I'm a bit late to this party.
But late or not, I've become a huge fan of happy hours.
I remember when the only folks dining before 6:30 p.m. were seniors and families with young children. It was a sure sign that one lacked culinary sophistication if one showed up earlier. And if it was a buffet? Well, never mind, but keep on wearing that polyester leisure suit!
There's been a lot of employee turnover in my office recently, which has resulted in many new, younger hires. One of the side benefits has been a lot more interest in happy hours at local bars. No, this isn't the local buffet--much trendier than that! I live in a city that prides itself on its food options, so virtually every 'happening' restaurant has a bar, with a happy hour that mostly runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. (Often, another happy hour kicks in around 10:00 p.m. but by then, this senior is in her jammies, parked in front of the television set.)
I've been amazed at the food and drink options as well as the prices. Yesterday evening, for example, seven of us went out. Cocktails were $5. Wine was $4. Beer was even less. The food prices topped out at $6 for the calamari. I had Phad Thai ($3) and french fries ($2) plus a drink (OK, so neither the diet police nor the nutrition monitors were around!) for a grand total of $12 including the tip. I sneaked a peak at the dinner menu where the same order would have cost me over $20. As long as the food and drinks were served before the end of the happy hour, we could hang out as long as we liked.
Going with a group is part of the fun and saves one from the singles' "are you dating material or not" action at the bar. (Of course, if you're into that, there's another reason to go!)
If, like me, you find going out to eat to be one of life's special pleasures, happy hours are an especially frugal way to do it.