Uptown Cafeteria vs. Stella's in happy hour face-off
Move over Stella's, there's a new patio in (Up)town. Uptown Cafeteria opened its roof to ravenous crowds last week, so we here at Hot Dish slathered on the sunblock to see who had the best happy hour.
Lisa Gulya We claim this burger for America.
3001 Hennepin Avenue. South
The hours: Monday-Saturday, 2-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight; all day Sunday.
Is happy available on the patio?: Nope. The specials are available on the main floor, bar area only.
The seating: Seats along the front of the restaurant open out onto the street, good for ventilation and people-watching; in the back, a dozen or so line cooks performed for the customers seated along a counter facing the kitchen. Along the bar was the easiest place to find space immediately, which also meant front-row seats for the World Cup match.
The service: We passed up several spots at the bar that hadn't been cleared yet, and when we sat down, one of the servers was busy apologizing to another group and asking them to give the restaurant a second chance after its opening week. It was unsurprisingly hectic, as soccer fans, brunching families, and happy-hour revelers swarmed throughout the restaurant. However, the servers and bartenders stayed cheerful even as they panted to keep up with new waves of customers, and we didn't have to wait long for food or drinks. The only complaint--our male server referred to us repeatedly as "girls." Maybe when we're past 60 we'll take it as a compliment, but for now, simply saying "you" will suffice, thanks.
How hidden was happy hour?: Not very. The happy hour specials are on the drinks menu, and the options are so limited (three drinks specials, three food specials) that the server could quickly explain them all to us.
The food: The $3 fried egg sandwich was a steal for coming with a side of fries, but the sandwich is minimalist to the max: It's literally a fried egg slapped between two toasted slices of wheat bread. The $3 bacon slider, adorned with an American flag toothpick and served with a side of fries, earned contented grunts. We skipped the third option--disco fries--not sure we'd be able to hold down gravy-slathered fries.
Lisa Gulya Would you like a sandwich with those fries? Lisa Gulya
The drinks: The $3 Happiness shot--mango, pineapple, and strawberry juice the day we visited, mixed with citron vodka--was fruity and refreshing. The $5 Good Girl Martinis (read: more sugar, less booze) are so cheap they seem like a happy-hour deal, but they're available all day. We couldn't resist trying one anyway: the Uptown Girl was simple but satisfying--a touch of syrupy sweetness from the apricot brandy base, balanced by just enough tartness from the lime juice. All 18 beers on tap are also only $3 during happy hour.