Happy Hour Scene: Farrago

The Place: Farrago
318 Gray St.

The Hours: Monday 4-close. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 4-7 p.m. All day Thursday.

The Deals: Domestic beers are $2.50 and house wine is $3.50. Well drinks and frozen mojitos are $4.50. Appetizers are half price when ordered at the bar, and on Mondays, the bar offers some specials on bottles of wine.

The Scene: When someone told us about the great Thursday happy hour at Farrago in Midtown, she said it was one of the area's best kept secrets, and when we showed up to an empty bar on Thursday, it certainly appeared that way.

It wasn't exactly peak-time when we got there, though, and it was obvious the lunch crowd had just cleared out. (We've been to Farrago before when it was packed during lunchtime.) The bartender told us that Thursday happy hour starts to pick up at about 5 o'clock.

And the place wasn't completely empty. There were two men in white button-down shirts and ties sitting at the bar, drinking waters and chatting up the bartender.

Farrago, at the corner of Gray and Bagby streets, isn't a big place, and the inside is the standard steel and stone that seems to be popular in the area. There are a few tables outside, too.

Farrago considers its menu "world cuisine," and our dining companion had the Goat Cheese Brulee ($8, not happy hour price). She enjoyed it, calling the salad "good and fresh."

In fact, Farrago means "a mix of everything" in Portuguese. That's what the bartender told us, at least, and somehow from there, without even mentioning this week's cover story in the Houston Press, we started talking about violence in Mexico.

The bartender has family along the border and in Monterrey, and she hasn't been able to visit in a couple years because it's too dangerous.

Last time she was there, for example, she saw one of her high school classmates driving a nice Cadillac. "I thought he must have really been doing good for himself," the bartender told us.

Then she saw in the news that the man had been found, decapitated, in a river. Her friends who still live there can't go to bars anymore, or do much of anything.

"They say it's like living in a movie sometimes. It's doesn't seem real," she said. "It's sad because we used to go every month. You could bring $100 and that would pay for your weekend. Not anymore."

Drink here? Yes, especially if we stop by and the bar is empty, because the bartender is full of great stories and suggestions on where to find authentic Mexican food.

The bartender also said Farrago's weekend brunch is great. Bottomless mimosas until 3 p.m. for $9. Not a big selling point for us, but definitely good to know.

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