Fast-growing Gilbert has experienced a major culinary awakening – with upscale happy hours to match.
335 N. Gilbert Rd.
Tucked behind mothership O.H.S.O., this cozy, book-themed nook – replete with murals of female authors like J.K. Rowling and Charlotte Brontë – is perfectly timed to our current grrrrl-power moment. It’s also a chill retreat for non-scenesters. Select wines, local beer pitchers and craft cocktails named after books (like the lip-smacking, jalapeño-muddled, mezcal-based Goblet of Fire) are all priced at $7, as are creative happy hour nibbles. Browse through “devilish” eggs, topped with nubbins of smoked trout and candied bacon; dive into warm, creamy queso blanco dip, sided with spicy Spanish chorizo and garlic bread; then curl up with poke bites – a Japanese chip-and-dip of raw tuna, seaweed salad, daikon and more heaped atop aioli-smeared wonton crackers. The best deal for light eaters: a $10 drink and starter special, which promises a satisfying plot twist. 4-6 p.m. M-F.
The Brass Tap
313 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert
It’s all about the suds at this easygoing beer bar and restaurant, which features 300 craft (and sub-craft) beers from around the globe, along with an aspiring beer-lover’s online crash course dubbed Beer 101 on its website. During happy hour, select pints go for $4 and draft flights for $7. Or skip the beer altogether and jump-start the afternoon with a $3 shot of beginner-friendly booze – say, a Fireball or a Payday. Happy hour eats are mostly predictable – pretzels, tacos, nachos and the like – so a handful of Southern options comes as a pleasant surprise: ultra-simple pimento cheese, served with crispy house-baked pita chips (the real deal, $4); commendably light and crunchy house-made hushpuppies, paired with spicy aioli ($5); and a Southern stack of deep-fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and poblano sauce ($5). 4-7 p.m. M-F.
Divided Vine Beer & Wine Bar
861 N. Higley Rd., Gilbert
This low-key, bro-free spot specializing in beer and wine (the “divided vine” being hops and grapes, we’re guessing) is way more charming than its strip mall location suggests. Drink deals abound, including $2-off pints, cans and bottles, and wine by the glass, and $6-off wine by the bottle. Both taps and wine selections rotate weekly, and servers readily offer samples before you commit. There’s no price reduction on signature hand-held pasties, but who cares when the crusts are flaky perfection, the portions enough for a light meal? Don’t miss the El Cubano (essentially a minced Cuban sandwich) or green chile pork ($8). House popcorn in interesting flavors (example: maple garlic, $3) is just right for snackers who’d rather drink and play games (maybe dominos or Trivial Pursuit) while they eat. 2-7 p.m. daily.