Happy Hour Scene: Cielo Mexican Bistro

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We had the wind knocked out of our sails, or stomach or lungs or whatever, on a Tuesday night trip to Cielo Mexican Bistro downtown, at 300 Main St.

It started with a late night in the office and me desperately wanting to not go to Midtown. One of our own society columnists suggested Cielo, because he had been there recently and said the service was impeccable, and the reverse happy hour at night, from 9 p.m. to close, worked perfect.

"You should try the sangria for Christmas," he said, then gave us a short speech about port wine and spices.

Then we remembered Chris Vogel's shining review of the restaurant from last spring, which called his waiter "animated and engaging," sounding like a great combination with a tall glass of Christmas sangria.

We must have gone on a bad night. 

We called to make sure that Cielo was open, since it was a holiday week, and the guy that answered the phone told us that the restaurant no longer did reverse happy hour and closing time was 10 p.m.

"That's ridiculous!" our society columnist said when we told him.

The man that answered our second phone call said reverse happy hour was on, and that the restaurant usually closed at 11 p.m., but that they were trying to leave early. We showed up at about 9:30, and two other groups of people were in the restaurant. We asked the bartender if we had time to get a couple drinks. "Yeah, I think for another 30 minutes," he told us, hesitating.

That was at least enough time to get a margarita ($4.50), we thought. It tasted like a lemonade slushy to us. When another group of people came in to order, we figured that would give us enough time to order some food off the happy hour menu, and we're glad we did.

We had the pico quesadillas and calamari (both $1.95), along with the spinach and brie quesadillas ($4.50). Each of the appetizers tasted good and were out of the kitchen in about five minutes, which is a good thing when the bartender is breathing down your neck.

After we finished the food and a couple of people walked out, we started feeling guilty for keeping anyone there late, so we asked for the bill and left. The bartender wished us a Merry Christmas and we smiled, walking out the door thirsty for sangria.

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