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Take the Happy Hour Challenge

Too many restaurants to try, not enough time

My husband and I enjoy dining out and our favorite place to sit is at the bar. First, we are typically out on a date and children aren’t allowed to sit at the bar (so we’re guaranteed a kid-free zone). Second, we almost always like the bartender. And third, the bartender will give you the honest truth about anything.

A few years ago, my husband and I celebrated a big anniversary and booked a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. Our friend has a place there, and he was kind to let us use his place while he was out of town. Before we even left home, I was researching the best restaurants and happy hours in the area. We love great atmosphere and experiences, and if you can find it at a lower price, that’s even better. My list was growing out of control, and that left us with the conundrum. How will we ever visit all of these places in the short time we’ll be in Scottsdale? Without hesitation, it became a challenge.

“That’s it!” I thought. The Happy Hour Challenge was born. We determined the guidelines, and in summary, there are really only two rules to the Happy Hour Challenge. Rule number one: After you determine your restaurants, you can only stay for one drink and one appetizer. Rule number two: After completing Rule number one, you have to move on to the next restaurant. To conduct your own Happy Hour Challenge, follow this simple formula.

First, research the top lists. I simply Googled, “Best Happy Hours in Scottsdale,” and found that there were already local lists, and travel writers had already compiled the best of the best complete with start and stop times. Some listings even included signature appetizers to try.

Then, map out your locations. You can create a Google Map with the addresses and see where all of the places are. For instance, we spent each afternoon in a different part of Scottsdale so that we could visit at least three restaurants during “Happy Hour.” *Note: It’s a beautiful thing when some happy hours begin at 3 pm and others end at 8 or 9 pm. Be strategic!

Finally, listen carefully. Remember I mentioned the honest bar tenders? Well, they played a part in this as well. We would tell them of our “Happy Hour Challenge,” making it clear we were only staying for one drink and one appetizer. And then they would tell us if we were, in fact, ordering the right items on the menu. After that, they would ask us where we were off to next, and even offer suggestions of what to order at the next place. One server even told us more about the dining scene, which helped us to fine-tune our list for the following days. It is often the locals who are the best guides of all. Listen to them.

Our trip was a fantastic collection of dining experiences and we have continued to “Happy Hour Challenge” in certain situations and destinations. When making a decision is tough enough, allow a little wiggle room and take the Happy Hour Challenge. You’ll be glad you did.

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