Cheap Trick: 8 Of Chicago’s Best Happy Hours

We love a good bargain, and our penny-pinching ways are not just reserved for retail therapy alone. Believe it or not, you can have a social life without going to the poor house. But, because even cocktails and small plates can be pricey, we’ve rounded up 8 of Chicago’s best happy hours for you to eat, drink, be merry, and still have change left over for any late-night cravings. Cheers!
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At River North’s sleek, sprawling Epic, all items on the lounge menu are half-price from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. That means ahi tuna tartare with avocado, normally $14, goes for $7. (We won’t judge you if you order two.) You can also score a $7 ceviche (there’s lobster in there!), fancy deviled eggs for $1 a pop, and mini Cuban sandwiches for $5. Indeed, this deal is pretty — say it with us now — epic.

Epic, 112 West Hubbard Street (between North LaSalle and North Clark streets); 312-222-4940.

Photo: Courtesy of Epic
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Taco Joint
For more traditional Mexican snacks, River North’s Taco Joint is at the top of our list. The airy, cheerful spot has a new special that’s making us even more eager to head in for a bowl of guac. The “3-4-5” happy hour, offered daily from 3 to 5 p.m., lets you score any three tacos for just $5. Our favorite taco is the Tinga, made with chipotle-spiked stewed chicken, red cabbage, and avocado salsa. A great seafood-y selection is the Estilo Baja, stuffed with Victoria beer-battered tilapia — and don’t worry, there are beef and veggie selections, too.

Taco Joint, 158 West Ontario Street (at North LaSalle Street); 312-337-8227.

Photo: Courtesy of Taco Joint
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Nacional 27
Know how Nacional 27 got its name? The Miami-inspired spot — always a safe bet for mojitos and salsa dancing — serves up cuisine from 27 Latin countries. The “5 to 7 at Nacional 27” promotion, available Monday through Friday at, uh, 5 to 7 p.m., offers half-priced tapas and ceviche. That means shrimp and guacamole; shrimp and scallop ceviche; and Hawaiian red all go for about $5 a pop.

Nacional 27, 325 West Huron Street (at North Orleans Street); 312-664-2727.

Photo: Courtesy of Nacional 27
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RA Sushi
If you’re like us, you can put away a lot of sushi (that’s just how we roll). But that premium tuna can get pricey, so we go gaga-sabi for RA’s happy hours. From 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, select sushi rolls, appetizers, and tapas ring in at $2.25 to $7.25. Our personal fave is the summery Pacific Roll ($6.25), which has a touch of cilantro and fresh mango-avocado salsa. Just heed our advice: The early bird gets to skip the wait. This what-a-deal sushi is almost as popular as cronuts, and the place can get packed after work.

RA Sushi, 1139 North State Street (at East Elm Street); 312-274-0011.

Photo: Courtesy of RA Sushi
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High Noon Saloon
Who says you have 'til after work to get a little happy? Relax, we’re not suggesting you sneak sips at your desk. Rather, save some time on the weekends for a sweet, spiked something at the High Noon Saloon — though you don’t even have to wait till noon for this deal. The spot’s brand-new brunch, offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., serves Tex-Mex deliciousness such as breakfast burritos and “huevos benedictos.” For $25, you get one entrée plus bottomless Bloody Marys or mimosas. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, right?

High Noon Saloon, 1560 North Milwaukee Avenue (at North Damen Avenue); 773-227-9339.

Photo: Courtesy of High Noon Saloon
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Sunda New Asian
Sunda New Asian is one swish place to wile away the early evening. On weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., a “Sunda Social Menu” offers food and drink specials in the lounge and bar, as well as on the patio. Our suggestion? Grab a cushy seat in the lounge and order up a round of the mini Ohhkoy fritters ($5). Stuffed with tempura veggies, spices, and a sweet chili sauce, these suckers are a vegetarian’s dream. Other nibbles — cover your eyes, veggie-heads — include lemongrass-beef lollipops ($5), seven-spice wings ($7), and Piglet Sticks ($5) with braised pork belly and Asian slaw. Quick tip: This is a great spot for a girls’ night out — it’s so much cheesy fun to cheers your pals with a pomegranate cocktail called the “Seoul Sister“ ($9).

Sunda New Asian, 110 West Illinois (between North LaSalle and North Clark streets); 312-644-0500.

Photo: Courtesy of Sunda New Asian
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Chicago Firehouse
No matter how tough your workday was, there’s no fire a little vino can’t put out. Chicago Firehouse, a stately South Loop spot with an umbrella-dotted patio, just launched its “Pinot on the Patio” promotion. On Tuesdays, all pours of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Pinto Gris are $5. Throw in some fancy nibbles from the starters menu, which includes oysters Rockefeller, shrimp risotto, and steak tartare, and that’s a happy hour indeed.

Chicago Firehouse, 1401 South Michigan Avenue (at East 14th Street); 312-786-1401.

Photo: Courtesy of Chicago Firehouse
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Dishing up everything from mini burgers to hamachi and gnocchi, Tavernita has a cuisine for every craving. But every evening from 5 to 7 p.m., it’s “Tapas Time.” Every time you order a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine during those magical hours, you get a free snack to go with it. Bites include pork-belly sliders with fruit jam and picked red onion and chicken croquettes with saffron aioli. Getting rewarded for ordering a drink? We could get used to that idea.

Tavernita, 151 West Erie Street (at North LaSalle Street); 312-247-1111.

Photo: Courtesy of Tavernita