In my last column
, I mentioned the problems I had finding a decent after work happy hour, and some of you wrote in to tell me your hunts have been just as weak. This told me two things: One, I should spend the next few weeks searching out Chicago's best happy hour, and two, someone other than my mom reads my column, yay!
I needed to find some drink deals. I needed to find some reasonable snacks. I needed to find a fake Morocco.
And low and behold, one exists on Wells! River North's Tizi Melloul had one of the best happy hour deals I'd heard of: select $3 appetizers and $3 martinis every Monday and Tuesday night. With high hopes, I forced the same friend who had accompanied me to my last happy hour to Tizi Melloul last Tuesday after work.
I got down to business with a $3 tortilla chip/dip selection appetizer and a $3 sidecar martini. The decor was just what we needed to unwind after a busy work day: colorful but dark, with plush seating, booths embroidered with third eyes and just-loud-enough music vibe enough to bellydance to (I opted to stick with drinking).
Just as we were noting that the bar's only detriment was its porthole-shape windows (it's the SS hookah!), a family plopped down next to us. Loudly. Suddenly, children were everywhere: Climbing on the chairs, on their parents, hovering dangerously close to my martini. They were hyper, hungry and seemed to multiply every time I looked away. It wasn't even 6 p.m. and the large dining room to the left sat empty. Children? In a bar? It felt profane. And confusing: I was suddenly torn over whether I should order my next drink or offer to teach several of the bar's newest patrons cursive.
Luckily, reason stepped in, and Matt and I ordered $3 almond martinis and analyzed a bit more. I'm all for tourists getting to see more than just the Rainforest Cafe, but there's something highly uncomfortable about repeatedly hearing the deafening strains of "MOM! Can I have more hummus?" over drunken laughter and the sounds of glasses clinking. Matt rolled his eyes. "There's your next column topic," he said. Yes, Matt. And also—can you hear it?—the sound of why I won't have children until I'm 40. Well, not those children, anyway.
But soon the family left and we had a larger problem. We'd both downed two $3 martinis (the most recent tasting oddly like wet marzipan) and weren't the least bit drunk. Sure, we'd each had a couple of drinks for what you'd typically spend at Chipotle, but we began to realize our drinks were pretty watered down—tasty, yes, but about as potent as Capri-Sun (and without the fun packaging). If the Kool Aid pitcher man had suddenly broken through the wall, clicked finger castanets and ordered up some lamb, I wouldn't have been a bit surprised.
To remedy the situation, I upgraded to a non-discounted vodka martini (regular martinis will run you $8 or $9), but Matt gave it the old college try and ordered another $3 martini. And after both were done, so were we—I a little too tipsy and ready to go home, eat animal crackers and pretend to watch a movie on my couch (when really, after about 10 minutes, the movie would be watching me), and Matt set to hop on the bus up north, content he'd gotten a deal—but not a bit buzzed. The verdict? Great atmosphere and tasty food, but on drink deal night, leave the kids at home and bring a flask.
Want to check out Tizi Melloul's early-week specials for yourself? The $3 "All Good Things Come in Threes" deal is offered each Monday and Tuesday from 5-9 in the bar area at Tizi Melloul, 531 N. Wells St., Chicago. Visit the website for more information.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in.