Creaking doors, mysterious voices and pernicious pasts make some local watering holes a magnet for seekers of the strange. But even the staunchest skeptic won’t stand a ghost of a chance against these hauntingly good happy hours.
202 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Restaurateur Lan Tran of Rice Paper exorcised the ghost of failed restaurants past when she unveiled this French-influenced Vietnamese eatery on the ground floor of the historic Hotel San Carlos late last year. Belying the hotel’s macabre history, including the 1928 suicide of 22-year-old Leone Jensen, Bonjour Vietnam’s funky sedge hat ceiling art and sky-colored walls have a calming influence. It’s easy to relax at happy hour, when signature cocktails such as the coffee Thaitini and Vietnamese Spiked Punch with Absolut Pears, DeKuyper Ginger, OJ and muddled pepper will set you back just $6 each. Appetizers and spring rolls are $2 off, and wells are $4. Pair $2.75 craft drafts with traditional, vegetarian and soft-shell crab spring rolls ($5-$7.50), or wax français with a glass of $5 house wine and silky foie gras ($7). Drinks: 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily; food: 3-6:30 p.m. daily.
Casey Moore’s Oyster House
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe
It’s little wonder the 1910 bungalow at 9th Street & Ash inspires ghastly thoughts – despite lovely leaded glass windows, the inside is as dark as a tomb. Legend has it that the ghost of a strangled girl haunts Casey Moore’s upper floor, which might explain why so many locals drown their sorrows in pints of Smithwick’s Irish Red and Sierra Nevada IPA at the rickety wooden bar below. Or maybe it’s just the allure of eerily low beer prices, which typically run $3 to $4 a pint. All drafts, well drinks and wines are a buck off during happy hour. Oysters have the starring role here, but guests can also score $2 off starters like fried chicken fingers ($6), potato skins ($5) and buttery escargot served in mushroom caps ($7). 3-7 p.m. M-F, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sa-Su.
The Stockyards Restaurant
5009 E. Washington St., Phoenix
The ghosts of Phoenix’s cattle ranching past are alive and kicking inside this steakhouse’s 1889 Saloon, a Wild West-style watering hole with swinging doors, crystal chandeliers and an ornate cherry-stained mahogany bar by noted woodworker Russ Kapp. Rest your spurs on a carved stool and enjoy $5 house wine, $3 domestic bottles and $4 well drinks during happy hour. Buckaroos also score $2 off drafts and bargain nibbles including prime rib tacos ($6), steak burger with fries ($10) or Rocky Mountain oysters with cocktail sauce ($12). The apparition of cattle magnate Edward Tovrea’s widow is rumored to appear near the mural of a mysterious lady in red, but complimentary happy hour chips and steak sliders make it worth any potential fright. Saloon only. 4-7 p.m.
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