HOURS: 3-6 and 10-midnight daily
PRICES: $1 off drinks
Half-price appetizers

Like everyone else in this town, I love the food at La Carta de Oaxaca but invariably when I try to eat dinner there—even when it’s only like five f’ing thirty at night—there are about 15 people standing outside shivering in the rain, waiting for a table that won’t come within the hour.

So I walk over to La Isla on Market and hope to get in in time for happy hour, which runs from 3-6pm (and again from 10-midnight) daily. Drinks are $1 off, but the real bargains are the half-price appetizers. Because here’s the thing: they’re not very expensive to begin with. And here’s the other thing: they’re really tasty. The gandules (pigeon peas) dip with platano chips, a classic Puerto Rican snack, is $3.50 during HH. I also always get some sort of empanada (they have seven kinds) which are just two bucks. It’s a key spot if you like mojitos, but they have all the other island classics—Cuba libre, mai tai, daiquiri—with none of the cruise-ship vibe you usually get at places that specialize in rum drinks.

The last thing I’ll say about La Isla is that when I’m here, even though I usually go in scowling about missing out on that magic mole over at Carta, I end up feeling really happy. People always seem to be laughing and having a good time. Maybe its the rum drinks or the cheap food, but whatever it is, it works.

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