Social Studies

It is a happy, happy thing indeed that the happy hour endures

Consider, for a moment, all of the things the late lamented Sex and the City forced us to rethink: that platitude about size not mattering. The desirability of the Manolo Blahnik for anyone who lives anywhere it ever snows, or for feet expected to walk any farther than to a waiting limo. That breeding is worthy sitcom fodder. That you can consume a river of cosmopolitans night after night and still sport the kind of perky ass that looks cutely sexy in a pair of tighty-whiteys.

We can all agree that no one, male or female, looks cutely sexy in Fruit of the Looms, can't we? And that the sudden popularity of Uggs, albeit during Indian summer and in conjunction with the miniskirt, is arguably minimal progress.

All of which really goes nowhere. Except that we've been mulling over the happy hour, and pondering whether humankind--young, single humankind, anyhow--really can go out night after night, or if everything about Carrie and her impossibly clever friends was a big, fat, glam lie.

Lyle's: Two-for-ones, whether you want two or not
Nathan Grumdahl
Lyle's: Two-for-ones, whether you want two or not

Location Info


Imperial Room

417 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Solera Restaurant & Event Center

900 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

We've concluded that you can, in fact, more or less live on the town--largely because the happy hour endures. Indeed in some quarters it flourishes, thanks in no small part to the more ambitious nature of Twin Cities dining in general. Certainly you can still get a half-price Beam-Coke and .10 wings. And you can find an astounding array of creative, filling preparations of the lowly potato. But you can also find outrageous deals on everything from all-you-can-eat sushi to Spanish tapas so inventive they've been featured in the glossy foodie mags, and at prices that allow the more social animals among us to prowl the streets, night after night, without going broke. How long our asses stay perky under such a regimen remains to be seen, but we think we can beat Carrie's six seasons.


25 N. Fourth St.; Minneapolis; 612.338.2255

Has anyone but me noticed the gross inflation of pool table costs during the last decade? Not so long ago, you could walk into pretty much any bar in the country, plunk down two quarters, and shoot a lazy game of eight or nine ball. But somewhere around the mid-'90s--undoubtedly in an act of collusion on the part of saloon owners and pool-table retailers nationwide--the price rapidly escalated: $.75, $1, $1.50! I've contemplated writing letters to various dignitaries in Washington, D.C., demanding an investigation into this price-fixing scheme. Or organizing fellow victims for a "Million Pool Player March" on the Capitol. But I realize that these efforts would be futile. The liquor and pool lobbies are simply too powerful and entrenched. For now I'll be content to shoot pool at City Billiards. That's because on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., and on Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., it's absolutely free. The dozen tables are a little banged up, the felt a little loose, but they're still superior to 90 percent of the bar greens in town. And the booze is almost as cheap during those hours: $2.50 pints (except Guinness, which is $3) and $2.75 well drinks. --Paul Demko


2021 Hennepin Ave.; Minneapolis; 612.870.8183

My favorite newspaper correction in recent memory stemmed from a Star Tribune story about Liquor Lyle's, as the bar is popularly known. The errant article had stated that Lyle's did not have any TV screens. Unfortunately, as the correction duly noted, the redoubtable Uptown watering hole has 11 televisions. It's understandable, however, how the reporter could have made such a mistake: She undoubtedly ended her night of editorial research passed out on the bathroom floor gargling her own vomit. Lyle's, you see, is a very, very dangerous bar. Especially at happy hour. And there are many, many happy hours at Lyle's. Every day, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., every drink in the house--Guinness, Jim Beam, cosmopolitans, whatever--is two for the price of one. Order one, receive two--and don't try to protest otherwise. Then from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., for those who insist on eating actual food, all appetizers are half-price. But the true miracle of Lyle's happy hour is from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. During those hours of peak alcohol consumption, the two-for-one special makes a glorious, terrifying, liver-destroying return. I defy anyone to ride out an entire happy hour shift at Lyle's and drive home legally.--Paul Demko

1333 Nicollet Mall. Minneapolis; 612.339.0540

The sushi bar at Ichiban ("number one" in Japanese) may not be the cheapest happy hour deal in town, but it's still the best bargain out there for lovers of elegantly cut raw fish. From 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., weekdays only, the tab for an hour's seating at the oval-shaped sushi bar is just $23. Ichiban's sushi is consistently some of the freshest around. The spread at the bar (where the food goes circling past on boats floating in a mini-moat) includes a full complement of basic cuts as well as solid renderings of the combination rolls Americans love so much. If you tip the chef--and probably if you don't--he or she will be happy to prepare custom rolls for you, provided the joint's not too busy. Ichiban doesn't feature any after-work drink specials, but if you can't consume enough to make this a remarkably good deal, you have no business cruising happy hour spreads in the first place--you're only getting in the way of professionals. --Steve Perry
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