New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Betting on burgers: A new take on the American classic from The Happiest Hour

The West Village bar has recently put its spin on the McDonald’s Happy Meal to create full-on burger beauty.
Anna Baird-Hassell
The Happiest Hour is a bar and restaurant at 121 W. 10th St. (Anna Baird-Hassell for WSN)

Adorned with dimly lit globes, emanating a pink light with palm-tree wallpaper and dark-wood paneling, The Happiest Hour brings a tropical-vacation aesthetic to the Manhattan food scene, since its opening in the fall of 2014. Located in the West Village, the speakeasy-themed bar houses a full restaurant with a variety of seating options — group tables, booths and tables for two. Usually filled with the chatter of customers coupled with the decadent soul music in the background, The Happiest Hour is a great spot to grab cocktails and comfort meals with your friends.


Bonsai Chicken Bites

A plate with pieces of fried chicken, a cup of mayo and a slice of lemon.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

A classic on the menu, The Happiest Hour’s chicken bites are perfectly fried and crispy on the exterior while tender on the inside. The in-house kewpie mayo, made using only egg yolks, elevated the nuggets to another level with its rich and lush texture. Priced at $13, the appetizer is the perfect dish to start off your meal.


Mac n’ Cheese Bites

A plate with fried balls of dough and a cup of light green sauce.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Next, we got the mac n’ cheese bites — which were presented in fried balls of dough. If you have ever had Spanish croquettes, this dish is basically a take on mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes for $12. As you bite into the thin outer shell, your taste buds are immediately hit with a scalding creamy flavor. The housemade jalapeño sauce is a mildly spicy white dressing that packs in a punch to these flavorful bites.


Shishito Peppers

A plate of green peppers and a slice of lime.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

We ended the appetizers with their shishito peppers; if you’ve ever tried pimientos de padrón, a Spanish pepper, you may like these. The meal comes with blistered green peppers, thin and long, which you hold at the stem and bite off. Most of the shishito peppers that you try are mild in spice, but every once in a while you bite into a flaming hot one, so be on high alert. At The Happiest Hour, the only other addition to the dish is citrus salt, which adds a nice touch of acid, combining with the natural heat of the peppers. At $10, the satisfying snap as you bite into the shishito pepper keeps you wanting more.


The Happiest Meal

A tray with a cup of french fries, a burger with a toothpick skewered through the center and a cup of ketchup.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

The star of the night was “The Happiest Meal,” available Monday to Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., which was released on April 2, as an elegant spin on the McDonald’s Happy Meal. At a great deal of $25 for the double patty, “The Happiest Meal” is accompanied with a hamburger, french fries and a choice of a cocktail, beer or wine. The burgers are about the size of your typical slider, and the fries are similar to the fries that you find in steak frites. You can opt for either “The Happiest Burger” or “The Happiest Smash.” “The Happiest Burger” is your typical American hamburger with lettuce and tomato, while “The Happiest Smash” is a new addition to the menu, and their take on the trendy smashburger. The Happiest Hour tops off their smashburger with bacon bits and crispy caramelized onions that add a crunch as you bite.


Fried Chicken Sandwich

I still had enough room in my stomach to sample their fried chicken sandwich with tater tots on the side. For $13, the large chicken tender portion is generous for the size of the buns. The sweet pickles are thinly sliced and offer a counterbalance to the salty, fried chicken in addition to the shredded lettuce. For an additional $4, you can add a side of tater tots to your burger. Airy, light and crunchy — the tots complement your order.


If you’re planning what to eat for a weeknight date after classes or simply want to indulge in an elevated American classic, “The Happiest Meal” is the perfect happy hour bite for any occasion. Don’t skip away from the light bites either — altogether, you’ll have a satisfying yet elegant feast.

Contact Aidan Levin at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].
Anna Baird-Hassell
Anna Baird-Hassell, Copy Chief
Anna Baird-Hassell is a junior studying Sociology with a minor in Irish Studies. She is an at-home barista fond of hugs, meditation, speaking her limited Irish Gaelic and reviewing films on Letterboxd @abairdhassell. You can also find her on Instagram @annabairdhassell or email her at [email protected].

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