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Happy Hour (“Feliz Hora”) at Esteban in Monterey


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Happy Hour (“Feliz Hora”) at Esteban in Monterey

Melanie Wong | Apr 9, 2011 06:51 PM

On Tuesday, Mom and I checked out the happy hour at Estéban, located in Monterey’s Casa Munras. Esteban is a tapas bar and lounge. Not that large inside, but quite welcoming with a bar and about a dozen two- and four-tops, plus a fireplace. The outside patio has more seating as well as a fire pit.

Happy hour, or “Feliz Hora”, is offered 5 to 7pm daily, and until closing on Sundays.

First up was the complimentary first basket of grilled pita bread served with tapenade, hummus, and olive oil/vinegar. The pillowy, slightly chewy triangles of pita were great. We also liked the roughly mashed hummus spiked with a bit of chili spice and the kalamata olive tapenade.

Mom had the non-alcoholic orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine drink, $5. She said it was sweet, but I don’t think that was a complaint.

I had the Sangria, $4 at happy hour.

The happy hour specials are indicated with an asterisk (*) on the printed food menu and are half-off during happy hour. We ordered them all but the chicken leg dish. The best of the bunch was the steamed mussels with chorizo, $4.50 during happy hour. Nice and plump, very fresh mussels, delicious juices spiked with sweet slivers of garlic and sliced Spanish chorizo.

Butter lettuce salad with Point Reyes blue cheese dressing, candied walnuts, grapes, and apples, $4.50 during happy hour was also very tasty. Heavily dressed, and loaded with walnuts and grapes as well, I would have actually liked more lettuce.

Baba ganoush and fried pita chips, marked down to $2.50 for happy hour. The eggplant spread was dense and had the appearance of chopped liver.

At $4 at happy hour, the salad of garbanzo beans, rock shrimp, lemon, red pepper and egg was also a good deal. The shrimp were a bit overcooked and too firm, but we liked the zesty dressing.

From the “regular” menu we tried the warm sausage and artichoke pintxos dabbed with aioli priced at $3 each. The sausage was rather unremarkable, tasting like a fennel-y Italian type, and not really worth the price.

Likewise, the Piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalau, served hot on a bed of basil puree, $11. I was rather shocked that only two pieces were served for that price, and I didn’t tell my mother how much this dish cost. Unfortunately there was an out of place sourness that marred the flavor.

Despite being a busy night, the servers managed to keep up with beverages and gave us a head’s up when the kitchen got backed up that there would be a delay. And even went above and beyond the call of duty. When the baba ganoush remaining that I had planned to take home as a leftover was whisked away from the table while I was in the rest room, I asked if it could be recovered or had reached the point of no return. Our waiter brought out the equivalent of half an order of fresh baba ganoush with chips packed to take home.

Overall, we enjoyed each of the items from the happy hour menu. The two sampled from the regular menu were disappointing and seemed quite pricey. My mother said she would like to go back. I think the strategy would be to start at happy hour to take advantage of the discounts to subsidize part of the meal cost and then choose carefully from the other items on the menu.

Esteban Restaurant
700 Munras Avenue, Monterey, CA 93940

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