Ponzu: Retro Party Lounge with Impressive Eats
The hours: Daily, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
The deals: House wines, well drinks, beers, and high-end snacks, all $3 each
The digs: Curvy, colorful retro-moderne party lounge with a low-slung, voluptuous bar area that positively glows in shades of orange, amber, and cobalt. The peach-, burgundy-, and cranberry-colored armchairs and davenports are comfy indeed, and the vibe is casual yet festive.
The verdict: The happy hour sipping-and-snacking options are wide and varied, and at a mere $3 apiece one can dissolve the stress of the workday for a relatively inexpensive stipend. Beer options include draft Deschutes, Bear Republic, and Sapporo and bottled Boont, Firestone, Tsingtao, and Scrimshaw, there's La Terre's cab and chardonnay for the wine-sippers, and you can upgrade your well drink to a martini for an extra $3. (There's also a special A to Zen Happy Hour cocktail du jour, also for $3.) The bites are impressive: paprika fries with shaved grana Padano; seven-pepper calamari; two Angus beef sliders with Monterey Jack and aïoli; Dungeness crab cake with celery root salad; chile-crusted chicken wings; taro/lotus/beet chips; mixed paprika-spiced nuts; kiwi-marinated short ribs; juicy, smoky beef satay with a creamy lemongrass-peanut dipping sauce. No dinner required.
Overall grade: A-