Table filled with an eclectic spread of American dishes

6 stellar spots with great food deals

Nibble on these dishes without taking a bite out of your budget.

The cost of going out — especially to a nice place — has gotten steep, but happy hours throughout the Valley offer the perfect window to sample the city’s best cuisine without taking a bite out of your budget. The key is knowing which restaurants and resorts offer deals and when to take advantage of them. (Note: Some offers are only good in the bar/lounge at some places; make sure to ask the staff before you’re seated.) Here is a guide to our favorite picks to integrate into your weekly routine.

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Buck & Rider

When: 3-7 p.m. daily

This perennial hotspot is devoted to serving sustainable seafood, and the happy hour menu doesn’t veer from the course. Start with oysters for $2.25 each and Sea of Cortez wild shrimp for $3. Then, dive into deep deals for just $10, like a heaping platter of shrimp ceviche or Voodoo Fried Rice with shrimp, organic chicken, peas, gochujang, and red fresnos. You might also see a sushi roll or smoked trout dip. Wash everything down with a specialty cocktail for only $10, like the Direct Martini, served tableside from a bottle of St. George vodka encased in a sleeve of ice. (Three locations in Gilbert, Phoenix, and Scottsdale)

Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion

When: 5-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Christopher Gross is one of the Valley’s most esteemed chefs, and his eponymous French-inspired restaurant is at the top of the heap, both in quality and price — dinner for two easily runs into the hundreds. But last year, he debuted a “petits plates” menu that lets diners experience his culinary chops at the chef’s counter or on the breathtaking patio for up to 90 minutes. Marvel at the stunning setting, including a jaw-dropping view and classy ambiance, while enjoying marinated warm olives ($10), smoked salmon BLT ($14), merguez and couscous ($16), escargot ($18), foie gras terrine ($18), or vanilla-dusted scallop ($24). Pro tip: Don’t miss the view from the bathroom. (2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix)

The Collins Small Batch Kitchen

When: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

It is hard to beat the variety of elevated dishes and drinks at cut-rate prices at this stylish Biltmore-area favorite helmed by Chef Christopher Collins. Nothing is over $16, from the delicate shrimp risotto ($13) to the zesty shrimp cocktail ($14 for half a dozen). The onion dip and chips ($9) and backyard guac ($10) fit the bill for vegetarians. Carnivores will go wild for BBQ chicken sliders ($10), shaved prime rib, and brie sliders with truffle aioli, and spicy tomato jam ($12), or short rib mac ’n’ cheese ($14). The impressive spread includes an extensive and well-chosen list of wines by the glass for $10, draft beers for $5, and cocktails for $12. (3160 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix)

Kaizen

When: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Located in the industrial-chic Lawrence Building, Kaizen feels cozy despite the warehouse digs, with exposed brick and metal tables. That’s probably because the staff here couldn’t be more friendly or gracious. The love extends to the massive happy hour selection, which includes half-off all small plates (which are pretty hearty), several sushi rolls, and a few signature plates. We’re talking creamy, crunchy snow crab wontons for $8, silky “hane” gyoza with a crisp, lacy veil topper for $6, and a sweet-and-savory dragon roll for $8.50, among many other steals. The upscale wine, beer, and cocktail list is all half off, too, so craft beer is $4, and a nine-ouncer of wine is $10 or less. (515 E. Grant St. No. 100, Phoenix)

Person enjoying a cocktail by a sunny window.

Fat Ox

When: 4-6:30 p.m. daily

“Aperitivo Hour” here is a veritable tour of Chef Matt Carter’s prowess with Italian food (he’s also a whiz with Latin at The Mission and French at Zinc Bistro). And he’s not afraid to put his spin on it: Try Burrata di Stephano ($14) with crispy pine nut salsa verde, shishito pepper, roasted garlic, and mint, for instance. Grilled shrimp and beef tartare also get Carter’s signature flourishes, but for more traditional trays, go for Affettati Misti ($20), a shareable, top-quality meat and cheese board, or veal meatballs with polenta ($12). The smartly chosen menu also includes a full portion of Radiatori alla Buttera for just $20, with cured pork sugo, broccolini, tomato, burrata, and salsa verde. Pair everything with a glass of wine or sangria for $9 or a superb cocktail for $12. (6316 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale)

Mix Up at Royal Palms Resort and Spa

When: 4-6 p.m. daily

Be a tourist in your own town at this charming Spanish Colonial-style gem, which is a Historic Hotel of America. One of the best things about the Mix Up bar here is the incredible setting, whether you snuggle up in the rustic yet elegant bar or sit under the sky in the al fresco Mansion Courtyard. All bites and salads are half off during happy hour, meaning you can get a cheese and charcuterie board for $11.50, zippy honey buffalo wings with blue cheese and cilantro for $11 a dozen, or a Caesar, baby greens or Little Gem salad, all with inspired ingredients, for $8.50 each. Drink specials include $3 off draft beers or specialty cocktails or $4 off glasses of wine. (5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix) 

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View of The Atlanta Skyline through Trees

Why are people moving to Atlanta?

