Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Hour, Happy Stomach at Del Frisco's Grille

Del Frisco's Grille
772 Spectrum Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618

One of the questions that I get a lot in your emails is, "Where is there a good happy hour?" To be honest, I rarely go out for happy hour. Katie has to work til 6pm almost everyday, so that means I would have to drive myself to a happy hour spot, drink alone or meet up with a friend, and then behave myself and only have one or two drinks, so I can drive home under the limit. Also, most of the time happy hour food items underwhelm me. That was until me and my good friend Danny were invited to try out Del Frisco's Grille's version of happy hour.

Del Frisco's is a part of the Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, which also includes Sullivan's Steakhouse, and Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse. I haven't eaten at either of these, but I've heard great things about them. This DFG opened at the Irvine Spectrum over a year ago now, and they recently added a happy hour menu to the delight of many of their regulars. We reviewed them the first of this year, when we ate here on New Years Eve. You can see that review here.

The Spectrum is a big place, so if you are coming here for happy hour, it's best to park in the parking structure nearest Nordstrom's, and exit the structure near the valet stand. Located right next door to Brio, Del Frisco's is easy to get to, and you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the main part of the Spectrum.

When we walked in here at just after 4pm, the restaurant was near empty, but that changed rather quickly as the after work crowd congregated in the comfortable bar area to take advantage of the Sip and Share Happy Hour promotion. This is the first DFG location where they offer happy hour, and according to General Manager Katie Pavkov, the early buzz has been overwhelmingly positive. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday 4pm to 6:30, and is offered in the bar only. Danny and I were excited to experience it for ourselves, so we headed to one of the high top tables, with a great view of the basketball game on TV, and ordered almost everything on the happy hour menu.

Before we showcase the culinary exploits of the happy hour menu, we started things off with some cocktails. Danny selected the White Sangria ($6 during happy hour or $12 the rest of the day) to start off with. I'm usually not much into wine based cocktails, but this one was delicious. Pinot Grigio was the base for this, and then they added white peach puree, peach schnapps, and garnished it with a strawberry peach Popsicle. Very refreshing, and not overly sweet. This kind of brought a little touch of summer to this December afternoon. I ordered The VIP ($6) because I wanted to be a VIP for once in my life. This concoction consisted of sweet Hawaiian gold pineapple-infused Svedka Clementine Vodka. When this arrived I was afraid this was going to be over the top sweet, but it was mellower than I imagined, and went down rather easily. I wanted another one, but the food started coming out, so I ultimately saved some space for the happy hour grub.

If you are an ardent fan of this blog, you know that I'm pretty partial to the ahi tacos here at Del Frisco's Grille, but sadly they are not offered on the happy hour menu. There are tacos on their happy hour menu though, Asian Street Tacos ($6). These tacos definitely brought to mind a bahn mi sandwich. It had plenty of barbecued pork, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and chiles. The sauce provided was good, but I really enjoyed their very well done chipotle ranch paired with these. Really good tacos, and hard to limit ourselves to only one order of these.

Almost as iconic as DFG's ahi tacos, their Cheesesteak Eggrolls ($6) luckily were included on their happy hour menu. These taste just as they sound, like the insides of a cheesesteak wrapped in an eggroll wrapper. I'm always astonished that these are not as greasy as I imagine them to be, and they still feature the best part of a cheesesteak, the meat. These come with a spicy mustard sauce and a very well made sweet and spicy chili sauce, which has a great yin and yang thing going for it. These are a must try when coming to happy hour here.

If any of you enjoy blue cheese, you need to try these Buffalo Blue Cheese Chips ($6). House made potato chips are doused with a buffalo wing sauce, then sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles. Something so simple, but yet very addicting. The blue cheese kind of overpowered here, but these chips were mellowed out with an avocado ranch dressing. I could see these chips becoming the next flavor that the guys at Lay's use in their yearly contest to come up with new flavors.

DFG went a little south of the border on their next happy hour item, the Pulled Pork Nachos ($6). This mini nacho skillet started with some very sturdy tortilla chips as a base, then they were topped with jalapenos, crema, something that appeared to be taco seasoning, cheese, cilantro and pulled pork. I really enjoyed this, especially the top layer, where all the flavors were co-mingled. The pork here is very good, with a nice natural flavor to it. This was Danny's favorite food item of the night.

Up next were the misnamed on the menu Frites ($6). These were actually a mixture of frites, which is the fancy way of saying french fries, and sweet potato fries. I'm not really into sweet potato fries, but these were some of the best I have had. I'm not yet a convert to this variety of fries, but I would not thumb my nose at having these again. The regular fries were much more to my style, as they were seasoned just enough, and went well with the chipotle ranch dipping sauce provided. I also had to keep Danny from snaking the little squeeze bottle of ketchup from the restaurant. You can't bring Danny anywhere.

The last happy hour food item we had on this afternoon were these Wagyu Corndogs ($6). I was very skeptical about these when they came to the table, but they turned out to be pretty good. The hot dog inside was beefy, and the batter on the outside, along with being crunchy, had a great flavor to it, even better than the ones you can get at the mall. Both dipping sauce were good, but I enjoyed the better than most honey mustard sauce with these, and I'm not even a mustard person.

With our stomachs full from all that we had eaten, we wanted to have another round, just so we could finish watching the basketball game and enjoy the happy hour atmosphere at Del Frisco's Grille. I went with the Dutch Mule ($12, and not on the happy hour menu). This twist on the very popular Moscow mule still used ginger beer and mint, but also added some Nolet's Silver Gin and was garnished with a slice of grapefruit. This was good, but I'd probably stick with the standard version, which I've had here before. The grapefruit kind of threw this off for me. I really liked Danny's beverage selection better, the Apt 5D ($12, also not on the happy hour menu). This vodka based drink also came with fresh strawberries, lemon sour, simple syrup, and a dash of balsamic, which helped even this out. I liked the balance of this, but Danny thought it was on the sweeter side.

Both Danny and I really enjoyed this happy hour at Del Frisco's Grille. It's really a great option for people in the Irvine area, who want to take a break from a long day at work, shopping at the Spectrum, or just want to have some really good food. The Sip and Share happy hour program here is also very economical as well. All of the happy hour items we had on this afternoon would have only set us back  $48, and there was easily enough food here for more than just us two. Also not shown, but offered on the happy hour menu are their very good flatbreads and deviled eggs, which are also $6. All draft beer is $5, and there's also a selection of spirits and wines that are offered at the affordable $6 price point as well. Basically something for everyone is offered here. Now when someone asks me about a great happy hour spot, Del Frisco's Grille will be near the top of my list.

Both Danny and I would like to thank everyone that we encountered on this afternoon at Del Frisco's Grille. They took such great care of us, along with their other guests, and they made sure we had everything that we needed during our stay. A special thanks to our good friend, General Manager Katie Pavkov for an excellent afternoon of catching up, and showcasing her wonderful restaurant. We'd also like to thank Executive Chef, the very talented Sarah Daniels for taking the time to come out and say hello during the start of the dinner rush. It was much appreciated Sarah. We'd also like to thank the food runners, bartenders, and other management who stopped by to say hello. You all make a great a team.

If you would like to experience Del Frisco's Grille, and their happy hour for yourself, you can find out more about them by going to their website here:

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