HOURS: Mon-Fri 4:30-6pm; Sun-Thurs 11pm-1am
PRICES: Small plates $3-$4; cocktails $4-$5; beer and sangria $3.

At peak hours, Palace Kitchen heaves with energy, diners who can get past the hostess sardine themselves into the bar area and pile up in booths. Once in, they shout happily at one another, making sure their own good times are included in the cacophonous chorus of another epic evening out.

And late night here tends to be blurry, nonsensical, wicked fun—I imagine a lot of iphones and credit cards are abandoned alongside forgotten bits of burger Royale and froth-crusted pint glasses.

But in the afternoon and evening, you’ll sometimes find a different Palace. The dimming sun casts a lazy bit of buttery light on all the stainless steel and the staff are purposeful but calm, chopping lemons and rinsing clams in resolved preparation for the coming onslaught. Seats at the bar are easy to come by and rewarded with friendly (but never hovering) attention from the bartender, who pours $4 cocktails (the Aviation gin, Luxardo, and lemon drink is rather tasty) and $3 pints of beer and glasses of housemade sangria. The HH food menu is small but way more welcoming than your typical happy hour fare—Penn cove mussels, an open-faced pork sandwich, lamb sausage with a white-bean bread salad. All of these are $4, and Palace also offers Dungeness crab legs for $3 a pop during HH.

But my favorite bit is the themed menu, a flight of bites that changes every few weeks. The Palace staff famously served three different preparations of Berkshire-pork "Spam" earlier this year, and one time I encountered three different lamb dishes. Currently Palace’s happy hour menu features a trio of crudos, $7 for all three. Steak tartare fans will not be disappointed. And if you haven’t tried properly prepared raw scallop, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.

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