Happy Hour Hunt: Zengo
The Place: Zengo, 1610 Little Raven Street, 720-904-0965.
The Hours: Monday through Friday from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The Deal: $5 specialty cocktails, happy hour wines by the glass and large bottles of Kirin and Sapporo; $3 beers; small plates range from $5-$7.
The Digs: Richard Sandoval's Latin-Asian establishment, nestled among the high-rise apartment buildings just west of LoDo, is classy and sophisticated without a sliver of ostentation. Deep reds and blacks accentuate the soft light in the restaurant, while crimson lanterns hanging above the bar give a sense of warmth to patrons seeking a hip oasis after the work day. The lounge area, casually lined with plush benches and deep seated chairs, is enticing, if not as comfortable as it appears.
The Verdict: Zengo's happy hour is an appeasing experience all around. The cocktails are poured liberally and twists on traditional classics, like the guava mojito, are slam dunks. The Kimono Kiss, a lovely concoction of Absolut Mandarin, sake and citrus, varies in consistency but is gulp-worthy when shaken by a bartender who mixes everything just right. The small plates, which include adequately portioned sushi rolls, chips and tomatillo dip, or braised bison riblets (yum), pair wonderfully with the beverage selection. The Kobe beef gorditas -- seasoned beef with black bean-won bok slaw, pico, Cotija cheese and crema fresca -- are mad delish and perfect for sharing. The service, while hospitable and friendly, can be rather slow when the place is cranking.
The braised bison riblets will leave you longing for more.