Seemingly every Portland restaurant worth its Malden salt has some sort of happy hour, but not all specials live up to the name. Delectable, inexpensive morsels might come with $9 cocktails, and bars often sacrifice liquor quality for cheaper drinks.

We were surprised to find, after a comprehensive survey, that our favorite happy hour is one that has been around for years and refrains from envelope-pushing. Carafe serves cheap, generous and good food and drinks—all we want at 5 pm on a Monday.

Carafe's Frenchiness is not the snobby, meticulous-gastronomy kind, but the average Pierre-Parisian-stopping-by-for-a-sandwich kind: You can get plump mussels, fries served in newspaper and a Lillet for nine bucks. Items like these or a croque monsieur ($3.95) aren't exactly refined, but they are well executed, satisfying and thrillingly Euro. The burger ($3.95), served on a Ken's mini ciabatta, is so juicy it squirted on my dining companion when he bit into it. An aperitif like Lillet (an herby-sweet white wine, $4) is refreshing and interesting but not stiff enough to get you loaded before sundown. If getting loaded before dark is actually your goal, knock back a couple of liquid-candy French martinis (vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, $4) and let loose the office gossip.
Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Friday (3-5 pm when there's a show at Keller Auditorium).

Ten 01
Here you get the same fresh ingredients and careful preparation that go into the dinners, minus the $30 price tag. Decadent chorizo burgers and exquisite classic cocktails are practically being given away at $5 each. Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Saturday.

50 Plates
Daily $6 drink and snack combos are anchored in Americana: sip remarkably balanced Manhattans with warm, chewy pretzels on Mondays, or Moscow mules with pimiento cheese toasts on "Thirst Days." Happy hour 3-6 pm Monday-Friday.

Specials across the board make it easy to try a little of everything. After a rough week at the office, you're going to need a Corpse Reviver No. 4. Buttery spaetzle with Gruyère will put you right back in the tomb ($5 each). Happy hour 5-7 pm nightly. 3652 SE Division St., 236-8755.