Food & Drink

Where to Score Actually Delicious Free Food in Houston

Great news! You don’t have to resort to making laps around Costco to score free eats in Houston (though those are always fun times). Instead, you can visit these fine establishments to respectfully sample on everything from chips & salsa and pizza bread to cheese tastings, all on the house. 

<strong>3rd Floor </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/houston/bars/3rd-floor&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Midtown</em><br />
This craft beer bar’s best-kept secret is the absolutely free drunken focaccia at the bar during happy hour. Make sure to ask your bartender for it, and cheesy, crisp, and buttery toasts you shall receive.

<strong>Ashford Pub </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/houston/bars/ashford-pub&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>West Oaks</em><br />
We’re not kidding when we say this is a friendly neighborhood watering hole... so friendly, in fact, that it’s not uncommon to find the bartenders offering homemade food and snacks to the crowd.

<strong>Catbirds </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/houston/bar/catbirds-lounge-patio-…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose</em><br />
If taking down tasty, cold beverages and free popcorn in a neon-blue glowing room with non-stop ‘40s (and older) jazz &amp; blues is your thing (and why wouldn’t it be?), this is your spot.

<strong>Chuy’s</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/chuys&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River Oaks (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Is there any better queso than free queso? We’ll stop you right there, because the answer is no. During Chuy’s HH, the seriously silky chile-spiked cheese dip is served in a "nacho car" alongside salsa and hot &amp; fresh chips... for FREE.

<strong>Don Carlo’s Mexican Restaurants </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/don-carlos-cant…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>East End (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Sit at the bar and you’ll find awesomeness like a free loaded nacho bar and flautas (select days only).

<strong>Piola</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/houston/restaurants/piola&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Midtown</em><br />
As long as you’re boozing at the bar, you’ll be treated to tasty Italian bites during the Mon-Fri happy hour.

<strong>PJ’s Sports Bar</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/houston/bars/pjs-sports-bar&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose</em><br />
Head to this dive on Sundays, when locals bring a variety of potluck eats to feast (and if you don’t want to be a jerk, you may want to bring something, too).

<strong>Rose Garden</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/houston/bars/rose-garden&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Heights</em><br />
Rose, who owns the bar and lives across the street, often whips up homemade snacks for her customers, offering up everything from tamales and hot dogs to cream cheese balls and crackers. We love Rose.

<strong>Sunny’s </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/houston/bar/sunnys&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Downtown</em><br />
Fact: free popcorn is the only way to chase $1 Jello shots.

<strong>El Tiempo</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/el-tiempo-canti…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
While the chances of you getting free chips at any Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston are as good as hitting a pothole on the way there, some versions of the city’s favorite freebie are above the fray. Such is the case with these freshly fried numbers, served with a duo of salsas, a creamy green and a tongue-tingling red.

<strong>Los Tios</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/los-tios&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Memorial (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Gratis chips, salsa, and green sauce are the what, Los Tios is the where.

<strong>Molina’s Cantina</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/molinas-cantina…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Washington (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
This powerhouse has been feeding Houstonians chips &amp; salsa since 1941. While the latter are totally free, you may want to tack on a few bucks for the bliss-inducing Jose’s Dip.

<strong>The Original Ninfa's on Navigation</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/houston/restaurants/ninfas-on-naviga…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>East End</em><br />
Hot and free house-made tortilla chips make the perfect vehicle for fresh, fiery salsa. Not free, but totally worth it, are the boozy margarita’s, the perfect way to wash it all down.

<strong>Skinny Rita’s </strong>(<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/skinny-ritas-g…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Heights (&amp; Montrose)</em><br />
Freshly made nopal (cactus) tortillas and a duo of refreshing salsas set this skinny Tex-Mex haunt apart.&nbsp;

<strong>Américas/Churrascos </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/churrascos-rive…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River Oaks (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Every meal starts with fried plantain chips and a trio of dipping sauces that are equal parts complementary and addicting.

<strong>Benjy’s </strong>&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/houston/bar/benjys-4002010&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Rice Village (&amp; Washington)</em><br />
Freebies range from seriously tasty muffins at brunch to an assortment of breads and buttery cheddar biscuits at lunch and dinner.

<strong>Ciao Bello</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/ciao-bello&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Galleria</em><br />
The gratuitous basket features a rotating lineup of carby excellence, from fresh pumpkin bread to crumbly cinnamon coffee cake.

<strong>Osaka Japanese Restaurant </strong>(<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/osaka-japanese…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose&nbsp;</em><br />
This Japanese sushi bar lures diners by randomly giving away things like free sushi, appetizers, and quite possibly dessert.

