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2829 Southwest Boulevard, 816-931-4849
3–6 p.m. daily
It's been 25 years since childhood friends Ron Abarca and Dave Quirarte opened the flagship location of their local Mexican-food mini empire. Since then, three floods have struck the Southwest Boulevard institution, and each time they've rallied, coming back to serve tacos and margaritas to hordes of folks. Beat the meal crowds at happy hour, when the headline specials are $1.75 drafts, $2.75 domestic and import bottles, and $3.75 frozen or on-the-rocks margaritas, which come in lime, strawberry, banana, raspberry, mango, pomegranate, peach, prickly pear or passion fruit. Soak up the bebidas with $4.50 nachos; $4 guacamole or spicy cheese dip; and $1 ground-beef or chicken mini tacos. The service is fast and friendly, and the bartenders don't roll their eyes at your thirst for frozen drinks.
12 West 63rd Street, 816-361-8841
3-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Saturday, 3-9 p.m. Friday
No joke: Everybody loves Hooper's. The popular Brookside hangout is old enough now that kids who were there with their parents in the '90s are already coming home from college and moving back in with them. They can blame the economy all they want, but folks of all ages know they can always get a fist bump and a cheap beer at Charlie Hooper's, especially during happy hour, which has $3.50 Boulevard drafts, $3.25 wells, $3 house wine and $2 domestic drafts. Want food? Try $3.99 fried mushrooms, pita pizzas, hummus or sliders. Hooper's is family-friendly. A good game is almost always on, and you can play Big Buck Hunter. Chances are, you'll run into someone you know from the 'hood. See ya at Hooper's, brah.
1727 McGee, 816-421-1634
4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
A pleasant surprise is always waiting to be discovered at the Brick. The occasional fried-green-tomato BLT on the lunch-specials menu, a kung fu classic flickering from the TVs — these are the little things that people cherish about this Crossroads mainstay. So it's almost easy to forget that, at any given moment, it's one of the cheapest places to drink downtown, especially at quitting time. "Honestly, our happy-hour prices today are actually cheaper than when we opened in 1999," proprietor Sheri Parr says. That means $1 cans, $2 wells, $3 imports and Boulevard drafts, and $5 specialty cocktails (such as the Ginger Rogers: ginger vodka, rose water, blood-orange liqueur and soda water). Parr and her staff also serve up a seasonal $4 "Drink of the Week," which might be a lavender lemonade or a kiwi-cilantro-lime rickey. It's speakeasy-style without the douche bags or the huge price tags.
McCormick and Schmick's
448 West 47th Street, 816-531-6800
4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
A true player will tell you that McCormick and Schmick's is the place for the power happy hour. The crowd is well-dressed, well-connected and, by the end of the two hours, generally well-lit. The discount on drinks is paltry ($4.95 Boulevard Pale Ale, $6.95 Three Olives lemon drop martini), but that just means you can drink like someone with an expense account. Actually, the secret to the Plaza location's happy hour is its ultra-inexpensive food: $1.95 fish tacos or spinach dip; $2.95 half-pound cheeseburgers; $3.95 Buffalo wings or fried-chicken sliders; and $4.95 ceviche, calamari or steamed mussels. These are the things that make up for $3.95 Coors Light drafts. This isn't where you go to complain about prices, anyway. It's about the special occasions and sealing the deal.