Two Happy Hour Bites: Highbrow & Lowbrow

How many times must I laud the virtues of Mezzaluna’s happy hour?

Obviously, not enough. Mezzaluna is literally my favorite place to be between the hours of 4-6 p.m. The atmosphere is always cheery and carries a Great Gatsby vibe.

They make some of the best fancy cocktails in the city (along with Monte’s and Maxwells) and at happy hour, a handful of them are discounted at $7. Not quite your typical $1.50 draft beer, but they are creative and well-balanced. For lightweights like me, one is plenty. Jake always gets the Thai coconut cocktail. I brave the $3 beer of the evening or choose the Apple Manhattan. Both are strong enough and never too sweet.

Plates of happy hour food are also $7. The appetizers run $12-$13 outside of happy hour and don’t seem to be smaller portions. We usually order the overflowing cheese platter, the M Burger, or fish and chips with mushy peas. On our most recent visit, we deemed the dish of creamy polenta with four, prosciutto wrapped shrimp as our new favorite. Crispy shrimp tails rule.

I enjoyed the seared scallops with purple Thai rice and red coconut curry, $13. This particular appetizer is not discounted at happy hour. The scallops weren’t large, but they were caramelized and free from grit.

Dempseys is sort of a dive off the main drag in downtown Fargo. Dark wood and booths with high backs. It’s like a divier version of The Local, an Irish-themed pub in Downtown Minneapolis. Entertainment may include karaoke, blackjack, and pull-tabs. Once, we walked into a Kentucky Derby party filled with ladies wearing fancy hats. Plus, there’s free popcorn.

My friend who used to deal poker at Dempseys mentioned that as the evening wears on, the bar becomes more rowdy and prime for people watching.

On weekends, the bar offers food from the lovely Bertrosa’s Cafe such as their Chicago-style hot dogs or hot beef sandwiches. Otherwise, the menu is limited to typical bar foods like pizza and pickled egg baskets. They always offer Betrosa’s spicy beer cheese soup, the only (and the best) version I can stomach.

On a Tuesday evening, we ordered $1.50 pulled pork sandwiches, a Tuesday happy hour special offered between 4-9 p.m. We had all been expecting sliders but received full-sized sandwiches. The meat was tender and moist. I poured the small cup of coleslaw on top of the meat and munched away.

Seriously. They do. $10 for five jumbo shrimp and sinus-singeing cocktail sauce.

Who would have known?

The sight of a shrimp cocktail on Dempsey’s menu smacked of “one of these things is not like the other.” This would normally steer one away from ordering it.

We thank our friend for taking one for the team. Now we know.

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