When Nada opened a year ago in the Arena District, I immediately became a fan of the zippy nouveau-Mexican food, stylish decor, personable service and winning assortment of drinks offered by this upscale Cincinnati import. In fact, the only thing missing was a happy hour discount to make the appealing fare of the not-cheap place more affordable.

When Nada opened a year ago in the Arena District, I immediately became a fan of the zippy nouveau-Mexican food, stylish decor, personable service and winning assortment of drinks offered by this upscale Cincinnati import. In fact, the only thing missing was a happy hour discount to make the appealing fare of the not-cheap place more affordable.

As I discovered before attending a recent Blue Jackets game, arena-facing Nada has finally added that happy hour (3-6 p.m. weekdays), and it's a good one. Considering that the kindest word to describe the Jackets' home-ice performance this year might be "hapless" (even though they lucked into the one great home game this season - Penguins whipped in overtime), if you plan on seeing the Jackets live, a serious dose of happy hour is strongly advised.

So start off with something strong, like a Nadarita - the house margarita on tap. Along with packing a substantial wallop, it's refreshingly tart from lime juice and accessibly sweet from honey. Already one of the area's better "cheap-aritas" at the regular $7 tab, it's an especially good value at the HH cost of $5. Other price-slashed beverages: hefty $5 Mexican Mules (Moscow Mules, but tequila replaces vodka) and a $3 local draft, which lately has been the thematically compatible Lime-Jalapeno Lager from North High Brewing.

Moving onto HH munchies, the guacamole ($5) is fresh, above-average, attractively presented and comes with warm chips (mine were a bit oily) plus the deal-sealing bonus of Nada's terrific Fire-Roasted Tomato Ancho Salsa.

The Queso ($5) is even better. Arriving in a surprisingly deep and cute little cast iron pot, the rich, spicy and nuanced cheese dip is fortified by a hidden layer of pureed black beans, and is one of the better versions in town.

Another $5 home run is the Tinga Quesadilla (it regularly goes for $9). Two toasted-crisp flour tortillas sandwich a pulled chicken, melted Chihuahua cheese and chorizo filling with richness-cutting vinegar and cinnamon accents. On top are crema, pickled onions, cilantro, scallions and diced tomatoes.

Probably the best bangs for your peso (only $2.50 apiece) are the Durango BBQ Pastor Taco (zingy, textured chopped pork with cabbage, pickled onions and cilantro in a flash-fried, soft corn tortilla) and one of the biggest and most steaky sliders ever.

Nada

220 W. Nationwide Blvd., Arena District

614-715-8260

eatdrinknada.com/columbus