Happiest Hour 

Caffè Dolce

Atmosphere: Unlike the bulk of Missoula's downtown bars, there's a distinct European vibe at Caffè Dolce. Busy streets, a bustling patio, more gelato than you can shake a spoon atall hallmarks of a pleasant lunch hour escape. And with the restaurant's primo selection of beer and wine, you can get your drink on a few hours ahead of the 5 p.m. Friday buzzer. The only question you have to ask yourself, or maybe the waitstaff, is which wine will best pair with your grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

What you're drinking: On a recent Friday, Caffè Dolce's Madison Unsworth recommends a riesling, specifically the Bollenberg 2010 from the Dirler-Cade winery in the Alsace region of France. It's not as sweet as your average riesling; the wine list describes it as a "bouquet of honey and honeysuckle, flavors of pear, apple, lime, pineapple and baking spice." There's a "zippy freshness" to this $11-a-glass suggestion that makes it a great companion for pretty much anything on Caffè Dolce's extensive menu.

What else you can get: Caffè Dolce has a regularly rotating selection of wines from across the globereds from Spain, whites from Italy, the odd rosé from France. If your palate is craving a brewski, the restaurant offers a number of regional beers on tap including selections from Big Sky, Great Northern and New Belgium. For the time being, you can snag a pint of New Belgium's cocoa molé ale, spiced with chili and cinnamon.

Where to find it: Caffè Dolce's a hop and a skip from the Hip Strip at 500 Brooks Street.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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