Brackets Gets Into The Happy Hour Racket

Each week City of Ate will give you the lowdown on a local happy hour in Quittin' Time, with the details and why you should or shouldn't take up the featured bar or restaurant on its drink specials.

Where: Brackets, 5300 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 100 (at the Palomar, Mockingbird and U.S. 75)

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday

What: Half-price draft pints noon to 5 p.m.; half-price wells, domestic longnecks and pizza 5 to 7 p.m.

Why or why not: Because beer prices at Brackets went down this week, with drops of $1 to $1.50 each across the board, and happy hour prices make them downright reasonable. During an editorial lunch party last week, they ranged from $5 to $10, with Corona Light at $6.50 in one particularly galling example of price gouging. But that particular brew is down to $5 now, and several bottles are $4 apiece before happy hour discounts, with drafts at $5 per pint or $8 for a 24-oz. mug.

But it's sort of like a Dave and Buster's in that regard. If you're at this establishment, it's not for the cheap drinks...or the food or sports on TV, for that matter. The primary attraction is the games. Ping-pong, pool, shuffleboard and even Wii videogames are available to rent for $10 an hour--or free with food or drink purchase, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Reactions to the food were mixed. The crispy matchstick fries were a big hit, and a few of us liked the burgers--despite wildly inconsistent cooking temps. Four of us ordered ours medium, but the patties that came out ranged from the rare side of medium-rare to a solid brown well-done. The Kobe beef of the Brackets Burger didn't deserve such mistreatment, and its everything-and-the-kitchen-sink toppings of onion ring, chili peppers, cheese, avocado, pancetta and arugula further obscured the beef's flavor.

But as for the real attraction, the gaming stations are all new and well maintained. The flawless shuffleboard table was so slick, in fact, that it took some adjustment for Observer staffers who are more accustomed to dive-bar tables that haven't been polished or leveled since ever and where you have to compensate for surface nicks and warped wood.

Or maybe it was the 24-ounce drafts of Rahr Winter Warmer, Shiner Bock and Fireman's #4 that were throwing off our shuffle game.

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