Cheap after-work eats aplenty at Azia, Saffron, Pop!!, and more

Get more bang for your buck at some of the city's best happy hours

VINCENT
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Vincent's fancy French fare is highly regarded and priced accordingly. But in the less formal yet still sophisticated bar next to the austere dining room, early birds can feast like kings without blowing the castle mortgage payment. Eight dollars might not seem like a bargain for a hamburger, but when the burger in question is Vincent's famed short-rib-and-gouda-stuffed version, it's a hell of a deal. Select small plates are on offer for only $4, including fish tempura with ginger-basil sauce and a tasty, toasty flatbread with smoked chicken, caramelized onions, blue cheese, and red grapes. And champagne cocktails for five dollars each can add a celebratory air to any early evening. Santé! (1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612.630.1189; www.vincentarestaurant.com)

ORIGAMI
5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily

The very, very happy hour at Pop!! in St. Paul
Fred Petters
The very, very happy hour at Pop!! in St. Paul

Location Info

Map

Otho Restaurant and Street Lounge

949 Portland Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Restaurant > Bar Food

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Azia Restaurant

2550 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

123 N. 3rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Minneapolis's original great Japanese restaurant is still top-notch, and Origami's happy hour is an excellent place to get high-quality sushi at a bargain. Served in the restaurant's sleek second-floor lounge, the nightly specials here draw a diverse crowd—professionals unwinding, colleagues rehashing, couples flirting. It's easy to switch from working to relaxing while enjoying a Chu-Hi, a mixed drink with Japanese vodka, club soda or tea, and your choice of fruit-flavored liqueurs (the mango is quite good). House wines are $3 a glass, and there are beer and sake specials as well. But the happy-hour food menu is the real draw here. A $6.75 combo comes with three pieces of chef's choice sashimi, plus your choice of spicy tuna, yellowtail, or salmon roll—no way to make a wrong decision there. Non-sushi options include chicken gyoza (pot stickers) and ebi shumai (large steamed shrimp dumplings), both delicious and $3.75 apiece. For the same price, a more adventurous and equally palate-pleasing option is the tako sensai, octopus salad with sweet rice vinegar. (30 N. First St., Minneapolis, 612.333.8430; www.origamirestaurant.com)

SAJI YA
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Another old-school Twin Cities sushi place still holding its own, Saji Ya has a bar area that's comfortably dark and serene, with lots of black and dark red, plus gold-accented purple wall art. It's a welcome contrast to the ever-chipper vibe of Grand Avenue, from which the restaurant is set back a bit as if to disassociate itself from the bustling shoppers and packs of roaming college kids. The sushi chefs here turn out perfect rolls, and you can try a variety for a pittance during happy hour. Some of the offerings for $5 each include California and Dynamite rolls, while simpler rolls go for even lower prices, like the tasty $3.50 tuna rolls. Bar discounts include $5 glasses of wine, sake specials, and $3 rail cocktails. (695 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, 651.292.0444; www.sajiya.com)

THE NOOK
8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday

Decidedly lower-brow than all the preceding, the Nook, near the College of St. Catherine, looks like a dive bar but cooks up some of the best burgers in town. And on Monday nights from 8:30 to 10, you can get one for only a buck. A slightly smaller than usual but still meal-size burger is cooked to a perfect char on the outside but moist within, topped with American cheese, and served on a pillowy bun. Another dollar gets you a basket of thick-cut (but not too thick), skin-on, crisp, seasoned fries, making for a very cheap meal indeed. Wash it down with an ice-cold domestic beer (always reasonably priced here), and between visits with the friendly staff be sure to take a gander at some of the many photos crammed onto the bar's walls, from team pictures of neighborhood buddies to signed portraits of celebrities like the guy who played Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver. (492 Hamline Ave. S., St Paul; 651.698.4347) 

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