These are seven possible reasons, according to surveys and studies.

The metro Atlanta area continues to grow. Between 2022 and 2023, the city of Atlanta increased by 14,300 residents, raising the total population estimate of the Atlanta region to more than five million.

What makes this area so popular with newcomers? Recent studies, surveys, and reports show Greater Atlanta has demonstrable appeal, from dating to job prospects. See some of the factors that may explain why Atlanta keeps drawing newcomers.

Jobs are plentiful — especially for Gen Z

For young professionals, Atlanta is the perfect city to start a career. An analysis by personal finance organization WalletHub cited ATL as the top city in the U.S. for professionals who are just starting out. The report weighed factors like professional opportunity, including the availability of entry-level jobs and starting salary, in addition to quality-of-life factors, like median salary and average work-week length. Out of 182 U.S. metros, Greater Atlanta topped the list. 

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Creatives can thrive

Of the available jobs in ATL, many are creative careers that were once relegated to the coasts. According to the Georgia Council for the Arts, the creative industries in Georgia represent 5% of all employment and 4% of the state’s business revenue. More than 200,000 people in Georgia are employed in creative professions. 

Beyond employment options, Atlanta has grown its reputation as a cultural hub of the South, drawing TV and film productions, nurturing artists, and cultivating standout skill sets. (Complex even named Atlanta the best U.S. city for rap in 2023.) Whether working as a creative or enjoying the benefits, Atlanta is an attractive choice for those who value arts, culture, and entertainment.

Singles, ready to mingle?

Multiple studies have ranked Atlanta as one of the top U.S. cities for singles hoping to find love. WalletHub ranked Atlanta fourth on a list of best cities for singles in an analysis comparing “key indicators of dating friendliness.” Another report found that more than half of the population is single, creating a larger dating pool for those hoping to find the one. 

There are excellent school districts 

For folks in a different stage of life, the metro area offers solid choices for young families, particularly those seeking quality educational choices. Niche, a platform that features reviews and rankings of local communities, shows the Atlanta area is home to top-rated school districts, all within easy driving distance (minus the traffic) of downtown. The metro Atlanta area offers something for students and parents from Decatur to Johns Creek to Alpharetta and beyond.

Woman on a Hike with Her Dog

It’s a great home for people who love pets

According to research and analytics from the Atlanta Regional Commission, approximately 43% of Atlanta households have at least one pet (mostly dogs). Perhaps due to demand, Atlantans can access veterinary care, pet-friendly restaurants and businesses, and plenty of spacious parks and outdoor areas where they can take their dogs to play.

The weather can’t be beat

Summers can get hot and humid, but the rest of the year tends to be pleasant. According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature in Atlanta is about 65 degrees. This temperate climate offers the perfect environment for people who want to enjoy the outdoors year-round, not just during peak seasons, making the city an excellent fit for outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners, runners, walkers, cyclists, and more. 

Small Cabin with Many Large Windows in the Woods

It’s easy to experience nature (or the world)

Tired of the city? Atlanta is a convenient central location to help you get wherever else you want to go. Head north for a weekend in the mountains — wineries, hiking, and cabins with a view — or catch a flight at Hartsfield-Jackson, where you can travel to just about anywhere in the world. 

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Crowd laughing at a joke

8 stand-up shows coming to DFW that promise big laughs

Make your next night out a funny one.

This time of year, things can feel dark — literally — thanks to early sunsets that seem like they set in a few ticks after mid-day. If you feel yourself falling into the winter doldrums, there’s only one antidote: Laughing so hard it hurts. Across North Texas, you can catch comedians who have earned critical recognition, gads of fans, and reputations as the best in the biz. Catch one of your favorite stand-up comedians in the Dallas area (or find a new one) in the next few months and shake off what ails you.

Stavros Halkias

Jan. 27, 10 p.m.
Majestic Theatre
Tickets start at $34.99

Baltimore’s son Stavros Halkias earned internet stardom through his raunchy-but-earnest crowd work and glowing critical reviews as part of a new wave of young (ish) comedic talent. Now, fresh off the heels of his first Netflix special, “Fat Rascal,” Stavvy is bringing his contagious, uproarious laugh to the Majestic Theatre. Unless you want to discuss a recent heartbreak or what you’ve been shame-eating, it’s best to stay mum when he solicits the crowd for stories. See the link for tickets.

