There are two things Houston will never lack: gas station 40s, and happy hours. With this in mind, we scoured the streets for the best spots to eat and drink on the cheap after work, then hand-picked the winners in each ‘hood. Be warned: With great deals on beers and impressive libations plus food that goes far beyond your average pub grub, these top happy hour spots may have you ditching work a little earlier than usual. But your secret’s safe with us.
OKRA Charity Saloon Drink up for a good cause When: Weekdays, 4-6:30pm This restored 19th-century saloon -- which just so happens to donate 100% of its proceeds to a local non-profit each month -- manages to be both rowdy and classy all at once. Play washers and hit the photo booth while you take down $4 drafts, $4 wells, and $6 wines for a good cause. Add in some $3 Fernet shots, too, because each drink you buy earns you a chance to vote for the month’s winning charity.
Moon Tower Inn Quirky cookshack and patio bar with craft brews and wild game weenies When: Daily specials Wild game weenies and 60+ taps of craft brew make this offbeat dive a local favorite. Hit the yard to partake in Mug Mondays, BOGO burger nights, growler giveaways, or whatever other zany hijinks are going on that day.
Uchi Outside-the-box sushi and Japanese spot with a righteous “sake social” hour When: Daily, 5-6:30pm When one of the city’s finest restaurants offers food and drink specials, you visit it. Uchi’s Sake Social Hour means you’re drinking $3 hot and cold sake and Japanese lagers while you fill up on delicious and affordable Berkshire pork ribs, walu walu, and spicy bigeye tuna. The happy hour is definitely the best time to visit, as no reservations are required and you can keep your bank account intact.
Blue Bar at Brenner’s on the Bayou Bayou-side cocktails and classy bites in a lush patio setting When: Monday-Thursday, 5-7pm Proving that the bayou can, in fact, be pretty beautiful, the picturesque Blue Bar boasts a swanky happy hour complete with $4 craft beers, $8 cocktails and martinis, and $7 wines by the glass. Escape the city and ease into the lush patio as you snack on bar bites that are ideal for sharing, including duck confit empanadas, tuna tartare tacos, and sliders stacked with chipotle Angus burgers, chopped bbq brisket, and Maine-style lobster & shrimp.
Julep Bourbon-soaked Southern cocktailery with fresh-shucked oysters to boot When: Weekdays, open-5:30pm Channel old Southern grandeur with a list of half-price favorites at this Southern charmer. That list includes a flourish of back porch inspirations that read like a history book of the South, from the NOLA-inspired Vieux Carre to a Georgia Julep hit with Cognac and peach. You’ll also find half-price wine bottles, $1 oysters, and half-price snacks like campechana and cheesy boudin dip.
Around the Corner Fresh-faced bungalow and patio bar with views of the Downtown skyline When: Weekdays, 4-7pm with daily specials Set in a restored 1903 bungalow with a bright and inviting patio, this sister concept to Cottage Grove hangout Down the Street is way cooler than whatever’s around your corner. Happy hour prices runs alongside daily specials, including Monday’s $3.50 pint night and happy hour tacos; Tuesday’s wine night, where $20 gets you a bottle and a complimentary antipasto; and Thursday’s steak night, where you can grab a ribeye with scalloped potatoes and a side salad for $17.
Beaver’s West The quintessential backyard bar with stylish cocktails and “dam good” eats When: Monday-Sunday, 2-7pm plus daily specials With an adults-only whiskey den, a 1950s Spartan camper that works as a bar, and a trailer park-chic yard that you totally want to quench your thirst in, it’s pretty easy to get a buzz going at this “dam good” icehouse. At happy hour, a selection of expertly crafted house cocktails will run you $6 to $8, and draft beers are $5. You’ll need all that to wash down Beaver’s bites, from serrano-butter oysters to smoked chicken flautas. Pop by the den for daily specials, including Taco Tuesday, Wine’d Down Wednesday, and Texas Thursdays.
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Cottonwood Pup-friendly hangout where it’s always patio season When: Weekdays, 4-6pm with daily specials Tuesday steak nights, rain-or-shine crawfish boils, tap takeovers, free live music, a solid collection of whiskey, and 40+ taps of craft beer are just a few of the reasons to head to this GOOF-area crowd favorite. A sprawling patio complete with picnic tables, corn hole, fire pits, and what may be the city’s entire population of dogs are a few more. Happy hour specials include $1 off select drafts, wines, and cocktails (and that Tuesday Steak Night featuring an 8-ounce filet with garlic butter and fixin’s for $16).
Eight Row Flint Modern ice house with whiskey, tacos, and a chillaxed vibe When: Weekdays, 2-6pm (and all day Wednesday) In a city of patio bars, Eight Row Flint’s might win gold. It’s packed regularly, and even more so during happy hour, when a select handful of beers (including local batches like Eureka Heights Wicket Awesome and Buffalo Bayou Sam’s Daily) go for $3 a pop. House cocktails (Old Fashioned, margarita, and mules) are $6, and tacos are $3 each. Like whiskey? Good. There are over 100 varieties to choose from.
Hughie’s Craft beer tavern and Vietnamese grill that feels wholly Houston When: Daily specials Nothing says “Houston” more than a spot that mixes craft beer with Vietnamese food, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at this cult favorite local hangout -- plus a crowd, you’ll almost always find a crowd here too. Daily specials include half-off wines and $9 spicy crawfish fried rice on Mondays, $2 fire sales and $10 burgers on Wednesdays, and a Reverse Happy Hour with $3 select drafts on Fridays and Saturdays (see the entire lineup online).
