“Y mi iré con el sol cuando muera la tarde…”
The afternoon isn’t yet dying, the sun not yet leaving when happy hour starts at Mi Tierra’s Mariachi Bar. But then you likely don’t really want to start drinking at 3. Wait until about 5: 30 p.m. You’ll still have an hour to go (happy hour runs 3:30 to 6:30 Monday through Friday), and the guayabera-clad trio may well have started serenading. Their voices give the impression of having been cured together over the years, much like an extra-añejo tequila. They are one of the best reasons to head to this timeless institution with its marvelously over-the-top mariachi décor. They began their set this evening with the Jose Alfredo Jimenez classic “La Media Vuelta,” from which the above lyrics come. Media vuelta, however, means “about face” — and I’m suggesting just the opposite.
Tequila used to be more of a reason to head to the Mariachi Bar. And though the selection is still impressive, there are local bars such as The Esquire Tavern and Mezcalería Mixtli with agave programs that are much more comprehensive. Not surprisingly, the good stuff (say Sauza’s Tres Generaciones at $10.25 a shot) doesn’t put in a happy hour appearance. A house marg, frozen or on the rocks, will set you back $4. But even though the Oro margarita goes for $6 and is made from Cuervo’s Tradicional — a good but not exceptional tequila, it’s worth the step-up.
“It’s better than the house pour,” stated the bartender in matter-of-fact fashion.
If your palate is anything like mine, you may want additional limes wedges for this one, but thus adulterated, the Oro on the rocks merited at least a bronze. And it held up nicely to the end — enough time to finish off a colorful botanas platter composed of chicken flautitas, quesadillas, chalupitas with beans and picadillo and a dab of guacamole sided by sour cream. A little jalapeño-heavy pico de gallo wouldn’t have hurt here, but at $7 it’s hard to complain too vigorously. Queso and guacamole are also available at $6. Import drafts and well drinks are $4.
The ambiente, the trio and the history, however, are all priceless. A poster of Jorge Negrete, “El Charro Cantor,” occupies one wall, another featuring Bill Clinton in running gear that includes a Mi Tierra T-shirt, is the backdrop for the musicians. Where else, I ask, where else… cuando muera la tarde or any other time.
218 Produce Row, (210) 227-7140. -Ron Bechtol
For the Veggies
I visited Alchemy this past Friday around 6:30 p.m.; there were a several people in the restaurant, mostly couples and pairs of friends meeting for drinks and a brief conversation after work. My friend and I took our place at the bar and, once settled, I perused the happy hour menu. The kombucha cocktails are what make Alchemy a unique bar; there are five that they feature and they run $6 a drink during the discounted time, a two dollar discount from regular operating hours. During the happy hour, you can also grab a $5 classic cocktail or glass of wine or a $4 beer.
I tried the Greener Pastures (a vodka-based cocktail using lime and the green tea kombucha), a refreshing twist on a Moscow Mule. Served in a copper mug, it offers a nice change of pace for those that love the classic drink, but want to try something different. My friend ordered an Ode to a Koala Bear (gin, lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus and milk oolong kombucha), it’s a one of a kind drink that you really can’t find anywhere else.
After sitting and enjoying our drinks, we ordered the spring crudites off the happy hour munch menu. The item was recommended to us by the waitress and included hummus, veggies, and bread — a perfect snack to go with your cocktails and the best part is it only sets you back $7. It was great, and it’s one of the more popular items as it is small enough for one person to finish on their own, yet big enough for two people to munch on. The munch menu also offers up potatoes, fried eggplant, burgers, and quail, as well, if hummus just doesn’t float your boat.
1123 N. Flores St., (210) 320-1168. -Erin Winch