711 NE Dekum St., 954-1702, firehousepdx.com. 5-6 pm daily.
[PIZZA AND BEER] Once a place where overpaid government employees—excuse me, heroes—sat around playing cards and waiting for something to burst into flames, Firehouse is now where Portlanders on dates wait for the flames of a wood-fired oven to delicately char the edges of some of the city's best under-the-radar pizza. Wait early, and it's much cheaper. The first hour Firehouse is open, from 5 to 6, a splendidly charred pizza margherita is $6, which pairs quite nicely with a $3.50 Heater Allen Pilsner, a $6 house wine or a rotating $6 cocktail. Want sopressata on top of that pizza? Well, it's $11. Turns out the place can't discount the meat quite as much as the bread. Get a $3.50 side salad instead—fried cauliflower or salsa verde beets will do. MATTHEW SINGER.
Best deal: $6 margherita pizza, $3.50 Pilsner.
3808 N Williams Ave., 503-288-6200, lincolnpdx.com. 5:30-7 pm Tuesday-Friday.
[USE THE NOODLES] The impossibly crisp-on-the-outside and tender, sweet-on-the-inside cornmeal onion rings with pimento aioli ($6) are alone worth a trip to Lincoln. The fact that you can nab them off the happy-hour menu, alongside other staples from the regular menu like the creamy baked eggs ($6) or the handmade lumache pasta with whipped asparagus butter ($12), is a tasty opportunity not to be passed on. Tack on a $4 draft beer or $6 "bartender's choice" cocktail and you're made. PENELOPE BASS.
Best deal: The most expensive happy-hour item is also the best bargain: the $12 lumache, otherwise a $20 dish. At Lincoln, get the damn pasta.
Mama Mia Trattoria
439 SW 2nd Ave., 503-295-6464, mamamiatrattoria.com. 4-7 pm Monday-Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday.
[ALL COMFORT] Mama Mia is the kind of restaurant you only ever think about when you need somewhere to take your grandmother to dinner. With its decor of faux elegance—rows of chandeliers, gilded mirrors—and menu of the most basic Italian standards, it's the definition of a "safe bet," guaranteed neither to challenge nor offend. The downtown trattoria is hiding one of Southwest Portland's standout happy hours, at least in terms of deals. Available in the corner lounge, the menu more than halves its regular dinner prices while keeping the portions hearty. Everything is in the $3-to-$8 range, including the daily lasagna and manicotti, both of which come drowned in herby tomato sauce. Save room for the zeppole ($4.95 for six), balls of soft, fried dough dusted with powdered sugar, served with sides of jam and Nutella and delivered in an steel basket. Nana will assuredly think it's adorable. MATTHEW SINGER.
Best deal: A 7-inch personal pizza for $7.95.
Mother's Bistro & Bar
212 SW Stark St., 503-464-1122, mothersbistro.com. 3-7 pm Tuesday-Friday.
[DREAM-HOME COOKING] While Mother's Bistro aspires to an airy ladies-who-lunch elegance, its lushly brocaded Velvet Lounge caters to a convivial blend of apres-office tipplers by blending the aesthetic of madame's boudoir with an enlightened take on Mom's Diner fixins. Alongside the purchase of any beverage—say, a house-infused $6 cocktail like the spicily tart jalapeño-cilantro-steeped Dirty Rita or sweetly refreshing Lavender Silk (lavender-infused vodka, lemon juice, honey, Champagne float)—celeb chef Lisa Schroeder's $3.95 happy-hour menu ladles out an array of fun-sized, locally sourced, artisanal comfort staples. The hyper-creamed deviled eggs are sinfully indulgent, chopped liver and crackers offer a more-flavorful trad alternative to pâté, and perfectly crisped fried ravioli arrive bursting with cheese. JAY HORTON.
Best deal: The pairing of $3.95 pigs-in-a-blanket (bite-sized Hebrew Nationals swaddled in puff pastry) with a $6 craft-alcopop-nudging Mom's Lemon Drop allows an after-school snack just like nobody's mother has ever made.
1408 SW 6th Ave., 503-484-1099, nelcentro.com. 4-6 pm daily.
[HALF-PRICED PIZZA] When you see a $7 pizza on a hotel happy-hour menu, what you expect is a half-assed personal pie, a Frisbee you'd begrudgingly wolf down at an airport out of caloric necessity. Not at Nel Centro, David Machado's Southern European hotel spot whose generous happy hour lets you enjoy much of the lunch menu at a drastic discount—around 50 percent for most meals—surrounded by vacationing retirees on an umbrella-lined patio. Centro's beer list is much better than that of other Portland hotel bars, forgoing the recognizable dad-craft bottles for Commons Urban Farmhouse and Pfriem Pilsner on tap for a very reasonable $4 and a $6 rotating cocktail. WALKER MACMURDO.
Best deal: That $7 pizza gives you a tasty 12 inches of goat cheese, cherry tomato and basil on a thin crust, enough food for two if you aren't starving and easily shored up with a $6 wheel of hazelnut-crusted goat's cheese with fixins. Washing it down with a $4 Pfriem feels like a steal.
1401 SE Morrison St., 503-234-2427, nostrana.com. 9 pm-close nightly.
The late-night happy hour at O.C.-vibed Nostrana is perhaps Portland's most perfect locale for socially ambitious cheapskates, with the famous pizzas only $7 if you're cool with unadorned margheritas and marinaras, the pasta al forno an equally cheap $7, and a mini-charcuterie plate for $5. The gin comes with housemade tonic for $5 as well—no irritating $2.50 upcharge for Fever Tree as at many houses of fancy tonic—and house wines are the same $5. If you don't let your date see the menu, he'll think you're fancy. If you do, she'll think you're shrewd. Either way, you win. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Best deal: The house red and a margherita pizza make a great $12 meal deal.
2112 NW Kearney St., 503-221-1195, serratto.com. 4-6 pm daily.
[BUTTON-DOWN PASKETTI] Serratto is like the Nob Hill neighborhood's idea of a living room during happy hour—upscale on the cheap, though the favorite remains an $9 succulent, medium-rare half-pound burger with every version of fat, salt and sugar: beef, bacon, brioche, barbecue sauce and fried onion. It comes with fries—no happy-hour stinting here, as evidenced also by a generously poured $6 margarita (which can be swapped for a $6 cosmo or lemon drop, if that's you). The $5 house wines are table wines in the European style—unobtrusive, decent—better paired with the $8 spaghetti and meatballs. The latter is not as decadent as the burger, but when that's what you crave, nothing else will do. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Best deal: $9 burger, $8 spaghetti.