Centro Cocina Mexicana
2730 J St., Sacramento
Hours: Lunches are 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon- 4 p.m. Saturday; dinner is 4 p.m.- 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 4 p.m.- 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m.- 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Bar hours are 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.- Midnight Thursday, 11:30 a.m.- 2 a.m. Friday, noon- 2 a.m. Saturday, 4 p.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
The real steal: Select from food and drink specials ranging from $2 to $5 during happy hour. For $2 you can enjoy a Bud Light, and for a dollar more you can try their $3 draft beers Dos Equis and Pacifico as well as snack on chalupas or quesadillas. For $4, enjoy the house chardonnay or merlot and guacamole or crisp taquitos. For $5, try the signature drink, the margarita a la Centro, or Red Bull and vodka; if you're hungry, have empanadas and tostadas de pollo.
Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m.- 2 a.m., enjoy half-off tequila shots, except for infusions or mix-drink tequilas.
The vibe: Artwork at this laid-back restaurant is selected in Mexico for an authentic feel. Walls are painted pink, orange and cobalt blue, and cutouts in a white wall dividing the bar area from the restaurant are pink inside.
The unfinished wooden ceiling has metal 3-D stars hanging down for lighting, as well as silver grey exposed piping and an open kitchen adding to the urban feel. The blue bar top matches the blue benches of the dining seats, and the bar has two flat-screen TVs playing sports.
Signature drink: The signature drink at Centro is the margarita a la Centro, made with Agavales Silver tequila (100 percent blue agave), Triple Sec and lime juice that's freshly squeezed every morning at the bar. This unique margarita is refreshing and tart, with a hint of sweetness.
Alternative libations: The $4 house red wine is a favorite. The 2009 California merlot from LangeTwins winery in Acampo boasts a sweet and robust flavor with a hint of berry, and is made through sustainable methods.
Bathroom break: The simple, two-stall bathroom is tucked away behind the bar.
Behind the cobalt blue door, you'll find a warmer color palette with a taupe tiles and pink paint. The single sink leaves plenty of counter space and a large rectangular mirror above it allows for touch-ups.
Something extra: Happy hour works in the bar area and the patio; however, with summer approaching the patio is the seat of choice. On one side of the patio is a long, stone-topped table with tall, faux wicker chairs. These are perfect seats for a big group. If you prefer a smaller group atmosphere, try the stone-topped tables for two to four people on the other side of the patio. Colored lights dangle above the patio.
HAPPY HOUR ON THE CHEAP
6608 Folsom-Auburn Road, No. 1, Folsom
Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. daily, all day Wednesday and Thursday
The deals: Enjoy a dollar off all bottled beers, $3 draft beers, $4 premium well drinks and house wines, and $5 margaritas. If you want to munch on something, appetizers range from $2.95 to $4.95 with options such as street tacos, quesadillas, nachos locos and black bean dip.
Red 88 Noodle Bar
223 G St., Davis
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon - 3 a.m. Saturday, noon - 11 p.m. Sunday.
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. daily
The deals: Enjoy $1 off all appetizers, specialty cocktails, and draft beers during happy hour. You can also get a $2 Bud Light, and specialty cocktails range from around $6 to $7 each. Appetizers such as crab wontons and Asian-style fries are perfect to share and are around $5 to $6 each during happy hour.
MVP's Sports Bar and Grill
2110 L St., Sacramento
Hours: Open by 11 a.m. on weekdays and at 9 or 10 a.m. on weekends. Closing (and opening) times vary based on game schedules, including hockey, baseball, soccer, football, boxing matches, UFC fights, basketball and rugby.
Happy hour: 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday
The deals: Enjoy $2 domestic beers and $3.50 well drinks while watching the game at MVP's. Appetizers are half-off and range from $2.50 to $4.50 for a full-size order. Some of the house favorites are hot wings, boneless wings, chicken strips, calamari, and stuffed jalapeños.
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