1116 15th St., Sacramento
Hours: Lunch is served 11:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner is 5-9 p.m. Sunday, 5-9:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Happy hour: 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
The real steal: The 4-5-6 happy hour features $4 well drinks, $5 select wines by the glass and $6 martinis and cocktails such as lemon drops, cosmopolitans, apple-tinis, along with appetizers at each price level.
The two wine-by-the-glass offerings are the Sawbuck Malbec and Stellina Di Notte Pinot Grigio. A few of the house- favorite appetizers are the spicy ahi tuna poke, patty melt sliders, BBQ pulled pork sliders, and the trio of fries. Cafeteria 15L also offers a couple of appetizers from its sister restaurant next door, Ma Jong's.
The vibe: This upscale casual restaurant has a quirky vibe.
A brick wall with mirrors and the word "Cafeteria" is lit up at the back of the restaurant. Unique lamps including one that looks like a crate hovering above the table hang from the ceiling. Exposed beams add to the urban feel. The marble bar top in the center of the restaurant has mismatched bar stools and red Campari lights hanging above. A wall of liquor frames the flat- screen TV, where you can watch sports while enjoying your drink. Near the bar are rustic wooden tables with the same mismatched bar stools. There also are plenty of couches and another flat- screen TV at the lounge in the back of the restaurant. An unusual industrial chandelier made from bicycle chains hangs above the plush sofas.
Signature drink: The $6 lemon drop is made with Torani lemon syrup and fresh lemon juice for the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Served in a sugared-rim martini glass, this drink is refreshing, and a classic cocktail to enjoy with or without appetizers.
If you want a slight burst of summer in your cocktail, for a dollar more you can try the raspberry lemon drop instead.
Bathroom Break: The bathroom is tucked away behind the lounge and is a spot to visit whether or not you need a touch-up between your cocktails. The six-stall bathroom is elegant and spacious, but the real reason to visit is by the sink.
At the entrance is a large marble sink with a hanging lamp above and flowers behind the faucet. When you wash your hands, you'll notice the wall in front of you is not a mirror, but rather a partially opaque window through which you can see an identical sink in the men's room and the men who use it.
Alternative libations: The classic cosmopolitan is another popular cocktail during happy hour. It costs $6, but for a dollar more you can add pomegranate for a twist. It's a good summer drink to enjoy while watching a game at the bar or in the lounge area, or while lounging in one of the cabanas and soaking up the sun outside.
Something extra: Happy hour works in the lounge, the bar, and the non-dining patio. However the best seat would have to be at one of the cabanas outside. There are two patios, but the non-dining patio is behind the bar and is where the cabanas and happy hour seating are located. That patio is filled with plenty of plush cushions on the wooden benches, a fire pit and heaters to keep you warm on a cool evening, as well as wooden tables and chairs with sun umbrellas to keep you comfortable on a hot summer afternoon.
The cabanas have white linen curtains that can be drawn closed or kept as open as you would like for a more public or private happy hour.
Happy Hour On The Cheap
The Press Bistro and Bar
1809 Capitol Ave., Sacramento
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 4-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. (Dinner starts at 5 p.m. daily)
Happy hour: 4-6 p.m. daily
The deals: Sip on $4 house-made sangria or a $5 martini during happy hour. The Press offers three tapas for $10, including goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers and fried meatballs. The tapas special is available beyond happy hour, making them a great appetizer or stand-alone dinner.
Sophia's Thai Kitchen
129 E St., Davis
Hours: 4 p.m.-closing Monday through Friday, 5 p.m.-closing Saturday and Sunday. (Closing time varies, depending on how busy the bar is each evening.)
Happy hour: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
The deals: Select from $3 well drinks made with liquor such as Jim Beam or Smirnoff, $2 off all draft beers, and $5 cocktails such as the Lava Lamp, which is like a strawberry pina colada, or the Thai Breaker, a signature cocktail made with six different rums. Sophia's has about 30 specialty drinks.
Most of the appetizers cost about $3 each, with options such as spring rolls or satay; Sophia's also has a $5 calamari with a spicy citrus dressing that's become a house favorite. All appetizers are full-sized and perfect for sharing.
The Happy Viking
741 Plumas St., Yuba City
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Happy hour: 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
The deals: Choose from a dollar off all draft beers and well drinks, and $2 pints of Happy Viking, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rolling Rock. The Happy Viking's $5 appetizers include nachos and quesa- dillas, as well as 50-cent wings during happy hour.