Happy Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant, 1002 Walnut Street, 303-444-5335.
The Hours: Daily from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
The Deals: $1 off draft beers; $4 featured wines by the glass, sangria, and well cocktails; $6 martinis; $2-$5 small plates.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: At first glance, The Med (as it's known to locals) looks a lot like a chain restaurant -- an Olive Garden or a Brio Café, for example -- or an upscale cafeteria. High top tables sit on the laminate floor around the bar, and the grandiose dining room is frocked in clusters of fake fruit and decorative glass containers full of grains and lentils. Everything about The Med screams cliché, from the décor to the servers' uniforms to the wine list. But cliché or not, the place is always crowded with people sipping cocktails over tapas, and presumably, anywhere that has a wait at 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday has got to offer something worthwhile, so we decided to stay.
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The Verdict: We claimed the last available bar table and began pouring over the extensive happy hour offerings. Once our beers arrived, we ordered a mishmash of small plates and began discussing our day.
The food arrived in a timely fashion, which was excellent because we were starving -- so hungry, in fact, that we hardly noticed how unattractive the plates were. The baba ghanouj sat in scoops, gray and pale, next to triangles of cold pita bread that had been doused in olive oil; the polenta was soggy and viscous, and we found ourselves eating only the dabs of blue cheese on top; prosciutto-wrapped dates could have been redeeming, were it not for the pits that were left in the centers (The menu warns of this, but really? Can't they use pitted dates?). And the baked feta with Roma tomatoes, artichokes, and kalamata olives, was nearly inedible as the entire dish was pungently briny. We ate enough to carry us over to the next bar, and then we got out as fast as we could, leaving our table to the next couple inexplicably waiting in line.
Overall Grade: C-