The Joint: Sanctuaria 4198 Manchester Avenue 314-535-9700
The Hours: 4-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Late-night happy hour 10 p.m.-close.
The Deal: $5-8 specialty cocktails; beers ranging from Bud bottles for $2.50 to Left Hand Sawtooth for $5.50. Tapas about $4 per order. Three to four tapas dishes constitute the perfect pre-dinner snack for a table of four.
All well and good, but does Sanctuaria deliver the goods?
The Scene: Despite the good food and hip Mediterranean-gothic décor, happy hour at Sanctuaria is kind of dead. The late-night edition brings in more people, but don't be surprised if you're the only person in there at 5 p.m. Technically happy hour is limited to the bar, but when it's slow you can order at the bar, carry your drinks outside to the restaurant's beautiful patio and they'll let it slide. The staff is very accommodating and they hold themselves accountable for every aspect of your visit.
Why You'll Go Back: The flavors. The complex layers of spices and flavors are never heavy or overdone. The tapas are savory, sweet and all types of delicious. Example: the "Chihuahua and Guava" empanadas, impressively tender pastries that pair sweet guava goodness with tart, melty queso de Chihuahua. Drinks are elaborate -- involving interesting ingredients such as hibiscus syrup -- and tasty. If you're a bourbon lover, the 47th Ward (made with Rowan's Creek bourbon, orange and lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, grenadine and mint) might just become your new favorite drink.
The Verdict: The prices aren't the lowest in town and the early edition doesn't boast a bustling social scene. But what Sanctuaria does offer during happy hour -- or at any other hour -- is topnotch food and drink. It may not be the hoppin'-est place to scram to straight from work, but it sure is a place to scram to sometime.
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