Looking for a happy hour where one can bring a pint-sized person (read: very small) and imbibe pint-sized margaritas (read: extra-large)? Look no further, friends: Diego caters to drunks, parents, and drunkard parents alike. The corner restaurant on Smith and Union streets in Carroll Gardens pushes a daily happy hour that lasts from 2pm to 7pm. Before 5pm, the only food served is guac and chips, so you have no choice but to drink on a near-empty-stomach for the first three hours. Their $7 pint margaritas aren’t fancy, but they go down real easy—and beers are 2-for-1. Is it a coincidence that this joint shares a name with Dora the Explorer’s little brother? Probably not. Bleary-eyed couples roll their strollers into the gated outdoor space and are happily accommodated at the indoor tables beneath a mural of a desert landscape. But babies would bake in the booths under the wide front windows. There, the child-free can chill, untroubled by rugrats. Thanks to the din of slurred conversation, high ceilings, and spaced-out seating areas—there’s also a bar and a semi-circle of banquette seating and cocktail tables in the back—Diego is comfy for everyone.
Unfortunately, as welcoming as it may be, Diego’s upscale prices don’t jive with its ho-hum menu. The guacamole, made with buttery avocado, carefully balanced with smoky chipotle and a tart squirt of lime juice and served in a traditional molcajete, is arguably worth $9. However, $13 seems steep for a trio of mahi mahi tacos, even though they’re cooked nicely enough and served with a citrusy slaw. The fish tacos do outshine their carnitas counterparts, which were way too dry for $11. If you fill up on the rice and beans that are served alongside the tacos, you can make them into a meal, but this isn’t a destination for serious Mexican food nerds who prefer eating off paper plates in the back rooms of delis. In fact, Diego’s tacos are perched on little metal stands, which brought back memories of a happy hour spent at Oyamel, an upscale-Mexican spot in DC from big-deal chef José Andrés—but Oyamel’s fancy little stands serve carnitas tacos revved up with green tomatillo sauce and crispy pork rinds, and only cost $2 during their hora feliz.
Diego could benefit from a discounted food menu during their marathon happy hour—and the menu could use a bit more pizzazz—but if you’re throwing back a 16-ounce margarita or two (with or without a sleeping infant at your side), you may not notice or mind.