THIS WEEK'S FEATURED BARGAIN
Ernesto's Mexican Food
1901 16th St., Sacramento
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday, 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 9 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sunday
Happy hour: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 p.m.-closing daily
The real steal: During happy hour, also known as Social Hour at Ernesto's, select from $2 beers, $3 sangria and a $4 house margarita. The secret special for beers is that it not only has Dos Equis and Tecate on tap, it also has Pacifico on tap, as well as Victoria beer in a 12-ounce bottle.
The appetizers range from $2 to $3, and the house favorites are the Mexico City taco, made with Ernesto's signature carnitas, and the tinga tostada.
The vibe: Upbeat Latin and salsa music plays in the background of the restaurant. The walls are a light mocha and rich cranberry, and glass lamps brought from Tonala, Jalisco, hang over each of the booths. Wood tables are arranged around the central bar. Plenty of open windows let in sunlight, and live plants in terracotta pots line a half-wall divider separating some of the booths from the bar. Artwork also is arranged around the bar. A large flat-screen TV behind the bar plays sports for the most part, though staff members can be persuaded to change the channel. Outside patio seating at concrete tables under oversize umbrellas makes Ernesto's a good spot to people-watch on a sunny day.
Signature drink: The sangria is the most popular drink at Ernesto's. It costs $3 during Social Hour and is made with fresh, hand-squeezed citrus fruits, strawberries and cinnamon, along with Presidente brandy and red wine.
Bathroom break: The bathroom is tucked all the way in the back of the restaurant. This two-stall bathroom has full-length bathroom doors for ultimate privacy, as well as two gold-framed mirrors that are perfect for a face or full-body check, and the walls and floor are covered in a sandy-colored travertine the same as the restaurant floor.
Alternative libations: Ernesto's house margarita is another popular choice. It is made with a house- created margarita mix for a classic and refreshing drink. It is $4 during Social Hour and can be served blended or on the rocks.
Something extra: The most popular place to enjoy your food and drink during Social Hour is the bar itself. It provides convenient access to the bartender to order another drink and gives you prime seating to enjoy the flat screen TV. If you're looking for a little more of an intimate happy hour, stay at the bar, but seat yourself so you are off to the side of the bar with your back facing the brick wall instead of the restaurant. Watching TV will become harder, however, you will have a cozy spot that is perfect for enjoying your food and drink with friends. And if it's a beautiful day out, many people also enjoy Social Hour outdoors on the patio.
Happy Hour On The Cheap
The Limelight Card Room
1014 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento
Hours: 9-2 a.m. daily
Happy hour: 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday
The deals: Enjoy a dollar off all draft beers, $2.50 well drinks, and $3 house wine during happy hour at the Limelight Card Room. If you're hungry, it has plenty of bar snacks to choose from for $3.75 or $4.75 each, such as hot wings, onion rings and calamari.
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Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday (Elk Grove, Woodland, and Yuba City), 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Citrus Heights, Roseville, Folsom, and Lincoln), 11 a.m.- midnight Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday (Vacaville), 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday (Fairfield).
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. and 8 p.m.-closing Monday through Friday
The deals: Select from beers and wines by the glass that range in price from $2.50 to $4.50, well drinks that range from $2.50 to $5.50, or the Gold margarita for $3.50 during happy hour. They also have appetizers for $3 to $7, such as Towering Onion Rings, RR's Buzzard Wings, and the Jump Starter Double Combo to choose from.
14500 Musso Road, Auburn
Hours: 3 p.m.-closing Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.- closing Wednesday through Sunday (11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. lunch, 4-9 p.m. dinner). The bar stays open until the last customer leaves.
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
The deals: Select from $5 appetizers such as hot wings and sliders, $4 well drinks and house wine, and $3 Double Down pale ale, the house beer. They also have different specials each night, starting with half-off sushi all night on Mondays, and during happy hour, pint night on Tuesdays, Wine Wednesday with half- price wine by the glass, and half-price select appetizers on Thursday.
Do you know of a bar that has amazingly good deals on drinks and food? Share the scoop with The Bee, and we'll highlight it as part of Night Life. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.