Bradstreet, Solera, and more: Happy hours for grownups

Drink like an adult on a college kid's budget

Happy Gnome
498 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651.287.2018, thehappygnome.com

You'll likely encounter a few baseball-hatted barfolk at the Happy Gnome, but it's still the classiest craft brew spot in the Twin Cities. The Gnome's bottle list is so long it comes in a three-ring binder, and the endless-seeming tap lines decorate the bar like strings of Christmas lights. The list includes cult beers such as Vermont's Magic Hat #9 and Belgium's Delirium Tremens, along with likely many beers you've never encountered: Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial, New Holland Dragon's Milk, or Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA, for starters. One of my favorites is Leinenkugel's Big Eddy, a limited-run Russian Imperial Stout that's no longer being produced. The Happy Gnome tapped a stash they've been barrel-aging for a couple of years, and it's delightful: smooth and complex, with hints of molasses and coffee, more like port than beer. Happy hour runs Mon.-Fri. from 4-6 p.m., with $1 off any drink.

For Wine

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe
415 First St. N., Minneapolis, 612.333.4305, www.toastwinebarandcafe.com

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Location Info

Map

Prohibition

821 Marquette Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Bradstreet Craftshouse

601 First Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Cafe Maude

5411 Penn Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

The Lexington

1096 Grand Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Macalester/Groveland

The Happy Gnome

498 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

Toast Wine Bar & Cafe

415 N. First St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Barbette

1600 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Solera Restaurant & Event Center

900 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar

700 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

123 N. 3rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Barrio Tequila Bar & Cafe

925 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

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Toast has both a great wine list and a staff that loves to share its knowledge—owners Scott Davis and Erin Tomczyk are often behind the bar—and will be happy to offer a sample if you're having trouble deciding between, say, a California or Italian red. If you're tired of hit-or-miss "house" wines, simply order one of the cracker-crust pizzas—I like the one with olives, artichokes, red peppers, goat cheese, spinach, and provolone, for one—and that second glass of Oregon's Elk Cove Pinot Noir comes gratis, saving you $10. Toast's Heritage Landing location can be tricky to find, but it offers plenty of patio seating and views of both downtown and the new Target Field sign, so I'd recommend getting in before the games begin. On Tues.-Sun, glasses of wine are two-for-one with a pizza order, between 5-6 p.m.

For Romance

Barbette
1600 W. Lake St. Minneapolis, 612.827.5710, www.barbette.com

Before the most eligible bachelor I know recently committed himself to just one lady, Barbette was his go-to date spot. During the late-night happy hour, the lights are low, the eclectic art looks beguilingly moody, and the corner booths are perfect for a tête-à-tête. Five bucks buys eminently sharable fare, such as oysters, mussels, and skinny pommes frites with lemon-herb aioli, or one of the paté-and-Brie or fruit-and-cheese plates. The je ne sais quois is up to you. Barbette's happy hour runs from 3-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 p.m.-close Sun.-Thurs. Select appetizers are $5, house wine and bubbly or domestic taps are $4, and PBR (if you must...) is $3.

For Tapas

Solera
900 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, 612.338.0062, www.solera-restaurant.com

Never experienced a Tim McKee menu because you thought you had to shell out at least $65 at La Belle Vie? Then get down to LBV's Spanish sister, Solera, where you can sample tapas plates for as little as $2. You can have a glass of sangria and two snacks for the price of a McDonald's value meal; it's the edible equivalent of the designer dress rack at Opitz Outlet. I like the spicy chorizo slider topped with roasted pepper and remoulade and the crispy croquetas with their gooey, shrimp-flecked centers. Both of them cost roughly the equivalent of a grocery-store sample—but you'll eat with actual silverware instead of a toothpick. I'm not sure the prices can even cover the cost of washing the dishes, so make sure to tip well. Solera's happy hour runs from 5-6 p.m. on weekdays, 9 p.m.-midnight Tues.-Sun., and 10 p.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.

For Sushi

Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar
700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612.238.7777, www.7mpls.com

The only reason I see to keep Block E around is that its flashing lights and billboards add even more energy to Seven's already pulsing upstairs dining room. Seven attracts one of downtown's most diverse and well-dressed crowds, noshing on sushi like it was going out of style—though surely it never will. During happy hour, Seven's basic California, Philly, and Spicy Tuna rolls are $4 a pop, and the pricey "specialty" rolls are discounted about 50 percent. The titular Seven roll, for example, made with shrimp tempura, cucumber, and tuna, is a steal at $7. The White Ninja costs $10, but its roundhouse of spicy tuna, asparagus, avocado, and sesame chili oil packs a more powerful kick. Plus, you can also order steakhouse selections such as oysters, calamari, and beef carpaccio. Seven's happy hour food specials are offered Mon.-Fri., from 4-6:30 p.m.

For Mezze

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
123 Third St. N., Minneapolis, 612.746.5533, www.saffronmpls.com

My favorite thing on Saffron's Middle-Eastern bar-food menu is a two-bite beaut of a lamb-bacon BLT: The bacon is crisp and gamey, more like jerky than belly, and tucked between toast with a smear of smart tomato jam, arugula, and tarragon. But there are also meatballs, samosas, and French fries with feta fondue, as well as Lebanese arak, an anise-flavored liquor that transforms from cloudy to clear when the server adds a splash of water. It's interesting, but the Harissa Mary goes better with the food. Happy hour is Mon.-Fri. from 4-6 p.m. and Fri.-Sat from 11 p.m.-1 a.m., with $5 glasses of wine and specialty cocktails, $2-$3 beers, and $3.50 appetizers.

For Margaritas

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