Atsuko Okatsuka 

Feb. 2, 7:00 p.m.
The Texas Theatre
Tickets start at $38

You might recognize Atsuko Okatsuka if you’re chronically online, thanks to her signature bowl cut, bright style of primary colors, and perfectly executed accessories. She went viral for the #DropChallenge and has been in the zeitgeist since, bringing her unique brand of humor, which is equal parts physical comedy, pure theatrical silliness, and electric storytelling, sometimes about traumatic situations she’s endured. (Her HBO special, “The Intruder,” is named for an episode with an intruder who tried to break into her house three times in one day.) There’s no one like Okatsuka, and there won’t be anything like her “Full Grown” tour. Snag a ticket here.

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Maddy Smith

Feb. 9 – 10, showtimes at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Big Laugh Comedy Club Fort Worth
Tickets start at $20

As a standout cast member of MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out,” Maddy Smith regularly roasts people beyond recognition and shows off her lightning-quick improvisational skills. She’s also a regular at the Comedy Cellar, an opener for big-name talent, and has appeared on “Bar Stool Sports” and BET’s “On the Ropes.” While she’s a comedian’s comedian, fans love her equally for her sometimes zany, always unapologetic, straight-shooting style. Consider attending the 9:30 p.m. show to catch Austin’s Casey Rocket in the small room at 7 p.m. and see absurdist humor that will both confuse and delight you. Pick up tickets here.

Sam Morril

Feb. 8 – 10, multiple times
Addison Improv
Tickets start at $30

Since being named one of Comedy Central’s “ones to watch” in 2011, Morril has certainly been watchable: He’s appeared on late-night shows, released several comedy specials, and even hosted an Emmy-nominated sports show. (If listening is more your style, you can also catch him on the “We Might Be Drunk” podcast.) His gruff delivery of wide-ranging material is not for pearl clutches, but instead of punching down, he punches equidistantly — and it always feels like the audience is in on the joke. Grab tickets here.

Comedian performing in a club in front of  a full crowd

Zainab Johnson

February 24, 9:30 p.m.
Dallas Comedy Club
Tickets start at $25

“Last Comic Standing” alum Zainab Johnson puts the multi in multi-hyphenate as a writer, actress, and stand-up comic. She’s appeared on TV series like Greg Daniels’ “Upload” and hosted Netflix’s “100 Humans,” all while being a paid regular in some of America’s most well-known comedy clubs. Her new Amazon Prime special, “Hijabs Off,” includes stories about growing up with 12 siblings in Harlem, yet every poignant anecdote is paired with levity and clever insights. You’ll feel like you’re having a night with your smartest, funniest, and most stylish friend. Get your tickets here to see the tour

Chris Redd

Feb. 24, 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Big Laugh Comedy Club Fort Worth
Tickets start at $25

Former “SNL” cast member, Second City touring member, Emmy Award winner (and underrated jewel of “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”), Chris Redd, is a masterful performer. His improvisational bona fides are on full display during his stand up, where his comedic voice and electric energy transform every story or crowd interaction into a show of its own. You can catch him for the early or late show. Get tickets to either here.

Ronny Chieng 

March 2, 7:00 p.m.
Majestic Theatre
Tickets start at $39.50

You might know Ronny Chieng from one of his many movie appearances, including popular titles like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “M3GAN,” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Or, it’s possible you’ve caught him on the small screen as senior correspondent (and occasional host) of the “Daily Show.” Given his tenure on the satirical news show, Chieng is well practiced at balancing biting commentary with hilarity, and that juxtaposition extends nicely to his “Love to Hate It” tour, which he described as complaining about things he loves. Relatable. Catch him while you can at the Majestic Theatre

Maria Bamford

March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Addison Improv
Tickets start at $25

If you’re still mourning the cancellation of Bamford’s Netflix series “Lady Dynamite,” here’s your opportunity to see the mastermind behind it. She has earned two “Comedy Central Presents” specials — the first woman to do so — adding to numerous specials and extensive voice work from shows like “BoJack Horseman” to movies like “Kung Fu Panda.” Her weird and wonderful approach to even heavy topics, including her anxiety and depression, makes her accessible to anyone who feels like they live in the outer limits (but can find humor in it, anyway.) Bamford was once called “The funniest woman in the world” by Judd Apatow, but you can see for yourself in person. Click here for tickets.

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