Photo: KOMO

HOURS: 5-7 daily, all day Sun
PRICES: $3 beer, $5 wine, $6 cocktails
Half off bar menu

The principal joy of showing up at El Gaucho Belltown’s bar during Power Hour—nevermind the name, it is now held from 5-7pm daily and all day Sunday—is the knowledge that you are getting an outrageous bargain at a very expensive restaurant. All the food on the bar menu is half off. So you get a one pound Angus beef burger with bacon for $7.50, or a dry aged sirloin steak sandwich for $8, or a heap of Ahi tuna tartare for $8, and so forth and so on.

This, plus there’s none of the second-class citizenship treatment you sometimes experience in the bar at high-end eateries: some six waiters attended to my table when I was there last week, performing the obsessive water-glass filling, napkin-snapping rituals that my colleague Kathryn Robinson described so brilliantly in her review of the Bellevue El Gaucho.

Then of course there’s the guy playing The Way We Were or whatever on the grand piano, and the octogenarians with their pearls and their dinner jackets paying full price at the tableclothed tables in the main dining atrium behind you, and the downright dangerous but admittedly romantic darkness in which the whole circus is performed. It all conspires to transport you right out of a rainy spring evening in Seattle during what we might as well start calling the Even Greater Depression and back to some other time when fancy restaurants and dinners alike were further and fewer between. And while that may not be a place you want to stay forever (can’t wait to get back to that free-falling economy!) it’s certainly interesting. And now, with the slashed-price fare plus $5 select reds and whites and $3 beer (cocktails are $6), it can also be cheap.

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