Distilled: Happy hour of the month: Carabar

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From the May 23, 2013 edition

It’s my job to go to happy hours. But, to be completely honest, this gets repetitive because many happy hours offer the same specials. Occasionally, I come across one that goes above and beyond the rest. This is one such happy hour.

Featuring an eclectic mix of genres, from metal to hip-hop, and a heavy rotation of local acts, Olde Towne East’s Carabar is one of the city’s best live music bars. While seeing a show at Carabar — cover charge?! F--- that! — is a rite of passage for any music fan, it’s the happy hour that’ll be the topic of praise here. From opening (4 p.m.) until 8 p.m. weekdays, Carabar offers an embarrassment of happy hour riches that present as much variety as cheap deals.

From a beverage standpoint, the draft mugs are ideal. PBRs are $1 and all others are half-off resulting in some worthy craft beers, including a number of options from local breweries, costing between $2 and $3.

If you like something stronger to alleviate a tough day — no judging here, I get it — liquors at Carabar are also on the cheap. Wells, shots of El Jimador tequila and Van Gogh vodka are $2. I recommend the potent rotgut Powers Irish whiskey.

Where Carabar is surprisingly impressive, considering it’s a rock ’n’ roll dive, is the excellent food from its Helen Killer Cafe. There’s a variety of offerings (grilled cheese, tacos, Sloppy Joes, burgers, hot dogs and more) that cater to both the vegan and meat-eater. Each day offers a different food special for a couple bucks.

Monday’s $1 grilled cheese is popular, but the tacos on Tuesdays are fantastic. A nicely-sized flour tortilla is filled with either red beans and rice, falafel or beef for $1, and buffalo chicken or fish for $2. The falafel taco — besides being extremely fun to say — is a wonderfully strange combination of ethnicities.

The remainder of the week is filled out with Sloppy Joes with house-made chips ($3, Wednesdays), meatball splashes ($1, Thursdays) and chili cheese burritos ($2.50, Fridays).

Photo by Meghan Ralston