Happy Hour Hound: Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar

A boozy, bright prickly pear margarita - MIRIAM SITZ
Miriam Sitz
A boozy, bright prickly pear margarita

There are a lot of things I love about Zinc Bistro & Bar. Its hidden-feeling location, the romantic courtyard … the hamburgers. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that Zinc’s happy hour is just one more thing I love about this downtown gem.

The quiet little sister of Boudro’s, Zinc is tucked away on North Presa—just a short walk north from the small $5 or $6 manned parking lot across from La Villita. Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, cutting prices in half for house specialty cocktails and most shared plates, and knocking the house red and white down to $5 each.

For drinks, the orange blossom martini is a good place to start. Boozy and sweet, the cocktail is a medley of Grey Goose, triple sec and the tiniest splash of orange juice. As the name would suggest, it yields a delicate, flowery orange flavor instead of a strong citrus. For just $4.50, this libation will get your night started quickly. At the same price point, the savory Texas Tini is a smooth, straightforward martini with some fancy garnishes. A pickled green bean and pearly cocktail onion accompany the olive, proving a solid, if understated, departure from the other fairly sweet house cocktails.

The standout happy hour drink here is undoubtedly the prickly pear frozen margarita. Served in a salt and chile-rimmed martini glass, the pale-hued frosty marg is shocked with a dollop of electric pink prickly pear puree. It’s not nearly as saccharine as the color suggests nor as fruity as one might expect; rather, it’s perfectly sweet—and delightfully bright.

After a cocktail or two, it’s high time for a few shared plates. For less than $4, start with the spicy spinach artichoke au gratin. Served in a small oval ramekin with crispy garlic salted pita bread (tasty enough to stand on its own), this savory dip will disappear in about six bites. A creamy white cheddar sauce envelops the artichoke and spinach, with crumbly Parmesan baked on top. A scoop of chunky red poblano pepper mash that tastes noticeably of olives (in a good way) finishes it off. As a shared dish, it’s far too delicious for its size: just big enough to really whet your appetite but still leave you longing for more.

A larger, heartier option is the similarly priced 2-alarm hummus. Two scoops of finely blended chickpeas and tahini are sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and accompanied by a spoonful of roasted red serrano pepper puree. Alone, the hummus is respectable but nothing to write home about. Mixing in the serrano blend and seeds, however, adds a pleasant kick to the garbanzo mash; a warm, middle-of-your-mouth heat punctuated by cool bursts of sweet, fresh pomegranate.

Zinc Bistro & Bar

207 N Presa
(210) 224-2900

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