Find your felicidad at these bargain-minded Valley cantinas.

La Hora Mágica

Written by Shelby Moore Category: Happy Hour Issue: August 2017
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Photo by Isabella Castillo.
Casa Añejo
5600 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
480-588-2908, casaanejo.com
The team behind Central Phoenix’s Stock & Stable didn’t look far to sprout its latest concept, planting Casa Añejo on the lot next door. With display windows wrapping around a centerpiece bar, the upscale cantina affords guests plenty to look at while they enjoy the salt-rimmed stars of happy hour: $5 margaritas discounted generously from $12. The mango variety with the Tajín chile rim is the most complex of the bunch, but the kiwi is great, too – tropical yet pleasantly mild. For something unique, the berry hibiscus is a fruity, spiked spin on a glass of floral jamaica agua fresca (hibiscus juice). A mi casa es su casa mentality sees that you’re fed right, with plates of spicy chorizo heaped over eggplant and fingerling potatoes ($5, down from $7), crunchy, freshly fried chicharrónes coated in Cholula, and two-buck-off caramel corn laced with bacon powder and chipotle. You know, if you like some heat with your sweet. 3-6 p.m. M-Su.
 
Photo by Isabella Castillo.
Chico Malo
50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
602-603-9363, chicomalo.com
This cavernous cantina in the CityScape complex sits courtside to the bustle of Downtown’s nightlife locales and big-ticket event venues. You hear that, sports fans? This “bad boy” restaurant has all the big-screen TVs and $5 happy hour house margaritas (marked down from $11) you’ll need to make it to the ninth inning. Spruced up with vanilla and kaffir lime, the marg pairs outstandingly with light-as-air, chicharrónes and elote ($5, down from $7) – the latter coated in popcorn-flavored butter and aji chile-studded mayo, with a charred lemon to squeeze over every bite. You’ll also want to seek out refreshment with a happy hour exclusive: cool, lime-cooked shrimp ceviche, mixed with ripe red tomatoes and hefty cubes of avocado, all lumped onto two – maybe three – bite-size tostadas ($5). 3-6 p.m. M-Su. 
 
Photo by Isabella Castillo.
Ladera
8729 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
602-606-2258, laderaphx.com
The north-central Phoenix neighborhood of Sunnyslope isn’t the restaurant hot spot that Central Phoenix and Arcadia have become, but that didn’t stop the guys at Genuine Concepts – best known for The Vig empire – from realizing the area could use a little fiesta firepower. Enter Ladera, a lovely little cantina-style restaurant with a charming bar and lush, shaded patio. Snack away on chunky guac sprinkled with roasted pepitas and salty cotija cheese ($6.50, down from $10), and enjoy spoonfuls of creamy chipotle aioli elote ($5) shaved off the cob and dusted with chile powder. Meanwhile, cool off with the coldest drink in town, a $3-off frozen piña colada – made smoky from the inclusion of Oaxacan mezcal – delivered via a whirring slushie machine. Too fun? For something stirred to sip on, the El Santo ($5, down from $9) is no schlub, marrying tangy and earthy tamarind with reliable Old Grand-Dad bourbon. 3-6 p.m. M-F. 
 

 

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