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Going Places

Five Swanky Bethesda Happy Hours

Sunday, June 20, 2004; Page M06

Dirt-cheap beer and shots have their place, but after a long, hard day at the office, sometimes you'd rather hear "Shaken, not stirred" than "Another dollar Bud, dude!" Continuing our series on high-end happy hours, we offer these Bethesda-based tie-looseners, where you can score tempting cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for just a few more dollars than at a basic suds-and-peanuts joint. (Next up: Arlington.)

BLACK'S BAR & KITCHEN. 7750 Woodmont Ave. 301-652-6278. Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. Raw-bar lovers, rejoice! Two-for-$1 Chesapeake Bay oysters and a page-long menu of $5 martinis are the slurping attractions at this polished Gulf Coast-inspired space. Co-workers gravitate toward the lengthy bar -- with a fish tank, stuffed marlin and corrugated metal overhang -- while couples can rendezvous on dimly lit black-leather banquettes.

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DIVINO LOUNGE & RESTAURANT. 7345-B Wisconsin Ave. 240-497-0300. www.divinolounge.com. Wednesday-Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The half-price happy hour at this chic Argentine restaurant and lounge puts most rail drinks at $4 and beers at $3. This includes Quilmes, a refreshing South American lager. The complimentary nibbles (by request only) depend on the chef's whimsy but might include sliced chorizo, marinated olives or Spanish tortilla wedges.

LEVANTE'S. 7262 Woodmont Ave. 301-657-2441. www.levantes.com. Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. Ease into a spot at the roomy, elliptical bar in the midst of this blue-and-white Mediterranean restaurant and sip away those workday woes. A buck buys a generous plate of hummus with piping-hot pita, $2 gets a curry-infused chicken sandwich, or splurge for the $3 calamari or sucuk pide -- a zingy pizza "boat" with Turkish sausage and cheese -- plenty for two to share. Glasses of house merlot or chardonnay are $3, as is a Sam Adams draft.

MON AMI GABI. 7239 Woodmont Ave. 301-654-1234. www.monamigabi.com. Monday-Friday, 5-6:30 p.m. At this dark wood-and-brass French bistro, the Georges Duboeuf house wines pour at half-price by the glass (about $3.50) or bottle (around $14), while five dishes -- onion soup, fried cheese, a steak sandwich, a burger, and fish and frites -- go for $5 each. After snacking, catch an indie movie next door at Bethesda Row.

PERSIMMON. 7003 Wisconsin Ave. 301-654-9860. www.persimmonrestaurant.com. Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. To inaugurate its new granite bar, this trendy boite just launched a $5 happy hour -- each fiver will buy you a glass of wine or a nosh, such as mozzarella ravioli stuffed with artichoke, Thai lobster bisque or barbecue duck nachos. Another option: $7 wine flights that each include three pours. Karen-Lee Ryan


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