The Place: Charlie Hooper's, 12 W. 63rd St., 816-361-8841.
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: Monday to Sunday, 3 to 7 p.m. On Fridays, it's 3 to 9 p.m. The Vibe
: Charlie Hooper's has the wood-paneled feel that T.G.I. Friday's hires a consultant to achieve. It's a combination sports bar and neighborhood bar, meaning it draws from four decades of drinkers. Tables tend to be either a cluster of men or women.
The back room is as likely to host a work function as a party, although
if it's not in use, it tends to be a bit quieter. The khaki-and-button-down set eventually morphs into the backwards hat, American Eagle crowd, but usually not until after happy hour.
The Food: While the kitchen isn't quite at the level it was a few years ago, this is still better than average pub fare. Five appetizers are $3.99 and most are big enough to share -- if you get two, you'll be more than full. The fried mushrooms are almost like corn fritters, with a thick, slightly sweet batter and a nuclear-hot sauteed mushroom inside; ranch dressing rescues the tongue.
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Hummus is homemade, a potent blend of chickpeas and garlic -- it's tasty, but avoid it if you're planning on kissing anyone in the next 48 hours. The pita pizza (veggie or pepperoni) has a pleasant bit of kick. People in the booths next to me ordered the wings, which came out the fiery red of Tabasco and made me wish I'd seen them before ordering. The Drinks
: Domestic drafts are $2, Boulevard Wheat and IPA are $3.50, and imported drafts are $4. House wine is $3, well drinks are $3.25 and a glass of pinot grigio is $4.50. The Plan
: You can always find a table as the happy hour crowd is solid but not
jammed-in. But we recommend grabbing a seat at the bar and hanging on to your stool for the night. The bartenders are friendly and are likely to buy you a drink if you tip well and have a particularly good or bad story.