After-work specials

MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 11/21/2012

These 25 restaurants do happy hour the way it was meant to be - with killer food and drink specials timed for when the workday is done.

Regardless of the color of your collar, work is work. Whether you're slaving at a construction site or gazing hopelessly at a computer screen, by the end of the day alcohol's gentle caress offers sweet relief from back-breaking labor or a cubicle hellhole.

OK, that's a little intense. But even for those of us who love our jobs, happy hour is a working-world tradition, where steam gets blown and daily rigors are lost in a spate of discounted appetizers and adult beverages.

There are many factors to consider when picking a post-work happy hour: value, convenience, atmosphere, menu options. Since you work hard enough, let us make a few metro-spanning suggestions.

DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

The Twin Cities' employment and entertainment epicenter becomes a veritable playground for punched-out worker bees. Unwind within blocks of Whatever Corp. at one of these urban posts.

Oceanaire Seafood Room
50 S. 6th St. • 612-333-2277 • www.theoceanaire.com

Most people can't swing swanky seafood on the regular, but Oceanaire happy hour is another story. Execs and entry-levelers can rub elbows in its stylish bar from 4-7 p.m. with $5-$8 apps, including ahi tuna bites and fish tacos, and $4 taps, $5 wines or $6-$7 specialty drinks and martinis. Class rarely comes cheap, but it does here.

Vincent A Restaurant
1100 Nicollet Mall • 612-630-1189 • www.vincentarestaurant.com

You might not expect one of the best bargain burgers in town from a fine-dining French restaurant, but Vincent plates its esteemed Gouda-topped meat puck for $8 (otherwise $14) during weekday happy hour, along with $3 beer, $4 wines, $5 signature martinis and other assorted snacks. Sneak into the lounge from 4:30-6 p.m. and make it an early discount dinner on the Mall.

Bradstreet Craftshouse
601 1st Av. N. • 612-312-1821 • www.bradstreetcraftshouse.com

Moneyed cocktail connoisseurs can handle double-digit price points on posh potables, but for the rest of us eager paycheck-cashers it's tough to justify. Live like your boss' boss from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, when three handcrafted libations at the Graves 601 Hotel's first-floor bar fetch a mere $6.01 apiece, as do select small bites. Let's hope hotel co-founder Jim Graves doesn't react to his failed congressional bid by raising drink prices.

Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt Bar
515 Washington Av. S. • 612-338-4214 • www.eagleboltbar.com

As your desktop shuts down for the last time, Friday becomes a happy hour free-for-all, and few bars scream TGIF as loudly as this gay bar. At the end of the week the Eagle expands its weekday 4-6 p.m. two-for-one deals by an hour and a drink, with a buy-one-get-three special on rails and Miller beers from 4-7 p.m.

The Living Room
821 Marquette Av. S. • 612-597-2413 • www.mannyssteakhouse.com

For young professional singles, the happy hour date is a convenient and casual means of courtship, and this street-level lounge at the W hotel is a savvy pick. Every day from 5-7 p.m. signature cocktails (as well as wine, beer and small plates) are knocked down to $5. Let's face it, everyone looks sexier holding a high-class cocktail.

Nami
251 1st Av. N. • 612-333-1999 • www.namimpls.com

Of all the types of happy hour fare, sushi might be the most satisfying: Devour food by the plank and grin when a laughably small bill drops at the end. Plop down at Nami with a handful of hungry co-workers weekdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. -- when select rolls range from $5-$7 and beers and small sake are just $3 -- and that will likely be the experience.

The Depot Tavern
17 N. 7th St. • 612-338-1828 • www.thedepottavern.com

End-of-day errands should be as painless as possible. So we suggest timing your next First Avenue ticket grab with your commute and the Depot's 3-6 p.m. discount drinking hours, which boast $3 rails, house wines, $3-$4 taps and half-priced apps. Save even more with those Depot Dollars received for each ticket purchased.

Ike's Food & Cocktails
50 S. 6th St. • 612-746-4537 • www.ilikeikes.com

For a dose of cufflink class with lunch-pail ethos, we like Ike's as an after-work option. Beer prices in the $2.25-$3.25 neighborhood, with $3.25 wines weekdays from 3-6 p.m. match the workingman's mentality, but finer food works with suit-and-tie guy, as well. Wait till 4 p.m. to belly up, when appetizers are buy-one get-one. Variety's nice, but doubling down on the lobster corn dogs isn't a bad move.

