Where: Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, 750 15th St. NW
Hours: 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily
Drink specials: Half-priced signature cocktails ($6), draft beer ($3.50), and wine by the glass ($4.50–$14)
Food specials: A selection of superb “cocktail sandwiches” ($3.95–$4.95), snacks ($2.95–$4.95), and half-priced oysters on the half shell
Pros: This is a quality happy hour. You can leave the place full and decently buzzed for $25 even if “Big Spender” is playing in the background, as it was on a recent Monday. The drinks are well executed classic cocktails whose names will be familiar to you. The food menu is well above average for the price. At $3.95, the mac n cheese sticks are your fastest path to a full stomach. They look like misshapen mozzarella sticks, but inside you’ll find impressively creamy shells and cheese.
The blackened fish slider ($3.95) is another fantastic deal. The fish is moist, the bun is soft and warm. A crowd pleaser for the vegetarian set is the fried buffalo cauliflower. It’s weird but it works ($3.95). The lobster deviled eggs ($4.95) come with an inoffensive bit of lobster on well-creamed yolks. Eat each egg in two bites to make the taste last.
Separate but not unrelated: The second floor bathroom is excellent, with spacious, full-door stalls and fancy hand lotion if you need to freshen up before continuing your evening.
Cons: It’s hard to fathom who can go to happy hour at 2:30 p.m., but if you find yourself in such a situation, go straight to Joe’s. For the rest of us, the 6:30 p.m. cut off is harsh. The fact that it’s a great happy hour means it’s a popular one. Show up on a federal holiday and you’ll get a seat, but on busy days you’ll struggle to score a table, and the acoustics make it hard to hear what others are saying.