Ride the Sun Link as far west as you can go and you’ll end up at Mercado San Agustin.
Once you walk into the plaza, you’ll find a beautiful open-air courtyard surrounded by a variety of locally-owned businesses. At the Mercado’s northwest corner is Agustin Kitchen, a hybrid of Tucson flavor with Old World influences.
With the lovely outdoor seating, classy but modest interior, creative cocktails, and top notch local ingredients, AK’s happy hour is a force to be reckoned with. Happy hour bites range from $3 to $12, cocktail specials are $6, and house wines are $5.
The white walls, warm wood tables, and antler chandelier exude a rustic classiness that’s also reflected in the food. With Sally Kane and Chef Erika Bostick recently joining the team from the Coronet, the French bistro touch has strengthened.
Take the rillette for example. It’s a French method that was originally used for the sake of preserving meat. However, the practice lives on because it’s just so darn tasty. At Agustin Kitchen, you’ll find local duck rillettes ($6), which spread like paté over their garlic toast. The duck fatty richness is balanced with grainy mustard, pickles, and olives. Garlic toast also costars with another happy hour dish — goat brûlée ($8). Warm goat cheese and citrus preserves show off the blissful blend of rich, savory, sweet, and sour.
The classic mussels ($12) come in a broth with garlic, Pernod, and shallot. You’ll want to order a side of sourdough or frites to soak up the leftover anise-perfumed broth.
The happy hour menu includes a few non-French exceptions, such as calamari ($8). With red bell peppers, shishito peppers, onion, carrot, Mae Ploy, and black sesame seeds, it’s filled with aggressive Asian flavors. The flavors are still balanced, but be careful with the shishito peppers — like Güero chiles from Sonoran hot dog stands, the heat can range to mild to chug-your-cocktail hot.
Though even without the heat of peppers, the cocktails are tasty enough that you’ll have to try hard to not get carried away.
The curried daiquiri ($6) has light rum, Batavia Arrack, curry, lime, and rose water. The floral and spicy complexity deepens with each sip. The classic Brown Derby ($6) is a refreshing bittersweet combination of bourbon, grapefruit, and honey.
If you live walking distance from the Sun Link, you can let yourself conveniently and responsibly get carried away.
Agustin Kitchen is located at 100 S. Avenida del Convento, #150 and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit agustinkitchen.com. To keep up with their specials, visit their Facebook page.