scanning the bar for waitstaff. We decided to reposition ourselves. It worked.
A server quickly approached us and gave us menus, although she was reluctant to divulge the details of happy hour. Once we understood the rules, we ordered a couple of pints and some snacks. The atmosphere around us was very suburban: Lots of bad tattoos, couples in business attire meeting up for post-work martinis, and tables full of men on work trips, cracking jokes and taking full advantage of their expense accounts. Yeesh.
The food was anticlimactic. Our boneless chicken wings, which were essentially chicken nuggets covered in hot sauce, were dry and the bleu cheese dressing was portioned so sparingly that we ran out not even half way through our basket. The trio of dipping sauces -- guacamole, queso, and salsa, served with corn chips -- was a disappointment as well. The queso was gritty, as though it had been made from a mix and not quite warmed up enough, and the guac was underseasoned and bland. We quickly closed the check in search of a more welcoming experience.
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Overall Grade: D