Marcus' Martini Heaven

If you arrive early to happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday), dive into this dark Euro-cavern and snag a prime spot on the leather couch under the lionfish in the glittery saltwater tank. But don't fret—the bar's five varieties of $3.75 martinis taste just as good when sipped on a barstool next to the guppies. The Rorschach-like cocktail menu revealed that I'm a "Lightweight"; my vodka came mixed with the tart combo of triple sec and cranberry and grapefruit juice. Delicious, although I silently aspired to be more of a "Dirty" girl, like my friend. (Unfortunately, the briny taste of green olive juice leaves me feeling more pickled than refreshed.) The short menu (all $2 off) features favorite local ingredients in either their natural or sandwiched forms: Salumi meats and cheeses, Mama Lil's peppers, Grand Central Bakery bread, and Cafe Paloma hummus. The grilled paninis ($4) are warm and crunchy, with enough oozy cheese to hold in the salami or peppers. We were more pleased with the cheese plate than the meat plate (both $5); the cheeses possessed a stronger personality, and the crackers had a flakier texture. Beer and well drinks are also discounted $1, but hey—this is martini heaven, and the deep red walls and elevator-techno tunes practically demand a swanky drink in a stemmed glass. 88 Yesler Way, 206-624-3323. PIONEER SQUARE

 
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