Quick Sips: Graffiato

 

Finding a good happy hour in Chinatown sometimes feels like Goldilocks. Bars in Chinatown often are crowded, have lackluster happy hour deals, or are often rented out for events because of their proximity to the convention center. But, Graffiato’s is juuuust right.

 

I’ve been by here a few times for happy hour and once for dinner, and, if you’re looking for Italian food with a bit of flair this might just be the perfect place. Their happy hour is admirable, and roomy! Unlike a lot of Chinatown bars, this bar is long and has TONS of seating. I have often been at Graf’s during peak times and had no issue finding a seat at the bar. Plus, the bar chairs have backs, which, if you slouch a little like me…is perfect.

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The happy hour menu is also nothing to sneeze at. Not only does it have wine (prosecco, white, rose, or red) and drafts fot $5, they also have a few cocktails for only 6 (the Brown Derby, the Tony Starr 2.0, and a daily-changing happy hour punch).

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In addition to a wide variety of drinks to choose from on happy hour, they also have a lot of food for a reasonable price. They have their “bites” menu on special for $5.

For this happy hour, my friends started with red wine while I opted for the daily punch. This time around, the punch was a fruity and cinnamon mix with vodka. Although the initial combination of honey, grapefruit, and cinnamon sounded bizarre, I wanted to give it a try and was NOT disappointed. I liked the intial fruitiness and thought the kick of cinnamon added a fun twist to what would otherwise be a common cocktail. Although I didn’t partake in the red wine, it got two thumbs up.

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We also decided to get a few apps: the fried mozzarella, the meatballs, and the pepperoni knots. The mozzarella is PERFECT, seriously. They are grown up mozzarella sticks that come with arugula pesto, saba, and chili flake that add a great dimension of flavor. This is my “must” order and I’ve gotten it at every visit to Graf’s.

After we polished off the mozz, we were ready for more so we ordered another round of drinks. This time, I went with a white wine which turned out to be a  light chardonnay that paired perfectly (or, at least in my mind it did) with our meatballs. The meatballs are really fresh and not bready. They are a classic and the marinara sauce they come with has the perfect amount of chunk.

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Finally, we decided to order the pepperoni knots, which were another grown up take on a kid classic. One of my friends compared them to hot pockets. It is pepperoni wrapped up inside the most delicate bread that has just barely browned and is covered in garlic salt.

One thing to note about the apps is the size. I think they are pretty generous for only $5, and would easily fill up two people. But, as one of my compatriots at Graf’s noted…it can be hard to split a lot of the apps among the 3 of us….because there were 4 of everything! Luckily, we just shared the extra and were all pleased with the sizing. I think it would be perfect to split for 2 and works for 3. If you’re planning on splitting with more than 3 people, I’d suggest ordering 3-5 apps.

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Overall, the vibe at Graffiato is relaxed and low key. It is busy or loud, the service is great, and the food and drinks are not only affordable, but delicious. As people that love a happy hour with a lot of options, Graffiato’s wins top marks from me!