La Moule—a sister bar to French bistro St. Jack—is a love letter to the hyphenate French, a dim, drunky, sultry spot devoted to mussels and frites. Drinkers should walk through the well-lit front to the cozy '70s disco-blue back, which evolves from restaurant to bar somewhere around 10 pm, just in time for a late-night menu with cheaper bivalves. The most prominent decor feature is the gaudily deco wallpaper that looks like mussel shells split open to form a series of hearts—a valentine made of bivalves. Soccer-ball-sized bowls of mussels ($15-$17, $8 happy hour) are prettier in their shells than any tawdry Venus, the meat within so plump it's almost spherical. Tommy Klus' cocktails are mostly $8 to $10—about the same price as the Belgian import beers on tap—from a balanced gin-Aperol Sunday Morning ($9) that's like a Negroni made with cherries to a fine $9 Old Fashioned made with Heaven Hill 6-year bourbon. After showing up to dig deep into a bowl, you'll leave deep in the cups.
HAPPY HOUR: 5-6 pm and 10 pm-midnight daily. Full happy-hour menu including $10-$12 mussel frites, $5 rose, $2 Bavik pils half-pints, and $7 Heaven Hill Old Fashioned.