Beautiful, delicate dishes served in serene surroundings make Sushiko the Zen of happy hours. Ooh and aah (quietly) over the salmon ceviche—a little wooden box filled with cubes of raw salmon and Asian pear hidden under a jeweled mound of salmon roe. Equally lovely is the Hamachi crudo—slices of yellowtail sashimi fanned across a bed of grapefruit segments in a pool of orange ponzu. Panko-fried oysters, crunchy spicy tuna handroll, sushito yaki peppers; you can’t go wrong. Wash them down with ginger champagne
or a lychee martini, and leave feeling cool, calm and collected.
5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-961-1644; sushikorestaurants.com
One of the newest entrants in the tapas takeover is Botanero, a small plate restaurant and wine bar that opened in Rockville’s King Farm community in 2016. Whether it’s the congenial staff, the comfortably hip décor or the top-notch tapas, there’s a lot to like here. Don’t miss the deviled eggs topped with strips of julienned salami, crispy beef empanadas oozing with red wine-simmered ground beef and melted mozzarella, or the deep-fried chicken croquettes filled with pulled chicken and béchamel. And by all means, spring for the spicy-icy jalapeño margarita.
800 Pleasant Drive, Suite 160, Rockville; 240-474-5461; botanerorockville.com
At Trapezaria, you can down shots of ouzo, nibble on pita with spicy feta and learn Greek from the short tutorial on the happy hour menu, all at the same time. Dinner from the mezze selection should include the lamb tacos filled with tender pieces of braised lamb, and kalamakia, skewers of grilled chicken served with tzatziki and chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Efharistoh (thank you), Trapezaria, for a pleasant night at the bar.
11 N. Washington St., Rockville; 301-339-8962; thetrapezaria.com
There’s a fun neighborhood vibe at Scion, a Silver Spring restaurant owned by sisters Joanne and Julie Liu, who also run the adjacent NaiNai’s Noodle and Dumpling Bar. While Scion focuses on modern American cuisine, during happy hour it borrows the baos from next door, which include flavorful and sometimes fiery fillings of five-spice duck, Korean beef, Kung Pao tofu, pork belly or fried chicken. The duck and pork belly also show up in sliders. An eclectic list of draft beers completes this happy hour.
1200 East West Highway, Silver Spring; 301-585-8878; scionrestaurant.com
They don’t come in a red box with a smiley face, but the “Happy Meals” on Persimmon’s happy hour menu are guaranteed to satisfy. The choices: a nicely charred, cooked-to-order bistro burger; a mini blackened chicken club sandwich with bacon, fontina, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo; a loaded taco, or a short-rib slider. The extensive happy hour menu also includes “bistro bites,” featuring smaller portions of some of the restaurant’s terrific appetizers (such as the smoked trout spring rolls, the tuna and avocado tartare), as well as reduced-price salads, mussels, charcuterie and even dessert.
7003 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-9860; persimmonrestaurant.com