Free bar bites
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.
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.
If taking down tasty, cold beverages and free popcorn in a neon-blue glowing room with non-stop ‘40s (and older) jazz & blues is your thing (and why wouldn’t it be?), this is your spot.
River Oaks (& other locations)
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 & fresh chips... for FREE.
East End (& other locations)
Sit at the bar and you’ll find awesomeness like a free loaded nacho bar and flautas (select days only).
As long as you’re boozing at the bar, you’ll be treated to tasty Italian bites during the Mon-Fri happy hour.
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).
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.
Fact: free popcorn is the only way to chase $1 Jello shots.
Free chips & salsa
Montrose (& other locations)
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.
Memorial (& other locations)
Gratis chips, salsa, and green sauce are the what, Los Tios is the where.
Washington (& other locations)
This powerhouse has been feeding Houstonians chips & 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.
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.
Heights (& Montrose)
Freshly made nopal (cactus) tortillas and a duo of refreshing salsas set this skinny Tex-Mex haunt apart.
Free restaurant appetizers and bread
River Oaks (& other locations)
Every meal starts with fried plantain chips and a trio of dipping sauces that are equal parts complementary and addicting.
Rice Village (& Washington)
Freebies range from seriously tasty muffins at brunch to an assortment of breads and buttery cheddar biscuits at lunch and dinner.
The gratuitous basket features a rotating lineup of carby excellence, from fresh pumpkin bread to crumbly cinnamon coffee cake.
This Japanese sushi bar lures diners by randomly giving away things like free sushi, appetizers, and quite possibly dessert.
Galleria (& Vintage Park)
First-timers can get an appetizer on the house just by signing up for this inspired South African eatery’s newsletter.
Make sure to ask your waiter for the crazy-good crusty sourdough loaf to start your meal off right.
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 & Tuesdays).
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.
River Oaks (& Woodlands)
On Mondays, get any bottle of wine and you’ll earn yourself a zero dollar pizza.
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.
Galleria (& other locations)
Get your new leather couch with a side of free cake at this massive furniture store. Or just get the free cake.
Say you’re celebrating something (literally anything will work) and these guys will bring you a towering, sparkler-topped cotton candy on the house.
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.
If you’re a good little diner, your sushi feast will end with ice cream on the house.
Galleria (& Vintage Park)
The South African eatery is known to give a free dessert when you check in on social media.
Free samples and tastings
This family-owned market -- open since 1958 -- offers food tastings and demos the second Saturday of every month from 10am-noon.
Upper Kirby (& other locations)
You can make a small lunch out of walking around one of these grocery stores, which feature free samples of things like sushi & dumplings, cheeses, and whatever cool stuff is going on at the butcher counter.
Saturday’s on-the-house wine tastings often feature on-the-house cheeses and/or desserts.
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.
This European-style tasting bar and boutique features 50 premium extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars for your sampling pleasure.
Midtown (& other locations)
Free sample Saturdays include a variety of gourmet bites, imported foods, and booze.
Uppery Kirby (& Downtown)
Imagine Costco-esque sampling opportunities, only instead of munching on frozen microwaved things, you can get completely fresh, locally sourced, handmade ones.
Stop by the shop to taste olive oil and vinegar in flavors like jalapeño and blueberry balsamic.
Montrose (& other locations)
If you haven’t eaten your weight in samples of seaside cheddar, beef jerky, and smoked salmon, you've been living a lie.
1. 3rd Floor2303 Smith St Ste 300, Houston
2. Ashford Pub13320 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077, Houston
3. Catbirds Lounge & Patio Bar1336 Westheimer Rd, Houston
4. Chuy's2706 Westheimer Rd, Houston
5. Don Carlos Cantina416 76th St, Houston
6. Piola3201 Louisiana St, Houston
7. PJ's Sports Bar614 W Gray St, Houston
8. Rose Garden2621 Link Rd, Houston
9. Sunny's902 Capitol St, Houston
10. El Tiempo Cantina - Montrose1308 Montrose Blvd, Houston
11. Los Tios14006 Memorial Dr, Houston
12. Molina's Cantina4720 Washington Ave, Houston
13. Ninfa's on Navigation2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston
14. Skinny Rita's Grille4002 N Main St, Houston
15. Churrascos River Oaks2055 Westheimer Rd, Ste 180, Houston
16. Benjy's2424 Dunstan Rd, Houston
17. Vallone's947 Gessner Rd Ste A100, Houston
18. Beckrew Wine House2409 W Alabama St, Houston
19. Ciao Bello5161 San Felipe St, Houston
20. Cru Wine Bar9595 Six Pines Dr, The Woodlands
21. Gallery Furniture2411 Post Oak Blvd, Houston
22. Ibiza Food & Wine Bar2450 Louisiana St, Houston
23. La Griglia2002 W Gray St, Houston
24. Osaka Japanese Restaurant515 Westheimer Rd, Houston
25. Peli Peli5085 Westheimer Rd, Ste B-2515, Houston
26. Canino Produce Co.2520 Airline Dr, Houston
27. Central Market3815 Westheimer Rd, Houston
28. French Country Wines2433 Bartlett St, Houston
29. Houston Dairymaids2201 Airline Dr, Houston
30. Olive & Vine796 Town and Country Blvd, Ste 120, Houston
31. Spec's Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods2410 Smith St, Houston
32. Urban Harvest Farmers' Market3000 Richmond Ave, Houston
33. VOM FASS Oils Vinegars Spices - Houston2424 Times Blvd, Houston
34. Whole Foods Market701 Waugh Dr, Houston
This massive bar in Midtown Houston supplies 50 microbrews from all over the country, 50 boutique American wines, a rotating selection of three cocktails -- such as a boozy Arnold Palmer or sangria -- on draft. Food includes comfort shareables, like ahi tuna nachos, charcuterie, and Bavarian pretzels, all to be enjoyed at 3rd Floor's long communal tables. The rooftap patio offers a bird's eye view of the city.
