The Hours: Friday 5-7p.m. Happy Hour schedule varies. Be sure to check the Westlake calendar for upcoming events.
Since Whole Foods has built its yuppie dynasty on all things fair-trade, free-range and fat free, it should come as no surprise that the organic market opts for a culinary twist on their happy hour specials. Food, not booze, takes center stage here.
Held in the café kitty-corner to the registers, customers mull over their options (one pound or two?); place their order; grab a number; and file into the dining area. It's an airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows and corkboards announcing the latest community news. But aside from the co-op feel of the space, happy hour at Whole Foods is surprisingly more animated than most downtown bars on a Friday night. And the locale is treated as such. You won't witness any drunken brawls or sloppy exchanges, but there is a certain social feel to the cafeteria. Cornish students, businessmen and young couples mingle over hot plates of food.
The Deal: Prices vary depending on the Happy Hour special, but this week's menu offered boiled shrimp for $5 a pound with an optional side of garlic bread for an additional $1. Bottled beer is also available for just $1.99.
Each basket of shrimp is sautéed with corn, beets and cubes of tomato. Buttery slices of garlic bread are toasted with cheese and left to soak in the light sauce. It's impossible to walk away without splitting at the sides.
The Verdict: You'll be met with grim stares if you ask for half a pound of shrimp instead of a full order. And it is a bit of a buzz-kill saddling up to a bar at the center of a bustling grocery store. But to sample fine cuisine at take-out prices, Whole Foods happy hours are worth the cafeteria lineup. For once you won't spend your "whole" paycheck at this elitist superstore.