Nino’s, Vincent’s, and Grappino di Nino (address and info
Montrose
Free bread & butter is cool, but free house-made ciabatta & giardiniera is cooler. Be cooler at all three sibling Italian joints

<strong>Peli Peli </strong>(<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/peli-peli&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Galleria (&amp; Vintage Park)</em><br />
First-timers can get an appetizer on the house just by signing up for this inspired South African eatery’s <a href="http://www.pelipeli.com/KleinISD.aspx&quot; target="_blank">newsletter</a>.

<strong>Vallone’s </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/houston/restaurants/vallones&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Memorial</em><br />
Make sure to ask your waiter for the crazy-good crusty sourdough loaf to start your meal off right.

<strong>Beckrew Wine House</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/beckrew-wine-house-77098&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Upper Kirby</em><br />
This vino and brew bar hasn’t been open long, but it’s already garnered a cult following thanks to its stellar small vineyard selections and grade-A coffee program. We’re sure the free margherita pies you get when you order a bottle don’t hurt either (only on Mondays &amp; Tuesdays).

<strong>Ciao Bello </strong>(<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/ciao-bello&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Galleria</em><br />
Saddle up at the bar during weekday happy hour and see what kind of excellent thin-crust pies are coming your way while you imbibe.

<strong>CRU Wine Bar </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/houston/bar/cru-wine-bar&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River Oaks (&amp; Woodlands)</em><br />
On Mondays, get any bottle of wine and you’ll earn yourself a zero dollar pizza.

<strong>La Griglia</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/la-griglia&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River Oaks</em><br />
This trendy Italian joint takes what could be a usual bread basket and makes it 10 times better by including signature pizza bread, which is really just thin-crust cheese pizza sliced into skinny strips to not make you feel like you’re pre-gaming for your chicken parm with pizza. You totally are.

<strong>Gallery Furniture</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/gallery-furniture-77056&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Galleria (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Get your new leather couch with a side of free cake at this massive furniture store. Or just get the free cake.

<strong>Ibiza Food &amp; Wine Bar </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/houston/restaurants/ibiza-food-wine-…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Midtown</em><br />
Say you’re celebrating something (literally anything will work) and these guys will bring you a towering, sparkler-topped cotton candy on the house.

<strong>La Griglia</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/la-griglia&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>River Oaks</em><br />
Just when you thought the free pizza bread was the only trick up its sleeve, this fan favorite brings you a trio of miniature Italian cookies before you pay the bill.

<strong>Osaka Japanese Restaurant </strong>(<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/osaka-japanese…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose&nbsp;</em><br />
If you’re a good little diner, your sushi feast will end with ice cream on the house.

<strong>Peli Peli</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/peli-peli&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Galleria (&amp; Vintage Park)</em><br />
The South African eatery is known to give a free dessert when you check in on social media.

<strong>Canino Produce</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/canino-produce-…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Heights</em><br />
This family-owned market -- open since 1958 -- offers food tastings and demos the second Saturday of every month from 10am-noon.

<strong>Central Market/HEB </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/central-market&…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Upper Kirby (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
You can make a small lunch out of walking around one of these grocery stores, which feature free samples of things like sushi &amp; dumplings, cheeses, and whatever cool stuff is going on at the butcher counter.

<strong>French Country Wines</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/houston/bars/french-country-wine…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Rice Village</em><br />
Saturday’s on-the-house wine tastings often feature on-the-house cheeses and/or desserts.

<strong>Houston Dairymaids</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/houston-dairyma…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Heights</em><br />
Whenever Houston’s favorite cheesemongers are open, they are offering gratis cheese tastings. The team of experts pick a new lineup of artisan cheeses to showcase every week, meaning you should probably stop by every week. Pro tip: go on Wednesdays or Saturdays, when they pair the free cheese with free sips of wine, cider, or beer.

<strong>Olive &amp; Vine</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/olive-vine-77024&quot; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Memorial</em><br />
This European-style tasting bar and boutique features 50 premium extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars for your sampling pleasure.

<strong>Spec’s </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/houston/restaurants/specs-wines-spir…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Midtown (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
Free sample Saturdays include a variety of gourmet bites, imported foods, and booze.

<strong>Urban Harvest Farmers Markets </strong>(<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/urban-harvest-f…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Uppery Kirby (&amp; Downtown)</em><br />
Imagine Costco-esque sampling opportunities, only instead of munching on frozen microwaved things, you can get completely fresh, locally sourced, handmade ones.

<strong>VOM FASS</strong> (<a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/vom-fass-oils-v…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Rice Village</em><br />
Stop by the shop to taste olive oil and vinegar in flavors like jalapeño and blueberry balsamic.

<strong>Whole Foods</strong> (<a href="https://www.thrillist.com/venues/eat/houston/restaurants/whole-foods-ma…; target="_blank">address and info</a>)

<em>Montrose (&amp; other locations)</em><br />
If you haven’t eaten your weight in samples of seaside cheddar, beef jerky, and smoked salmon, you've been living a lie.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer who’s been known to circle around Whole Foods a few times in her day. Send her free samples @BrookeViggiano.