Seattle has an outsize reputation for happy hour—so much that out-of-town owners of failed Seattle area restaurants often lay at least some of the blame on their own neglect of happy hour culture. I recall Michelin-starred New York chef Terrance Brennan (Picholine) telling me in 2010 that he didn’t realize how critical an aggressively priced happy hour menu was around here—until after his Artisanal Brasserie and Artisanal Table, both in the Bravern, tanked after nine months. Likewise, upon announcing the closure of Shanik just a little over two years after it opened, Vancouver BC owner and chef Meeru Dhalwala told my colleague Allecia Vermillion she had no idea happy hour was so essential in these parts. “It doesn’t culturally exist in Canada,” she said.
In Seattle it culturally exists. So much that this city is quietly extending the concept to food.
Not so you’d notice, mind you; most restaurateurs have always offered both liquids and solids on their discount sheets. But you can see the focus shifting more to eats, both in start-time creep (more and more often north of 4pm) and in the sorts of places offering it up. Restaurants you wouldn’t necessarily think of first as wine or booze bars are discounting food in the afternoon, like relative newcomers Gnocchi Bar, with its 4pm to 6pm daily happy hour with soup, salad, and gnocchi specials; and Ericka Burke’s Chop Shop in Chophouse Row, featuring “Best Hour” between 3pm and 5:30pm when sandwiches and salads are reduced to $8. Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery (just the original Ballard branch, alas) offers $5 delectables—glass of milk and a cookie, a grilled cheese or grilled chocolate (!) sandwich—Mondays through Fridays, 3pm to 6pm.