Place: Blue Cow Kitchen, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 621-2249.
Hours: Weekdays 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (drinks); 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (food)
Deals: A two-sided, postcard-sized menu begins with $5 well cocktails -- vodka, rum, gin, whiskey or tequila -- with a choice of mixer. There are a handful of $5 beers, such as Eagle Rock Manifesto Wit, and three $6 wine options. Food is a selection of popular appetizers and miniaturized versions of favorite sandwiches, including pink eggs & ham, pork belly bánh mì sliders and Pitman Farm's duck wings.
Vibe: Blue Cow Kitchen's happy hour begins and ends at an earlier time than the usual, which makes it most suited for the suits who work within walking distance and freelance professionals. The restaurant is in Two California Plaza, a short flight of steps below Grand Avenue's street level and away from immediate view.
The food might be a bigger draw during happy hour, with almost every table laden with platters of sliders and fried potato wedges. Cocktails are otherwise unfussy and familiar. Blue Cow probably knows this, which may well be why the drink specials are offered at 2:30 p.m. The food specials are available two hours later.
A bit on the saltier side, the food seems to be seasoned for drink pairing. There are a few selections that are a step or two above the conventional routine found elsewhere. The duck wings, first confited then grilled, are tossed in aji amarillo, a Peruvian-inspired sauce. A trio of root vegetables are sliced thinly and fried as chips, served in a cone with sides of smoky tomatillo salsa and an air-whipped onion dip.
Tables can fill up quickly, with a younger professional crowd not quite newly graduated, possibly more likely to choose Justin Timberlake than Justin Bieber. (The average age hovers at the cusp of Generation X and the Millennials.) It's particularly charming to sit outside on the kind of sunny summer day that guarantees most of us a little exterior light after work. Some of L.A.'s tallest buildings -- U.S. Bank Tower, Wells Fargo Center, and Bank of America Center -- compose the backdrop of an urban vista unique in a town peppered by buildings mostly no taller than four stories.
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