The Loon Cafe
500 1st Av. N. • 612-332-8342 • www.looncafe.com

This Warehouse District watering hole is a favorite for spending frill-less downtime. Roll up those sleeves after a long day and knock back $3 beers, rails, house wines, the Loon's house margarita and a slew of savory bar bites weekdays from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Given its light-rail proximity, LRT commuters can get home safely and in time to catch the mind-numbing prime-time distraction of their choice.

Clubhouse Jäger
923 Washington Av. N. • 612-332-2686 • www.clubjager.com

Not every happy hour accommodates the late-working stiff who regularly cranks past 6 p.m. and could use a drink or two more than most. But two-for-one domestic taps and rails run until 7 p.m., starting at 4, during this North Loop pub's Monday-through-Saturday happy hour. File that final TPS report (do those actually exist?) and beeline to the clubhouse.

UPTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

This happy hour hotbed offers bargains by the block for those who work, live or play in the area. Demographics converge in the name of cheap drinks. 

Moto-i
2940 Lyndale Av. S. • 612-821-6262 • www.moto-i.com

This sake brewpub strikes a zen-like equilibrium with its happy hour menu, available daily from 2:20-6 p.m. (and late most nights, too). A well curated lineup of local-leaning taps ($3.50 each) and an array of discounted delectables ($2-$10) score well with the beer-and-bite crowd, while $3.50 house wine and half-priced sake offer a smoother path to alcoholic enlightenment. Knock off early and achieve happy-hour nirvana.

Bar Louie
1348 Lagoon Av. • 612-824-1529 • www.barlouieamerica.com

Strutting out a 40-strong tap roster, happy hour at this quasi-beer bar gone Miami Beach means some decision-making for beer fans. Though a few too many handles cater to the domestic-sipping sect, suds heads have few restrictions on discounted drafts ($3.50 each) weekdays from 4-7 p.m. Beer not your bag? Try a signature $7 martini, $5 wines or half-priced select apps.

Primebar
3001 Hennepin Av. S. • 612-235-4295 • www.primebarminneapolis.com

While Primebar's bargain setters should avail more of its deep and diverse beer list to happy hour-hitters (an uninspiring few make the cut), the Calhoun Square spot makes a perfect pit stop for commuters with dinner plans. Enjoy savory $3-$4 eats like cheese curds and the sweetly smoky pork sliders that don't come in appetite-wrecking portions. Pair the weekday 4-7 p.m. snack-sampling with $3 wells, $4 wines or select $2-$3 beers.

Roat Osha
2650 Hennepin Av. S. • 612-377-4418 • www.roatoshathai.com

Don't fret if you can't find a seat in the bustling bar during Roat Osha's 3-6 p.m. weekday happy hour. While the $3.50-$4.50 appetizer specials are bar-only, drink deals -- including $3 rails, $3.50 taps and $4 wines -- float throughout the entire Thai restaurant. Plus, signature drinks are three bucks off. Pro tip: Plan a midweek pop-in on Wednesdays, when Surly taps stay cheap all night.

The Lowry
2112 Hennepin Av. S. • 612-341-2112 • www.thelowryuptown.com

Don't throw off your penny-pinching game by paying for parking or waste cut-rate quaffing time circling the block for a street spot. With an adjacent lot and 4-7 p.m. daily happy hour, accessibility is a budget-boozing prerogative at this "urban diner." However easy your arrival may be, $3 rails, $3-$4 taps, $4-$6 wines and a $6 select signature cocktail make for satisfying margins.

DOWNTOWN ST. PAUL

A hockey-less Xcel Energy Center means more open bar stools and fewer happy hour restrictions for those working in our state's capital. Insurance-company grunts and government grinders, rejoice.

Pazzaluna
360 Saint Peter St. • 651-223-7000 • www.pazzaluna.com

For upscale Italian fare, Pazzaluna is one of St. Paul's finest. Depending on your order, entrees can be bill-spiking, but budget-conscious patrons will find solace in the 4-6 p.m. daily happy hour. While wines, cocktails and beers vary from $3-$5, the real steal is in the appetizers. Take two selections from the antipasti bar for $5 or max out with five items for only $8.

