Happy hour is a time to belly up to the bar -- not just to drink but to sink your teeth into some genuine dining bargains. Think of it as your big chance to eat at places you may have considered out of reach.
Have you been wondering about that posh new spot where entrees run upward of $30? At the bar, a casual meal of sliders, sushi rolls and wings will set you back only $4 to $6 a plate. Then, there's the sophisticated American bistro, where a 10-ounce Cheddar burger with fries goes for only $7. Sip a discounted mojito, merlot or tap beer, and you've got a meal both frugal and festive.
Keep in mind, though, that happy hour usually runs late afternoon into early evening, so you've got time constraints. And don't expect an intimate meal in the dining room; seating is mostly at the bar -- which can get crowded, but that is a plus for some.
Revel (835 Franklin Ave., Garden City): A major scene prevails at the glittery bar of this New American spot. Prime Angus beef sliders with Cheddar and pork belly go for $4 each. Other "bar bites," sized to feed more than one, include Korean-spiced wings ($10), roasted Brussels sprouts ($8) and Japanese eggplant caponata with flatbread ($11). Drink discounts, too.
Time: Daily, noon to 7 p.m.
Place: The bar and lounge area, which offers banquette seating.
Prime Angus beef sliders are on the happy hour menu at Revel in Garden City.
Vitae Restaurant & Wine Bar
Vitae Restaurant & Wine Bar (54 New St., Huntington): In pretty, polished surroundings, chef Steven Del Lima offers such happy hour selections as duck carbonara mac and cheese ($7), petite filet mignon sliders ($15), sweet chili-glazed calamari ($7) and grilled margarita pizza ($6). Discounted cocktails, as well.
Time: Tuesday to Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.
Place: The bar and high-top tables nearby.
Sweet chili-glazed calamari and filet mignon sliders are among the happy hour offerings at Vitae Restaurant & Wine Bar in Huntington.
Ting (92 E. Main St., Huntington): Both spacious and gracious, this Asian restaurant offers a wide range of items from both sushi bar and kitchen: a mini burger with sweet potato fries ($9), yellowtail jalapeño ($9, pictured), crispy calamari ($7) as well as "new salmon" — seared fish with vegetables in a spicy lemon dressing. Sushi rolls range from $2 for an avocado roll to $4 for a spicy salmon roll to $9 for an ornate "summer lover" roll. Drinks are discounted.
Time: Monday to Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.
Place: The bar, as well as at four nearby tables.
The "summer lover" roll at Ting in Huntington.
Ristegio's (641 Medford Ave., North Patchogue): Both the sushi bar and chef Richard Lanza's kitchen supply the happy hour items at this sprawling showplace of a restaurant. To make a meal of it, mix and match a spicy tuna or California sushi roll ($4), Buffalo wings ($6), BBQ pulled pork slider ($6) and wild mushroom risotto balls ($6). Discounted drinks, too.
Time: Tuesday to Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.
Place: The bar and tables in the lounge.
Spicy tuna rolls are served during happy hour at Ristegio's in North Patchogue.
Hudson's Mill (5599 Merrick Rd., Massapequa): Make a meal of the 10-ounce Cheddar burger with seasoned hand-cut fries ($7) served during happy hour at this handsome American bistro. Or combine appetizers like Buffalo chicken spring rolls ($4.50, pictured), Buffalo calamari ($7) and a marinated grilled chicken quesadilla ($6.50). Drink specials, too.
Time: Monday to Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.
Place: The bar as well as at four high-top tables in the bar area.
Buffalo calamari at Hudson's Mill in Massapequa.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Ruth's Chris Steak House (600 Old Country Rd., Garden City): The only Long Island branch of this high-end national steak house chain aggressively markets its happy hour, which it calls "sizzle, swizzle & swirl." Here, well-crafted and substantial small plates cost $8. Choices include a sizable tenderloin and mushroom skewer salad, crabcake sliders (pictured), steak sandwich with fries, spicy lobster and seared ahi tuna. Drinks are discounted, too.
Time: Monday to Friday, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Place: The bar (where you must order) or at one of the nearby high tables.
Happy hour at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Garden City includes a tenderloin and mushroom skewer salad.
Havana Central Restaurant & Bar
Havana Central Restaurant & Bar (Roosevelt Field, Garden City): At this splashy Cuban-Latin restaurant at Roosevelt Field, build a meal from $6 appetizers such as chorizo pigs-in-blankets, Caribbean wings, pinchos (skewered grilled chicken, beef or vegetables) and empanadas (three to an order, with fillings such as beef, chicken, cheese and spinach). Tuesday nights can be hectic, since empanadas go for $1 apiece at the bar. Discounted drinks.
Time: Monday to Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.; Sunday to Thursday, 9 to 11 p.m.
Place: At the bar or any of the high-top tables and booths in the bar/lounge area.
Caribbean wings and empanadas stand out among the happy hour specials served at Havana Central in Garden City.
Jewel (400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville): You may have a hard time finding a seat at the bar during happy hour, as the eats -- which can include flatbread pizzas, tuna tartare on cucumbers, spring rolls, Kobe pigs in blankets, shrimp cocktail and mushroom bruschetta -- are free.
Time: Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 p.m.
Place: At the bar.
Shrimp cocktail is among the free hors d'oeuvres passed during happy hour at Jewel in Melville on Oct. 15, 2014.
Butera's (65 E. Main St., Smithtown, 631-979-9113; 100 S. Main St., Sayville; and 7903 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-496-3633): These stylish, popular Italian spots offer a menu that includes a 10-inch grilled Margherita pizza ($7, pictured), "Sicilian lifeguard" calamari with spicy sauce ($8), chicken spinach focaccia sandwich with fries ($7) and a 10-ounce mozzarella burger with fries ($7). Drink discounts, as well.
Time: Smithtown and Woodbury, Sunday to Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.; Sayville, Monday to Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 9 p.m.
Place: At the bar at all three restaurants. In Woodbury and Smithtown, also at high-top tables nearby.
Benihana (2105 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, and 920 Merchants Concourse, Westbury): This Japanese hibachi-sushi chain allows you to create a satisfying dinner from such items as salmon, tuna and yellowtail nigiri sushi (two pieces for $4), a spicy tuna hand roll ($4), yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño ($4.50) and any number of ornate sushi rolls, including the flashy Las Vegas and Gotham (pictured) rolls ($6 each). A Mexican-Japanese offering: a trio of fish tacos ($6). Sake, wine, beer and cocktails discounted, as well.
Time: Monday to Thursday, 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Place: The bar and sushi bar, including some nearby tables.
Crispy spicy tuna at Benihana in Manhasset.
Spiro's Lounge & Restaurant
Spiro's Lounge & Restaurant (4 Patchogue Dr., Rocky Point): This Continental restaurant sharply discounts its regular menu during two happy hours — one afternoon to early evening, the other later at night, making for a packed bar nightly. Here, the same 18-ounce New York strip steak that goes for $33 in the dining room costs $16. Other choices: baby back ribs ($9), a grilled chicken and mozzarella salad ($12; $16 with shrimp), a hamburger with fries ($7) and basil-potato-crusted bass with garlic-basil sauce and fries ($10). Drink discounts, too.
Time: Sunday to Thursday, 2 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight
Place: Bar-lounge area, including high tables.
Basil-potato-crusted bass is served at happy hour at Spiro's Lounge & Restaurant in Rocky Point.