Hotel Monaco, 1101 Fourth Ave, 206-624-7755
Outlier is the snazzy new restaurant at Hotel Monaco that replaces Sazerac, an ancient dinosaur of a restaurant that served up reliably good Cajun fare until its last days. I am happy to report that Outlier is a worthy successor. In fact, I'd say the place is more than just worthy—it's downright amazing.
First of all, no single happy hour item costs more than $6, except wine, and for what you get, $6 is a steal. The fact that they also offer a quality manhattan for $6 is also very dangerous. Their chèvre-stuffed, tempura-fried squash blossoms are insanely good. Their duck confit banh mi, served on a plush, pillowy baguette, will keep that three-manhattan day from turning into a very bad night. I was also blown away by a simple walnut pesto dish, which was seasoned to absolute perfection and served with soft sections of flatbread. Their elote is not a dish you should eat while on a date, but I went with my roommate and thus had zero problem with getting their delicious lime-spiked cotija aioli all over my cheeks.
In older cities, hotel restaurants that are also really good restaurants are actually a thing. Seattle hasn't historically had the same good luck, aside from the early days of Lola and, more recently, Miller's Guild. Outlier, however, is an actual outlier. Indeed, it may be one of my favorite new restaurants, hotel or no hotel.
Happy hour is 2 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and includes $3 oysters, $5 to $6 appetizers, $6 cocktails, $7 glass pours, and $5 drafts.
Arctic Club Hotel, 700 Third Ave, 206-631-8080
Juno is a great place to go when you want happy hour to be happy dinner; their "Bar Bites" menu is half off, and they've got $5 wells, wines, and drafts. None of the food is amazing, but all of it is decent, and their chili glazed chicken wings are pretty damn good and spicy. More importantly, everything is enormous and rich. Fried cheese curds with a marinara-esque dipping sauce? Check. Truffle salt fries, that lovely throwback to the early-'00's "truffle oil on everything" craze? Check. Particularly large smoked salmon tacos, their big pile of definitely-not-house-smoked fish topped with tomato chunks and a moderately spicy aioli? Check. Indeed, my companion, for whom they became a full meal, marveled, "The tacos are so fat that they're propped up by a metal tray—I've never seen that!" At Juno, such wonders abound!
Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and includes $5 drafts, glass pours, and wells, and half off "Bar Bites."
Mayflower Park Hotel, 405 Olive Way, 206-623-8700
For martinis, this is the place to go. Oliver's doesn't offer drink specials for happy hour, instead going with the old-school option: feeding patrons free snacks to soak up the booze. It's unexciting but honest fare: veggies and dip, chicken wings, chips and guacamole, sliders, and the like. That said, even at $12-plus per drink, your tab will be comparable to other happy hour options, and you'll be both full and tipsy.
How best to get tipsy? Of course the martini is amazing—it's their claim to fame. But my choice would be absinthe, as they serve it in the traditional French style, fountain, spoon, and all. I also highly recommend Oliver's for any private business dealings you may need to conduct. There is a large pillar obtruding into the bottom section of the restaurant, and the tables behind it have maximum privacy. Also, it's in the old-timey Mayflower Park Hotel, Seattle's oldest continuously operating lodging. You'll feel like a Chicago mob boss, even if you're just meeting that one obnoxiously fit friend who can't shut up about yoga.
Happy hour is 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and includes free snacks.
Hotel Sorrento, 900 Madison St, 206-343-6156
Like Oliver's, this feels like the kind of place where captains of industry and criminal masterminds orchestrated coups and made fortunes. According to the Sorrento's website, the site used to be a "billiards hall," then "a Filipino restaurant decked out in puka shells," then, for several decades, the Hunt Club. But according to the history, the Sorrento's dining space was known as the Dunbar Room from 1961 to 1964, and that's what it's called again today.
In a juxtaposition that is oh-so-Seattle, the heavily tattooed, aggressively attractive waitstaff wear old-timey starched white shirts and suspenders, moving quietly and efficiently through the hotel's well-appointed Fireside Room to take orders and deliver three-tiered metal towers of snacks (the snacks are $9 each or $24 for a tower of three). The place is not known for its kitchen, so I ordered cheese, charcuterie, and oysters. Twenty-four bucks might seem steep for happy hour, but wait until you get a tower laden with prosciutto di Parma, smooth-shelled Kusshi oysters, and a more-than-generous hunk of Humboldt Fog.
As for drinks, the Vesper was bracingly dry, with a perfectly subtle note of Lillet Blanc, instead of a cacophony. Sitting on a couch by the fireplace, reading an engrossing novel, and munching on blue-cheese-laden rosemary crackers, it was pretty obvious why the Silent Reading Party happens here the first Wednesday of every month.
Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. daily and 10 to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, rotating cocktails are $9, wine $7, and beer $4.
