Postino Wine Cafe's Happy Hour includes charcuterie boards. Image: Courtesy Becca Wright
There’s something cynical about drinking during your lunch break, however, it’s probably always needed if you find yourself at a happy hour on a Tuesday midday. And in contrast, if you have a workday where there are less fires than normal, that’s all the more time to celebrate.
Most of us would like not to spend $20 on a cocktail, but thanks to inflation, that’s pretty normal when visiting somewhere other than your neighborhood bar (and in Houston, that barely makes a difference). So to feel good about ordering rounds of drinks, happy hour was invented, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves to feel better.
While we lost some of our favorite bars and scenic restaurants in 2020, there are emerging outlets in the city that are worth leaving work to sip on a cocktail. Whether you’re the pursuer who enjoys discounted food or you’re just there for the half-priced drinks, we’ve culled through the city’s best (and booziest) happy hours.
When: Weekdays from 2-6 p.m.
The earlier, the better — and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Loro. The Korean smokehouse has a laid-back vibe, and the happy hour menu has the prices to match — you’ll get discounted small bites such as $6 smoked salmon deviled eggs and $7 brisket tostadas, and the drink prices are tough to beat — $5 pineapple chile ranch water and frozen gin and tonics, and beer and wine under $10.
Loro, 1001 W 11th St.
When: Every day until 5 p.m.
When in Italy, do as the Italians do — and that means the early afternoon is prime aperitivo hours, where you gather with friends for a cocktail and light snacks ahead of dinner. The casual wine cafe hosts happy hour from the time it opens until 5, with $6 glasses of wine and pitchers of beer, plus $25 bottles of wine and bruschetta boards on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Postino, 642 Yale St.
When: Tuesday to Friday from 1-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 3:30-5 p.m.
Savoir’s happy hour cannot be beat. You’ll want to dress for the occasion, making it the perfect after-work stop. The restaurant does $6 cocktails and wine by the glass — why would you pass that up? Whether it’s a late lunch or early dinner, you can indulge in a full meal of small plates such as $15 meatballs or the $12 roasted hummus.
Savoir, 1344 Yale St.
Weekdays, 2-6 p.m.
Eight Row Flint’s icehouse (and pet-friendly patio) is a special place to gather. Friends are cool and all, but the real reason you bring people here during happy hour is so that you can order $4 beers and half-priced cocktails, plus $6 tacos al la carte.
Eight Row Flint, 1039 Yale St.
Trash Panda Drinking Club
When: Weekdays 4-7 p.m.
Just based on the name alone, you’d question if Austin is truly the weird city. Maybe what draws people in are the pub’s quaint design or the quirky drink names. Either way, the specialty cocktails like the Garibaldi and the Kobe are only $6 during happy hour, and the same goes for the mini chicken and quesabirria tacos.
Trash Panda Drinking Club, 4203 Edison St.
When: Daily, 5-7 p.m.
In Japanese, it’s not happy hour, it’s “tanoshi” hour, which means delightful, and when you see the happy hour prices, you’ll understand why. Although Nobu is typically more high-end, the luxe happy hour features beers as low as $4 and sake for $10, plus wine by the glass and craft cocktails. Order from the shuko menu and get $7 salted edamame and $9 shishito peppers or some of their cold bites, such as $12 yellowtail jalapeno and crispy rice spicy tuna.
Nobu, 5115 Westheimer Road.
Blanco Tacos & Tequila
When: Weekdays, 3-6 p.m
At Blanco Tacos & Tequila, every day is Taco Tuesday. Everything on the menu from shots of tequila to guacamole won’t break your budget — the Galleria restaurant prices everything between $5-$8 for happy hour. But buyer beware: Some shots taste like you won’t be going to work tomorrow.
Blanco Tacos & Tequila, 5115 Westheimer Road.
Highland Village/River Oaks
When: Sunday-Friday 3-7 p.m. and Sunday-Monday 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
Unless you’re really going all-out, dinner at Loch Bar is a little pricey for a casual weeknight. But the daily happy hour is a great time to grab a few drinks and discount food at the bar such as $6 buttermilk hushpuppies and $10 kampachi ceviche. Most of the drink menu will be discounted too, including the $8 orange crush and $2 oyster shooters.
Loch Bar, 4444 Westheimer Road., Suite G110
When: Weekdays, 4 p.m.- close
Slowpokes has a nice patio, but the best place to sit is at the bar, especially during happy hour for the $5 wine or half-priced beer. What the fast-casual restaurant also gets right is the menu prices — the flatbreads and the meat and cheese boards won’t cost more than a Jackson. And the best part: You can come as you are.
Slowpokes, 1203 W 34th St. Suite D.
When: Monday-Thursday 3-7 p.m.
While being best known for its ode to Mexico with corn-based offerings (hence the name), Tex-Mex restaurant Maize should actually be known for what it likes to call “social hour,” the daily happy hour during which you can drink the house hurricane and picositas for $8 and eat sample flautas and ceviche for a fraction of the price.
Maize, 14795 Memorial Drive.
When:Daily, 4-6 p.m.
Kick off a night in Downtown Houston at Miss Carousel with $7 margs and $3 shots. While the buzzy EaDo bar doesn’t actually serve food, luckily for us, the Agricole sister restaurant Indianola is right next door, where you can order small bites such as Devils on Horseback for $11 and crispy popcorn shrimp for $13. The only downside — you may end up there all night.
Miss Carousel, 1201 St. Emanuel St.
When: Weekdays, 3-7 p.m.
We all love getting just the right Instagram picture at a great restaurant. But we love doing it even more when we don’t have to break the bank for it. Present Company’s vibrant ambience will entice you to go, but you’ll stay for the $3 domestics and $7 pizzas.
Present Company, 1318 Westheimer Road.
When: Sunday-Friday 5-7 p.m., Monday, 5-9 p.m.
Ambrosia is one of the more sought-after restaurants in Houston (try booking a reservation) and the bungalow’s fusion of Southeast Asian flavors is one of the reasons why. Sit at the bar for the $8 libations and $6 salmon Crudo and shishito peppers. And if you want to put it in reverse, head to Ambrosia on Fridays and Saturdays for reverse happy hour from 9 to close.
Ambrosia, 2003 Lexington St.
When: Weekdays, 12-7 p.m.
Axelrad has a nearly all-day happy hour that includes $3 beers and mimosas, $4 wells and $5 frozens. If you get hungry, no worries — the outdoor bungalow shares a patio with Luigi’s Pizzeria, and the small bites range from chicken wings to mozzarella sticks, both no more than $10.
Axelrad, 1517 Alabama St.
When: Monday-Saturday 3-6 p.m.
The Original Ninfas is always an excellent decision for a group outing with shareable dishes like $8 fajita burger sliders and mole chicken wings. What you won’t want to share are the tasty margaritas — unless, of course, you order by the pitcher.
The Original Ninfas, 2704 Navigation Blvd.