<< home

Happy Hour Hop

A self-guided tour in downtown Madison

It’s Thursday and you’ve almost made it through the week. You’ve been good. You started your diet on Monday (just like you do every week). You even managed to get to the gym a few times. So when your co-worker pops into your cubicle and utters the two greatest words in the English language, “Happy Hour?” you respond in the only logical way, “Hells yeah!”

Not all Happy Hours are created equal. Personally, I have a few qualifiers. I like to go places that feel lively because really, after a few cocktails, conversation topics can get a bit PG13 and it’s nice to have background noise to cover that up. Also, it goes without saying that food is a must. Tiny bowls of mixed nuts need not apply. As a world-class snacker, I’m looking for good deals on great food.


My first stop is DLUX, just half a block off the square. My go-to Happy Hour combo has to be their Parmesan Tots and sparkling wine for only $6. It’s the perfect jumping off point. The cheesy, crispy tots pair perfectly with the sparkling wine.


Monday - Thursday / 3pm - 6:30pm

$2 off all appetizers, tapped beers, and kegged cocktails.

$6 Parmesan Tots paired with a glass of sparkling wine.

  • This means snacks range from $4-7.50, which seems respectable. And at only $3.50 for a small, fries are always a good addition.
  • Drinks ring in between $6 for a kegged cocktail and $3-4 for a draft beer.


If you start early enough, you have time to zip down the block and hit up Canteen. The Happy Hour menu prices are a great deal. And now, with the recent addition of half-priced tacos, I can leave just to right amount of full.

I love all of their margaritas but my personal favorite is the Gimme That Strawberry Margarita. It’s a classic frozen margarita, equal parts tart and sweet, which, of course, I pair with a half-priced taco. I also recommend the Pork Belly Taco. It was off the menu for a hot second but was recently brought back due to demand.


Everyday 2-5pm and Fridays and Saturday 10pm-1am

Half priced tacos

$2 Tecate Cans

$5 Tecate Can & Bartender's Choice [Tequila or Mezcal]

Half off Pacifico Pints

Half off Wine

Half off Signature Margaritas - Does not apply to margs upgraded from tequila on the Tequila Menu.

  • Tacos run from $2.75-$3.50 and since they come in sets of 2, it’s a killer deal.
  • Margs are $4-$5.25. Pacifico pints are $2.50 (hello, cheap date!) Wine is $4-$4.50.


There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of really great places to end your Happy Hour Hop, but for me, Cento is always one of my top choices. If you headed out early enough, you should be able to grab a spot and place your order just in time.

Cento’s Happy Hour menu has select, inexpensive options. For me though, it’s butcher board all the way. Italian meat sliced paper thin and served with local cheeses and honey. That’s pretty much my favorite meal.

The Negroni is a solid cocktail choice if you like an herbal, boozy cocktail. But I’ll be ordering the Sgroppino (and no, I can’t pronounce it either). It’s a sparkling cocktail with a scoop of lemon sorbet in it. Of course, the wine selection is excellent as well.


Every day, 4 pm - 6 pm and Thursday-Saturday, 10 pm - 12 am

$3 taps of Peroni

$4 - $5 Italian Classic Cocktails

$5 glasses of wine

Enjoy your next Happy Hour and remember to be safe! Always walk or get a ride home.