KwaTay’s Restaurant and Lounge
315 1st Ave. N.
Is there a more enduring food service concept, fraught with both lovers and haters of it, than what is popularly known as “happy hour”? Clearly this novelty was established to generate some needed revenue during the lull of the early to late afternoon, especially for bar proprietors that also serve food who have an interest in filling their cash registers as much as possible before the night rush happens. In some more refined locations it seems to be a dying breed, but like a pesky cockroach, it will find a place to scurry into and stay for as long as possible until its flushed out and the life is stomped out of it.
The key allure of happy hour is definitely the reduced prices of regular menu items. Food and drink inclusive. At times, ridiculously low that even some drab surroundings, dubious service and a sense that you wouldn’t have stepped foot inside had it not been for the prices, are not enough to deter you from walking back through the entry door. As you can see by the spartan space pictured above, that was more dance floor than restaurant dining area, you wouldn’t come to a place like this for the ambiance. I’m sure you wouldn’t be at all shocked to hear that this is the kind of place that offers beer by the bucket as a crowd drawing special.
Located across from the seriously declining Key Arena in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, is KwaTay’s – a self described African restaurant featuring cuisine from the nations of Ghana and Tanzania. And from 3pm through 7pm, Tuesday through Friday, its happy hour. And for some travelers who’d spent the better part of three hours on the highway and in dire need of a cold one or two before heading down to Safeco Field, it was just what we wanted. Cheap drinks and a few nibbles. Food was pretty much half off, and my partner and I just about coughed up a lung from the hilarity of the overly friendly bartender as he pointed at each of the beer bottles on the top row of the alcohol wall and rattled off two and three dollar amounts. If there is something to love about America, it certainly is their cheap beer.
Looking to go local, I opted to start with a Widmer Hefeweizen (Oregon). Their flagship product is a bright but cloudy unfiltered wheat beer and keep to their claim of being America’s original Hefeweizen. Apparently it has been judged in competitions such as the Beer Cup and come away with some top level medals in recent years. It was light, refreshing (aided by the slice of lemon), and reminded me of say a Big Rock Grasshopper, without the earthy notes. I could have easily gone for a second, but decided to switch to another one the rack, a Redhook ESB (Washington). It was much more hoppy in nature, a touch peppery but still a smooth amber ale. If I had to rate by preference, the Widmer wins out here head-to-head.
The selection of beverages was wide and varied. Even this Malta Guinness, more soft drink than beer, as its non-alcoholic but made with pretty much the same kind of ingredients as beer.
And lastly the food. Unlike some other blogs out there, we’re not always only here for it so on this visit it was an afterthought, as our minds were still spinning from the low priced brew and some more we were expected to get at the ball game. To check out the kitchen and to spend some more money as it just seemed we were taking advantage of the drinking deal, we looked at the top of the appetizers listing which was the kabobs. Chicken, beef, goat and lamb were the choices. And for three bucks for two sticks, it felt right. Interspersed between some tender and well marinated and spicy seasoned chunks of beef was a mix of crunchy vegetables roasted off nicely as well. The heat went well with the cool drinks and if we had more time (and a greater appetite) I’m sure we would have challenged some of the other staples of Ghanaian cuisine such as their stews, rice and corn dishes.
As we checked our watches and realized we were running a bit tight on schedule to make first pitch, we once again had a laugh at the bill tally and calculation, as it just seemed unfair to have only been charged so little. It was almost as if the amusing barkeep had made a math error. If you’re ever in the area and are looking for a great deal on drinks, KwaTay’s is one I’d recommend on variety and price alone. No guarantees on the service or atmosphere though, as honestly you could end up drinking at the bar with no other customers around for hours, as we did this afternoon…