State Fare Lowbrow comfort food meets high-class drinks When: Weekdays, 3-6pm Paired with $6 happy hour cocktails -- think Old Fashioneds kicked with apricot-infused bourbon and agave frozen margs -- State Fare’s lowbrow comfort food tastes anything but. Get $6 “bites” with flavors are as big and bold as the Lone Star State, from braised short rib poutine and Texas caviar to pimento cheese plates and guajillo smoked chicken nachos. Draft suds selections will run you five bucks a pop, while house wines are $6 and the bartender’s pick (a beer and a shot) is $7.
Oporto Fooding House & Wine Portuguese tapas and sangria by the carafe When: Monday-Friday, 3-6:30pm Come for the petiscos (the Portuguese cousin to Spanish tapas) and stay for the cheap drinks, with Caipirinhas, sangria, and house wines for $6 a glass (or $25 a carafe). The sexy space is intimate enough for a date, but buzzy enough for a big group. Get shared plates you may not actually want to share, like $8 piri piri wings, $6 chorizo romesco, and $15 lamb kofta burgers.
Grand Prize Bar Grungy two-story bar with patios and jukebox tunes When: Daily, 4-8pm Don’t be fooled by its gritty appearance: this longtime favorite is manned by some of the best mixologists in the biz. Stop by happy hour for a beer and shot combo featuring Tecate, Lonestar, or PBR paired with either Fireball, Jager, or Stolen X; as well as $4 whiskey specials; $3 Montucky and wells; and $2-off select cocktails. And be sure to look out for whatever sneakily strong drink is churning in the frozen machine at the moment, whether it be a gin and prickly pear number or a knock-you-off-your-stool strong mango marg.
Rice Village/West U
Upstairs Neighborhood spot with an open-air “treehouse” terrace When: Monday-Sunday, 4-7pm After 40 years, Hungry’s upped its game by adding a bar and lounge, dubbed the “Upstairs.” Get a bird’s-eye view of the Village at the bar’s outdoor terrace on Houston’s nicer days, or keep it cool in the air conditioning with specials including $4 Texas drafts, $5 select wines, and $6 house cocktails like the Grapefruit Spritz and Frozé. All are helpful when washing down $8 bar bites and $9 pizzas.
Emmaline Sophisticated American food and drink with European influences When: Weekdays, 4-6pm at the bar; Saturdays, 3-5pm E’s Midday Aperitivo is as classy as it gets, and everything offered at the afternoon affair is $8. Choose from bites like carbonara-style deviled eggs with black truffle, kennebec fries swimming in taleggio fondue, and veal meatball sliders with overnight sugo. As for the drinks, there’s the aromatic Negroni Bianco; wines by the glass; and the Jacked Daiquiri, with spiced rum, pumpkin, and everything nice.
La Lucha Fried chicken, Gulf oysters, and a late-night oyster “happy hour” When: Monday-Friday, 5-6pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5pm; late-night happy hour Friday-Saturday, 11pm-2am During the daily happy hour, oysters are a buck a shuck and Lonestar cans are $2. Night owls can also get their oyster fix on Friday and Saturday nights, when the $1 oyster “happy hour” continues. Late-night is also when drunk munchies go gourmet: hot griddle cakes drizzled in cane syrup, butter biscuits smothered in sausage gravy, and nachos with a Superica queso blanket. All that, plus $3 Lone Stars, makes for a damn good night.
Kirby Ice House The ultimate patio bar (with an interesting age policy) When: Daily specials This behemoth watering hole has been making Upper Kirby better since 2016. Today, the sprawling bar and backyard remains just as boisterous, despite (or perhaps because of) its strict 23-and-up policy. Those who are old enough can partake in all kinds of weekly shenanigans, including Monday’s all-day-all-night happy hour, Tuesday’s fire-sale on 51 beers, and Sunday’s “craft cocktail mania,” featuring $7 craft drinks.
Eunice Cajun-Creole brasserie pairing European class and Gulf Coast ease When: Daily, 3-6pm European class meets the Dirty South at this stunning brasserie. With its a striking U-shaped quartz-topped bar, soaring windows, and Live Oak-shaded patio, this is the kind of place you’ll want to unwind with a drink or two. At happy hour, those drinks are half-off (beer, specialty cocktails, and house wines by the glass), and so are snacks like “Dan Dan” shrimp and cornmeal-crusted oysters. Oh, and the colossal Gulf oysters? They’re only 75 cents a pop.
River Oaks District
Bisou Where the social set goes to play When: Tuesday-Friday, 3-7pm with champs & wine specials from 11am to 7pm Houston’s swankiest social fine dining spot is where the pretty people come to play. At happy hour, that means $10 specialty cocktails (think Perfect Margaritas and French 75s) and a special bar menu with bites from pork dumplings and truffle frites to the sushi roll of the day. Stick around for specials like Ladies’ Night and Steak Night (Tues and Wed).
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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who refuses to pay full price for whiskey and tacos. Unless it’s not happy hour, then whatever, she’ll pay it. Find out more truths @BrookeViggiano or @brookiefafa on IG.