Mirá! Lounge

Filling the basement space in Belltown's Labor Temple, this Spanish-themed bar attracts unionists from upstairs, scruffy-chic Belltowners, and the business-suit crowd, especially during its dual happy hours, weeknights from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. Mirá! is a hipster stronghold in the making, but the service doesn't have that acerbic Hill tude; instead, it's friendly and jokey. The decor is a riot, in the positive sense: Ample couches that seem recently lifted off the lawn of some Capitol Hill yard sale, paintings of laughing ladies that are somehow both maudlin and wry, and a soundtrack consisting primarily of "lifestyle music"—e.g., Morcheeba—that's such a lounge cliché that its very cliché-ness becomes cool. Sadly, the food is mixed. The "Average Potato Fries" ($2) are just a few cuts above Ore-Ida; the pita plate ($3.50) skimps on the hummus and olive tapenade, and the pita triangles themselves have been baked to a too-hard crisp. Even the prawn-artichoke-jalapeño dip ($4.50) is mostly a bust: cheesy and salty, yes, but all three strong flavors get lost in the shuffle. Luckily, the low prices justify almost any expenditure. Well drinks, house wines by the glass, and draft beers are all just $3, and the entire bar menu (including the above selections) is half off. 2800 First Ave., 206-448-8833. BELLTOWN

 
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