The Melting Pot
814 15th St., Sacramento
Hours: 3:30-10 p.m. Sunday, 4:30-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Happy hour: 4:30-7 p.m. Monday through Friday The real steal: Choose from $4 wines by the glass, such as the Mirassou moscato or pinot noir. For $16, buy a bottle of either to share with friends. Sangria and well cocktails are $6. Select bottled beers are $3.
The fondue restaurant's two-for-$22 deal includes two cocktails or wines from the happy-hour menu and a pot of cheese or chocolate fondue for two.
The vibe: The Melting Pot offers a relaxed, upscale atmosphere. A waterfall trickles behind the front counter. Light music and dim lighting add to the elegant, romantic vibe, as do dark, wood-paneled walls.
The dining area is filled with booths. Hot plates sit atop every table, warming pots of sweet or savory fondue.
Signature drink: Two drink options are popular during happy hour. For $6, try either the white sangria or the chocolate martini.
The white sangria combines white wine with a splash of mango. The chocolate martini is made with vanilla vodka and white crème de cacao, resulting in a crystal-clear cocktail with a burst of chocolate in every sip.
Something extra: The Melting Pot involves patrons in the dining experience in a way most restaurants do not. Your server comes to your table with your choice of chocolate or cheese, explains what will be added to the hot plate, and heats your fondue. The cooking and dipping are up to you.
It's a great setting for happy hour with friends, since everything is interactive and centers on the hot plate at the center of the table.
HAPPY HOUR ON THE CHEAP
12409 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (see note below)
Happy hour: All day daily
The deals: Select from $5 drink specials such as a horseshoe margarita, tangerine fizz or raspberry lemon drop, and daily wine specials. Each day, the manager chooses a red and a white wine to feature for $5 a glass.
Small plates range from $3 to $8. Some house favorites are loaded potato skins, chicken wings in three different flavors spicy buffalo, tangy barbecue and sweet Thai chili and tri-tip tacos.
Cattlemens also offers $2 domestic draft beers and $1 beef ribs to accompany "Monday Night Football."
Note: Happy hour is the same at the Cattlemens in Roseville. Hours differ slightly in Dixon, and Pabst Blue Ribbon is $1 from 4-6 p.m. daily in Dixon.