Hours: 4 to 6 on weekdays in the lounge
Specials: Choose any three dishes on the izakaya menu for $20.12 (lounge only)
I recently met an out-of-town friend for happy hour at the Source by Wolfgang Puck, and was pleased to find he was as impressed as I was--and have been, over several visits--by chef Scott Drewno's izakaya-style small-plates menu.
HH, offered on weekdays in the restaurant's downstairs lounge, gets you three snacks for $20.12. (Beer and sake on the lounge menu can also be subbed in; wine is not part of the deal). Portions are small, but the food pops with zingy, bright, spicy flavors. It's the perfect fare to wake you up after a long work day without weighing you down too early in the evening.
Some of the best dishes are the juicy little prime beef sliders, saucy pork belly bao buns, and the sticky sesame-miso cones filled with a scoop of tuna tartar. Seared baby octopus is also lovely.
Then, of course, there are those famous dumplings. At most happy hours, dumplings are a frozen, Sysco-delivered throwaway item, but here the tongue-searing chili-pork wontons are a must-order, and may inspire a sudden craving days later.
I love sipping Sapporo with the food here, but the white-on-white decor and well-heeled but oh-so-Washington crowd may well inspire a desire for a bracing martini. Just don't forget to sip slowly; you have the whole night ahead of you, after all.