The Unvegan

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‘Happy Hour’

A Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork

It starts with queso.

There are a few things that you can always assume I will want to try. One is cheese dip and another is gigantic burgers (among other things). So, when I heard that a place called Roaring Fork in Scottsdale had something called the Big Ass Burger, it didn’t take much convincing to get me there. Getting me to eat outside in the middle of the desert summer, on the other hand, was a different story. But such is life when you want to take advantage of what is one of the best happy hours in the Phoenix area.

And while the Big Ass Burger has a nice discount during happy hour, there is also a little something called Queso Con Puerco, which is a cheesy dip that has braised pork mixed in. It comes with tortilla chips for dipping, but I could have easily eaten this stuff by the spoonful. The queso has a perfect thickness and viscosity, while the pork adds a meaty dimension that really every dipping sauce should have. It’s cheesy, porky goodness and it makes the world a better place simply by existing.

As for the Big Ass Burger, it comes topped with smoked pepper bacon, cheddar, poblano pepper, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. And also fries on the side. I ordered without the lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, and at a medium-rare.

Go on, pretend you’ve seen something prettier.

When it arrived, I could immediately tell that it lived up to its name. It was undoubtedly big, and would certainly contribute to the size of my ass. And somehow they found a bun to contain the meat. As I bit in, my mouth met with a juicy burger that was well-seasoned. Actually, it may have been a little too well-seasoned, as it was a little tough to handle the salt content of some of the bites. It was slightly overcooked, but not enough to really disappoint, and the bun was just a little too big. Now, with these complaints being said, they are all pretty minor and I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t like the Big Ass Burger.

On the contrary, I found it to be a very delicious experience and one that I won’t soon forget. Plus, there’s really no way to top the value for the money here during happy hour. My only hope is that next time (and there will be a next time) the meat is cooked a little more to my liking.

A Happy Lunch Hour at Windsor

Strong start.

Until my most recent visit to Phoenix, the only Windsors in my mind were a Canadian city across the river from Detroit, a castle in England and way to tie a tie. But now I know better, because the Windsor in Phoenix that Heather and Albert brought me to rivals all of the other Windsors combined. Why? This Windsor has possibly the most productivity-annihilating happy hour I’ve ever experienced. From 11 am to 5 pm, Windsor offers wine, cocktails and mini beer pitchers for the low price of 5 bucks. In other words, lunch break becomes drunk break.

Sinking into Hara Sushi

It’s uh, yeah it’s sushi.

I’ve never understood the point of expensive sushi. When you get down to it, they’re all pretty much using the same ingredients with similar results. So when I ended up grabbing dinner at Hara Sushi in Santa Monica, I was a bit excited. Why? Because their sushi is always half-priced. And, they have a happy hour until 9:30 pm with some pretty cheap beers. So for once in my life, sushi sounded like a good time.

Parking at Garage Pizza

Where happy hour becomes meaty hour.

What’s the first thing you think about when someone tells you you’re going to a place called Garage Pizza? Flying unicorns with laser beam eyes? Doing the backstroke through a sea of sour patch gummy worms? No, you think of pizza found down a shady back alley with a haggard old man selling you a grimy looking slice of pizza out of a homemade oven built from used industrial parts. Thankfully none of those are true (despite the fact that flying unicorns with laser beam eyes are pretty sweet and totally real) and I can happily say that Garage Pizza is a legitimate, mostly haggard-free, pizza establishment.

Happy Hour Appetizers at Urban Bar & Grill

Who wouldn't want stabbed pineapple?
Who wouldn’t want stabbed pineapple?

On a short trip down to San Diego to visit a friend, I only ended up having time for one meal, so I wanted to make it good. I was told the Gas Lamp area was a great part of town to find some grub, so we took a stroll through that part of downtown to see what we could find.

After checking out a couple menus prominently displayed outside of restaurants, we chose Urban Bar & Grill, mostly because they had a pretty great happy hour going on. Aside from some pretty swanky drink specials, all appetizers were half-priced. We took our seats at the lovely outdoor patio and opened our menus. Even though the main courses looked good, I knew I had to stick to the awesomely priced appetizers.

Happy Hour Meats at Gyu-Kaku

A beautiful display of meats.
A beautiful display of meats.

In my never-ending quest for the perfect happy hour in LA, I wound up at Gyu-Kaku in West LA for Japanese BBQ. With five minutes left in their Happy Hour, we arrived and were told there was a ten minute wait. Discouraged, we still decided to make the best of it and took our seats after the wait. Our zealous waiter checked his watch as he arrived at the table and disappointedly reminded us that we had just missed happy hour. We told him that we knew, but we had tried to arrive on time and had to wait. Quickly thinking, he told us he was actually a manager and he would give us happy hour prices for our first round of ordering. Score!

Tastes of the Northwoods, Part III: The Green Mill

Stupid stupid celery
Stupid stupid celery

The Green Mill (affectionately referred to as “The Mill”) in Duluth is a place I have to visit every time I’m in the area. It not only has good food and drinks, but it has a great happy hour as well. What used to be 1/2 price appetizers and wings has now become 5 bucks. This isn’t such a big deal, since the prices are still so low.

Through many visits, I finally discovered the best that The Mill has to offer, Dixie Wings. These are wings with a buffalo-like sauce that stings the mouth, but always leaves me wanting more. The Mill is also one of the few places where I opt for boneless wings versus the much manlier wings with bones. For some reason, the Dixie Wing sauce just seems to work so much better with boneless wings.

A Very Happy Hour at Islands

People just seem to think carrots and celery belong with wings...
People just seem to think carrots and celery belong with wings…

The never-ending search for a great happy hour in LA led me to Islands, a burger chain out in the west that reminds me a bit of Applebees with an island theme (what island that is, I cannot tell).

For their happy hour, they offer a great discount on drinks, as well as half-priced apps. They had some good-looking unvegan apps like Tiki (Chicken) Tenders and Cheddar Fries, but when places offer half apps, there’s really only one food I have in mind: Buffalo Wings!

With the knowledge that the wings came with carrots and celery, I made a great personal sacrifice and allowed the dish to come with them so my girlfriend could eat them. I know that makes me look soft, but at least I had spicy wings and beer.