Señor Wong
111 E. Kellogg Blvd. • 651-224-2019 • www.senorwong.com

Few drinks are as tie-loosening as sake, and thankfully it's a thrifty feature of this Asian-Mexican fusion joint's happy hour. Dollar-off taps and rails don't hurt, but the $3 price dip on rice wines (and regular wine, too) makes the alluring after-work refreshment more affordable. Say sayonara (or hasta luego) to spreadsheets and sales calls with a glass of Onikoroshi from 3:30-6:30 p.m. daily and all day Wednesdays.

Moscow on the Hill
371 Selby Av. • 651-291-1236 • www.moscowonthehill.com

Just up Cathedral Hill, this eatery recently expanded its happy hour for those who can handle their afternoon vodka (that's a thing, right?). Now from 3-6 p.m. weekdays, the Russian restaurant and lounge features $3 house-flavored vodkas, house wines and apps, and $4 beers. For $5 try the Marusya Gold, a fizzy, long-legged blonde of a cocktail made with cherry vodka and champagne.

Meritage
410 Saint Peter St. • 651-222-5670 • www.meritage-stpaul.com

You know what they say about oysters. So, the next time you grab happy hour with your secret co-worker crush ... OK, that's creepy. But oysters are delicious and only $3 a pair at this French restaurant from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. St. Paul's slice of Paris also offers $3.50 taps, a $4 wine and $5.50 cocktail feature, and assorted $5-$8 eats.

Barrio
235 E. 6th St. • 651-222-3250 • www.barriotequila.com

Whether it's the oceanside aesthetic or tequila's party-booze connotation, nothing chases away cares like a margarita. For better or worse, house margaritas at the Lowertown tequila bar are only $5 (as are sangrias) from 3-6 p.m. weekdays, along with $3 Dos Equis and rails, and discounted South-of-the-border bites. Be discreet with your workplace invites unless someone's driving your soccer-mom co-worker home.

SUBURBS

With plenty of first- and second-ring employers, an urban ZIP code isn't a prereq for solid happy hour specials. Don't sleep on these Applebee's alternatives.

Figlio
5331 W. 16th St., St. Louis Park • 952-345-2400 • www.figlio.com

Since its September relaunch in the West End, Figlio 2.0 has made a splash, and happy hour remains a core component. Weekdays from 3-6 p.m. (with an extra hour on Mondays), take tiered taps from $3-$5, $4 house drinks, $5 wines and $4-$6 apps. A $5 Old Fashioned with house-infused cherry bourbon and maraschino brandy wows among wholesale specialty drinks.

Crave
1603 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park • 952-933-6500 • www.craveamerica.com

The Crave restaurant empire makes a theme of encompassing happy hours, and the West End location is no exception. Amid the shopping/entertainment complex and with no shortage of nearby offices, Crave is an easy and affordable leisure-time kickoff. Weekdays from 3-6 p.m. various eats and beers run from $3-$5, plus $5 house wines, rails, sake and specialty cocktails.

Cowboy Jack's
2801 Southlawn Dr., Bloomington • 952-955-8137 • www.theaftermidnightgroup.com

Not far from Best Buy HQ, this cowboy bar offers some of the best after-work steals in the south metro. With $2 select beers and drinks, $3 house wines and half-priced assorted apps, the only bull during Jack's 3-6 p.m. daily happy hour is the mechanical one. Coax Mary Anne from Accounting into riding the robotic bovine after she gets a little "loosey goosey" off vodka crans.

Parma 8200
5600 W. 83rd St., Bloomington • 952-896-8888 • www.parma8200.com

Nestled in the 8200 Tower, this D'Amico-owned spot brings an urban flair to an area with few non-sterile happy hour offerings (Poor Richard's, anyone?). Sleek ambience aside, Parma's post-punch-out prices also score favorably, with $3 wines, rails, taps and signature "Tiny Tinis," plus $3-$5 snacks. Who says suburbs can't have style? 

Axel's Bonfire
1555 Cliff Rd., Eagan • 651-452-0200 • www.axelsbonfire.com

Unfortunately for thousands of Thomson Reuters employees, Eagan isn't exactly a drinking and dining mecca. But Axel's Bonfire stands out among a sea of Doolittle's types and something called Red Robin. Get your discounted drink on second-ring style with $2 price dips on all drinks weekdays from 3-6 p.m. and half-off appetizers and pizzas.