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Happy Hour Scene: Beaucoup Bar & Grill

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The Place: Beaucoup Bar & Grill 3102 Old Spanish Trail 713-747-5100 http://www.beaucoupbarandgrill.com

The Hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays

The Deals: Lots of them. Discounts on mixed drinks, mostly - check "Bar Features" section of Beaucoup's website

The Scene: If you're giving up drinking for Lent - which, by the way, should preclude you from drinking Jesus's alcoholic blood during Mass - you've got an even better excuse to wild out on Mardi Gras.

Except in Houston, there's not much wilding out to be had on Fat Tuesday. Last year I caught Hustlers Brass Band at Big Top with about ten other people. This year, there was even less -- a couple of small bar parties and an in-name-only celebration at the House of Blues.

Next best thing is an all-day happy hour at a Creole place. Beaucoup, which the Houston Press named Best Cajun Restaurant last year, sits on a semi-isolated part of Old Spanish Trail between the Med Center and 288. You order at the bar and grab a seat in the dining area. On Tuesday, the crowd featured neighborhood families and groups of friends, lively but not loud, some drinking at the bar but not to holiday excess.

I got a shrimp po-boy, gumbo and a beer. Of course, I'm not the one giving up drinking, or I would have started an IV drip of whiskey. My dining companion, however, was facing a few dry weeks, so a hurricane was in order. For some reason, the bartender couldn't do one on the rocks, but the frozen version worked. As for the po-boy, the extra-soft bread wasn't what you'd expect from a traditional one, but it was still delicious. The chicken and sausage gumbo was smoky and tasted like it came out of some Gulf Coast grandma's kitchen.

After eating, I downed about half of the second hurricane my friend had ordered. I was taking a bullet; I know you shouldn't mix too much sugar (which, like most hurricanes, this had plenty of) with booze. Of course, I also know you shouldn't mix too many prescription painkillers with booze, or too attractive of a second cousin at a family reunion with booze, but no one takes bullets for me. I count that as a mixed blessing.

We finished up and headed to a bar for standard Tuesday debauchery, ending precisely at midnight. There's always St. Paddy's Day, at least for those of us who avoid making real sacrifices for Lent.


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