BOKA's More of a Lounge, Albeit One With Virtual Golf

After one sip of the smoky hibiscus margarita, we all agreed it was worth veering from the designated discount libations.

Entering BOKA to the sounds of Jamiroquai and Astrud Gilberto, we, a displaced, fairly cosmopolitan lot from back East, found ourselves at home. "Ambience, finally," my friend commented. There, polyester-clad man-boys and their female counterparts are refreshingly absent. The crowd is sophisticated, the vibe hip and low-key, the decor understated and moody. We immediately agreed that BOKA was more of a lounge, albeit one where you can play a few free rounds of virtual golf. As for happy hour, draft beers and select wines are $3, while classic well drinks are $4.75. The signature cocktails aren't discounted, but after one sip of the smoky hibiscus margarita, made with añejo tequila and hibiscus syrup, and a cocktail called Fresh—a light and refreshing creation made with gin, mint, lime, soda, and muddled cucumber (both $9)—we all agreed it was worth veering from the designated discount libations. The "urban bites" are half off during happy hour and served amuse-bouche style. The delicately flavored Dungeness crab cupcakes with crème fraîche and saffron salt ($5/$2.50 during happy hour) offered a hint of sweetness balanced by the tang of the cream; and the subtle saffron finish was a hit. The truffle fries with garlic aioli ($7/$3.50) were divine; and the grilled cheese and soup ($10/$5), made with cave-aged Gruyère, also made our list of favorites. With the flavorful tomato bisque that accompanies the sandwich, the dish almost reaches the heights of fine dining. The menu changes seasonally, so expect a few new entries every couple of months. And while standard late afternoon/early evening happy hours apply (3–6 p.m.), if you don't get enough hip (or virtual golf) in the afternoon, you can do it all again from 10 p.m. to midnight. 1010 First Ave., 357-9000, www.bokaseattle.com. DOWNTOWN

 
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