Cruising the Sweet 16th

Nikki BuchananMarch 2019
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Photography by Isabella Castillo

Score a high-toned happy hour deal on one of the Valley’s premier dining rues.

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Richardson’s

6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix
602-265-5886, richardsonsnm.com
Richardson Browne opened the first iteration of this neighborhood stalwart in 1988, and when it burned to the ground two decades later, he built an exact replica just up the street. Richardson’s has long been loved for its generously portioned, chile-jacked food, but at happy hour, reduced-price appetizers are a meal-worthy bargain. Pig out on a trio of juicy, spice-sparked New Mexican pork sausages, sided with creamy, oniony pintos and a warm, griddled flour tortilla ($10), or mow through another threesome of carne adovada sliders, crammed with luscious pork, green chile and cheese ($12). Chipotle ribs, nested atop wonderfully fluffy rice, are just as good as the other two ($10), especially with bloodies, mimosas, house drinks, margs and selected wines by the glass, priced at $6 both at happy hour and for lunch. 3-6 p.m., 9 p.m.-close daily.

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Phoenix City Grille

5816 N. 16th St., Phoenix
602-266-3001, phoenixcitygrille.com
PCG is a Central Phoenix institution, breathed to life in 1997 by owner Sheldon Knapp, who created a cool, clubby hangout with vintage photos of Phoenix. Many of the same sophisticated, chef-y dishes found on the regular menu are offered at reduced prices during happy hour. Eggplant bites are one striking example: ultra-crispy eggplant patties strewn with arugula, tomato jam, red pepper relish and clumps of goat cheese, the plate dappled with balsamic ($6). For something heartier, there’s spicy, slow-simmered green chile pork ($12). For sheer indulgence, nothing beats the bacon-wrapped Mexican shrimp, stuffed with cotija cheese and dunked in chipotle aioli ($8 for two). Good wines by the glass priced at $7, house martinis at $8, well cocktails and premium drafts at $5 make the hour that much happier. 3 p.m.-close M-Tu; 3-6 p.m. W-Su.

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Barrio Cafe

2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix
602-636-0240, barriocafe.com
Chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza opened tiny but mighty Barrio Cafe in 2002, which has turned into a beloved neighborhood standby and a destination, offering a sublimely simple happy hour founded upon half-price cocktails and buck-fifty tacos. Margarita options include the faintly spicy La Picocita infused with chile de árbol, ($6) and the slurp-able Sergio el Suave made with pineapple, cilantro and candied jalapeño ($6). Given the ridiculously inexpensive tacos, you’ll want to order all five. Beer-battered shrimp and fish come with cabbage and avocado, both spooned with spicy Baja aioli. Meat options include grilled carne asada and the restaurant’s signature cochinita pibil, and there’s a cheesy, satisfying vegetarian option, topped with onion and a sauté of poblano peppers. 2-5 p.m. Tu-Sa.

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