Sonny’s Restaurant and Lounge

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83 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine

Sonny’s Restaurant and Lounge really has everything we look for in a great place to hang out. They serve up amazing food blending locally sourced foods with cuisine inspired by far flung locales. They have honored the history of the space they inhabit by preserving a number of architectural features which remind you of its storied past. They also have a great patio dining space as they are adjacent to Post Office Park. You can enjoy great views in the heart of the Old Port while sipping on their deliciously crafted cocktails. Which brings us to our particular favorite feature of Sonny’s. The drink list! Packed with flavorful and unique concoctions to tickle any palate, the  drink list at Sonny’s is worth multiple visits. Get the Hot Mama. Trust us.

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Yep, that’s a vault up there. The space was once a bank.

Happy hour is the perfect time to ease into their list. They break it down to a few essential offerings at a great price point. For just $6 you can choose from a selection of cocktails. Many places only offer one drink on special so we love that you can pick from 4-5. If you are looking something a little lighter in alcoholic content they serve up house wine at $5 per glass or draft beers, all local, for $4. You can pair these with a $4 appetizer for a great happy hour experience. These specials are offered Monday – Friday from 4-6pm.

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Sloe gin fizz

The drinks offered do change from time to time so don’t be surprised if you see something different when you go. When we went we could choose from a traditional margarita, hot pepper margarita, sloe gin fizz, a rye press hill, or a greyhound. Something for every taste in spirit! We opted for the sloe gin fizz which came out bright pink and deliciously refreshing. It also felt wonderfully vintage to be sipping a cocktail that seems so old fashioned in Sonny’s gorgeous space. The greyhound was also delicious. Featuring vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit it was tart and immensely drinkable.

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Greyhound

To help balance out our drinks we also decided to check out the appetizer specials. You can get chips and salsa, yam or french fries with choice of dipping sauce or fried calamari. Perfect happy hour noshing. We ordered up a plate of french fries paired with garlic aioli which were so delicious they were devoured before they could be pictured. They are thinly sliced and crisp. Mmmm! The calamari was also scrumptious and thankfully we snapped a pic before digging in.

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Sonny’s is a great place and their happy hour just gives us one more reason among many to go visit it. Don’t worry if happy hour segues right into dinner. They’ve got you covered. Go check them out. You’ll soon find yourself there much more often.

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Lolita

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90 Congress Street, Portland, Maine

While we clearly love a great happy hour, we respect it when a restaurant chooses not to have one for whatever reason. It can be disappointing, but we get by. What we love is when a restaurant replaces it with something that is their own, and in someways even better. Lolita Vinoteca and Asador does just that every Monday night.

Perched atop Munjoy Hill in Portland’s East End, Lolita is a cozy, funky place that serves up cuisine influenced by the Mediterranean. It’s also the home of the best cure for a case of the Mondays. Every Monday night from 3:30 – 10:30 is tapas night. They select four pours, usually centered on a theme or region, and pair them with tasty tapas. All for only $5 each! Selections change weekly so you always have a reason to visit regularly.

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Drinks can range from a selection of wines, beers, or ciders. The evening we went the focus was on Portugal. We had the option of choosing between a white Port cocktail, a Vinho Verde, Vidigal Viho and a Val de Bonfin. These were accompanied by a selection of seven tapas, chosen by the chef. Since we were a larger party, we ordered a great selection and shared our tapas.

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We are suckers for a good vinho verde – so crisp and ever so lightly effervescent. Clearly, we picked the best night to tapas it up. While normally, the tapas aren’t quite big enough for sharing, with good friends it should be no problem. The bites are fairly small and really designed to go with each drink without overwhelming.

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From top left, clockwise: duck w/ tomato confit, Monkfish, ham croquettes, potatoes w/ cheese

Each of the small plates was all amazingly delicious and it was fun  to wait and see what would come out next. We had ham croquettes, potatoes with cheese, chorizo and white bean stew, monkfish, and duck with tomato. Not pictured, roasted red pepper with anchovy.

The standout drink of the evening was the white Port cocktail. We’d never even heard of white port before but now we are going to be on the lookout. It was simply made with Dow’s Port, tonic, and lemon with a simple lemon peel garnish. It was sweet and tangy, light but rich. Definitely an easy drinking cocktail. If you see it, order it! It was a little slice of sunshine on a cold and snowy day.

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We loved our tapas so much that we decided to order up some more drinks and dive into the regular menu offerings for dinner. Absolutely a great decision. From a creamy citrus accented Burrata to a standout frisee salad everything was excellent. Put Lolita on your regular rotation. You will not be sorry.

Lolita is one of those restaurants that make us wish we lived closer so it could be part of our every Monday routine. Thankfully for our wallets it isn’t, but we will be making sure to revisit often. You should too.

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