Hotel Max, 612 Stewart St, 206-443-3663
Miller's Guild is where chef Jason Wilson landed after his beloved restaurant Crush closed. Miller's Guild is known for its wine selection, as well as its enormous wood-fired oven dubbed "the Inferno." The happy hour at Miller's Guild is an accessible way to get yourself a steak from within its fiery confines. Specifically, a nice bavette steak from Niman Ranch accompanied by beef-fat fries for a mere $21. Being a dolt, I ordered one of the few things on the menu not subjected to the Inferno's molten embrace, the Wagyu tartare, and was left wishing I'd jumped into the fire. The tartare was fine, but the butter-soaked rye toasts it was served with stole the show. Perhaps they could offer the toasts as a stand-alone dish? I'd pay $5 for a dozen.
Happy hour wine is $7 across the board (red/white/rosé) and is dependably good. Ambience-wise, there are a couple cool dividers stuffed with logs (not sure if they're for show or if they actually power the Inferno), a pretty snazzy chef's counter you won't be invited to sit at if you're headed to the bar to save bucks, and, if you're someone who likes to work after work and drink while you do it, a window counter with convenient and plentiful plug-ins.
Happy hour is 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. daily and includes $7 wine, $5 beer, and snacks ranging from $6 to $21.
Four Seasons Hotel, 99 Union St, 206-749-7070
You can easily drop as much at Goldfinch Tavern's happy hour as you would for, say, a lavish dinner for two at Ba Bar or Cafe Presse. But it's not completely unreasonable ($1.50 an oyster if you spring for a dozen, which, astonishingly, meets the Athenian's happy hour price), and it's downright delicious.
While the $10 bowl of albacore poke—tossed with seaweed, sesame, pine nuts, scallions, and serrano chilies—is tiny, it is also a delightfully tangy, tender umami bomb, and well worth every penny. The smoked fish crostini are a better value at $8 for three small toasts with liberal scoops of salty, smooth smoked whitefish. There are also $5 fries, served with a superlatively silky dill aioli. As for drinks, the Americano ($8) was made with a precise touch on the sweet vermouth, leaving it as perfectly bitter as I hoped it to be. My companion was similarly pleased with her $8 glass of big, bold Washington red.
Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. daily; wine/cocktails are $7 to $8 each, beer is $4 to $5, oysters are $2 each or a dozen for $18, snacks range from $5 to $13.
Inn at the Market, 1600 Post Alley, 206-728-2233
Cafe Campagne deigning to have a happy hour is proof that Bacchus exists and is watching out for us. Located in the lower level of the Inn at the Market complex, Daisley Gordon's Pike Place Market mainstay offers a perfectly curated food menu and some mad decent French wines for mad decent prices. All glasses are $6, including non-vintage brut, and they offer bottles (red or white) for $32. That's not Cafe Presse Vin Expresse prices, but I'm happy to pay a little more for the privilege of sitting on Campagne's alley patio and watching all the tourists scurry by while sipping a lovely, un-oaked chard from Mâcon.
The menu is simple and to the point, and it sticks to the French classics. They offer pâté sandwiches served cold on tiny pastry-puff buns; a slider version of their excellent lamb burger; moules marinière; those addictive beef skewers from their yearly Bastille Day fete; and socca, a perfectly pliant chickpea pancake slathered in salty, piquant black olive tapenade. There's a reason this place has earned the city's undying adoration.
Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; cocktails are $8, wine is $6 a glass or $16 for a half liter, beer is $4, snacks range from $5 to $12.
Hotel Ändra, 2000 Fourth Ave, 206-441-1430
Lola is a happy hour powerhouse par excellence. Located in the swanky Hotel Ändra, its bar has long attracted the sports-jacket-and-jeans after-work crowd, who come for the cheap skewers and top-notch martinis. When the bar is really rocking, they assign a cocktail server to the lobby, so you can get cozy on the couches by the fireside, too—nice in wintertime.
Regrettably, I did not order the saganaki when I visited, so don't know if they light it on fire and yell "Opa!" as they used to do at the Byzantion on Broadway. They do, however, bring your skewers in a traditional saganaki pan, and theatrically deglaze it with ouzo. I had the squid, a tough protein to get right, but get it right they did. The lightly charred cephalopods were perfectly supple, eminently flavorful, and well accompanied by the ouzo-basted onions. I think it's safe to say that if they're nailing the squid, the other skewers are probably equally on point.
There's cheap Greek lager ($4.25), but that aforementioned martini is a steal at $7.50. The gin-soaked, feta-stuffed olive awaiting you at the bottom is the perfect thing to cap off happy hour.
Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; cocktails are $6.50–$7.50, wine $6.50, beer $4.25, snacks range from $4.25 to $7.50.