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Swimming in margaritas at La Loma

Happy Place: La Loma, 2527 West 26th Avenue, 303-433-8300

The Deals: $6.50-$7.50 margaritas; $2.75 draft beers; $4 house wines; $4-8 appetizer specials

The Hours: Monday through Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m.

Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.

The Digs: A Denver institution since 1973, the Mexican dining fortress that's La Loma is one of our favorite happy-hour joints in Northwest Denver. Situated on a hilltop overlooking the interstate, guests are welcomed warmly into the large, lounge-y bar outfitted with exposed brick walls and fireplaces. Venture outside the hearth onto the covered patio, which is aptly shaded and perfect for slurping down tequila, rain or shine. Cooks are often seen spinning fresh tortillas, a recipe that hails from the original owner. Although it's within walking distance of some of the best taquerias in Denver, La Loma has the added benefit of a festive atmosphere.

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The Verdict: "I need a margarita the size of my ass," I declared to my friend. As soon as the words escaped from my mouth, I knew we'd made the right decision when choosing La Loma for our happy-hour destination. One margarita is big enough to last through an entire hour of catching up, and it holds enough tequila to leave you giddy by the time you've slurped it dry.

By the time you've ordered your second margarita, you're gonna need some food. The happy hour appetizers at La Loma are dirt-cheap, and the portions just as large as the cocktails. Our personal favorite are the mini chile rellenos. Although we love the traditional dish, we're rarely in the mood to commit to an entire poblano stuffed with cheese and thrown in the fryer. This is precisely why these miniature versions, served with Grandma Mendoza's green chile, are the perfect snack. Bite-sized, crisp, and brimming with queso and just the right amount of heat, they're the soul mate to La Loma's grandiose margarita. Although we've had good experiences with service at La Loma, this particular visit was a bit frustrating. Our server was impossible to track down, and once we managed to catch her attention, she often forgot most of what we had requested. Still, if you're prepared to linger, La Loma is the ideal place to kick back with some friends at the end of your work day.

Overall Grade: B+

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