Hell's Kitchen: The happiest hour

Hell's Kitchen, 80 South 9th Street, Mpls.,612.332.4700 website

Hours: Monday-Friday, 3 to 6, and Sunday

Details: Beer specials: $2-$4, rail drinks: $3.75, wine: $4, select specialty drinks: $5.50, and a plethora of appetizers priced from $3-$5 

Venue: Heading down the stairs into the "lair" of Hell's Kitchen bar and dining room is like being part of a secret society; entering the room with the exposed brick walls, decorated in jeweled tones of red, sheer curtains as room dividers, and the artsy glass chandeliers twinkling above, together creates a sweet bordello-vibe. These digs are swanky, yet welcoming, the atmosphere slightly decadent-- like it would be so easy to stay for "just one more."

Verdict: Nice selection of beer including Stella Artois and Mardeous. The cocktails are inventive, seasonal infusions and crafty concoctions including non-alcoholic versions. The food selection is extensive, unlike many places, numerous items sounded good, making it hard to select just a few. The garlic-teriyaki   chicken wings, priced at $4, were a fantastic deal--fat and delicious, comprised of both the wing and drummy; these were messy to eat, but cave-man fabulous (however, not the best choice for a first date.) Also recommended: the calamari with jalapeno aeoli--light, crisp and a generous portion--the mussels swimming in a gentle white wine and adobe sauce, and their sweet potato fries always get the thumbs up.
Our bartender was uber-friendly, and took the time to make us feel welcome, even though he was super busy. The verdict is in: this is one hell of a happy hour.