I was a little skeptical walking into Black Bird Bistro for a midweek happy hour. The bar was stained a deep red, and blue neon lights backlit the liquor. My cynical side expected to find overpriced appetizers cut by a couple of dollars and happy-hour martinis priced above the regular drinks menu at less-swank bars down the street. So I must apologize: Black Bird doesn't mess around with its happy hour (4–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri. and 3–6 p.m. weekends). The bar menu is extensive, diverse, and easy on the pocketbook—in fact, there are four items for $2.50, such as a grilled marinated portobello mushroom with garlic pesto. It was warm and comforting, just the thing to go with a stiff Manhattan ($3.50). More substantial $5 food items range from the very rich—steak skewers and cannelloni—to a breezy tuna poke. I went for the tuna and was delighted by the light ginger sauce; my only complaint was that the bread was too narrow to be of much help to the less nimble. But for $5, it was nothing a quick brush with a napkin couldn't take care of. My favorite thing about happy hour at this West Seattle bistro is the lack of pretension that so many Seattle bars seem to have embraced. Black Bird doesn't insist that you have a refined palate to enjoy a post-work drink. All draft beers are $3, and with no shame whatsoever, the bar offers $1.50 bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Goes to show: Never judge a bar by its backlighting.
2329 California Ave S.W., 937-2875, www.blackbirdbistro.com. WEST SEATTLE