Ashford Pub is a friendly West Oaks neighborhood watering hole... so friendly, in fact, that it’s not uncommon to find the bartenders offering homemade food and snacks to the crowd. The Irish pub has a rotating list of draft beers, TV's, a pool table, darts, and live music performances.
Located in the heart of Montrose, Catbirds serves tasty cold beverages in a blue neon glow with non-stop jazz and blues from the '40s or older. Happy hour is every day from 3pm-8pm, and there's free popcorn ALL THE TIME.
Chuy's is one of Houston's best Tex-Mex places, and we can't get over how delicious their queso is. If queso isn't your style, be sure to order some nachos and margaritas. The kitschy chain has an Elvis-heavy setting, and during happy hour, the seriously silky chile-spiked cheese dip is served in a "nacho car" alongside salsa and hot & fresh chips... for FREE.
Don Carlo’s Mexican Restaurant in Houston's East End serves authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food. The menu includes all your favorite classics, including a variety of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tamales, and more. This spot also offers some dishes you might not have had before, like caldo de res (beef and vegetable soup) or the mariscada empanizada (grilled filet of fish, shrimp, and shrimp soup).
This Midtown staple boasts the most authentically Italian pizza in town. That’s because the massive chain got its start in Italy before making its way to H-town. You’ll find 40+ pies at this outpost in addition to ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT gnocchi on the 29th of every month. The space is informal, with eclectic multicolored lighting and red leather booths lining the walls.
Set up in an old style Victorian in the Fourth Ward, PJ's is a favorite neighborhood watering hole where a visit feels a night spent with friends. The fully stocked bar is decked out with odds and ends of sports regalia, so sit back, crack open a cold one, and root for your home team. They also cook a mean crawfish boil and host weekly karaoke parties.
Rose Garden is a small cool cash-only bar with an outdoor patio and jukebox. 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. However, as far as alcohol goes, there is only beer and wine available.
Alcohol-soaked pineapple for $.25? Yes, please. Named after owner/bartender, Sunny, this Downtown dive is run the way she deems the best, and so far, her way has earned the bar a strong and positive following, delivering a beach-vibe in the middle of Downtown Houston.
El Tiempo Cantina is a lively family-run Tex-Mex chain restaurant known for serving hearty dishes. The eatery dishes out authentic classics, using an original family recipe for the fajita grill spice, which is an all-purpose spice mix that is hotter than habanero hot sauce. Plus, getting free freshly fried chips served with a duo of salsas is pretty much guaranteed.
Los Tios Mexican Restaurants is a casual chain restaurant that has been serving everyone's classic Tex-Mex favorites since 1970. Los Tios is also known for being one of the first spots to serve frozen margaritas back in 1975, made with top-shelf tequilas and fresh squeezed limes. Plus, chips, salsa, and green sauce come free.
Molina's is the oldest locally owned and operated Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston, and it’s the type of establishment where diners have been regulars for decades, a place that’s witnessed more milestones and celebrations than most eateries will ever get to. Though you’ll stay for the camaraderie, you’ll undoubtedly come for the food, constructed into a menu of burritos, tacos, grilled fajitas, and signature Tex-Mex combo platters. Your first time, you’ll want to snack on the Original Jose’s Dip, chili con queso blended with spicy taco meat and served with pale, crispy tortilla chips. Also, be sure to try the Mexico City Dinner: a queso-covered fried tortilla puff; a beef taco and bean tostada; and a cheese enchilada and pork tamale topped with chili con carne. Served with rice and beans, these plates sure give you bang for your buck.
The fajitas at the original Tex-Mex outpost on Navigation earn their cook the title of Mexican fare experts. Alongside the fajitas, staples like mole enchiladas, Oaxacan-style pork tamales, and jalapeño-stuffed Shrimp Diablo (not to mention the head-sized frozen margaritas) take some serious culinary chops, which means these dishes go far above and beyond Houston's other Tex-Mex eateries.
This tex-mex neighborhood haunt serves up freshly made cactus tortillas, refreshing salsas, as well as other "skinny" more diet-conscious favorites like flautas de pollo and fish tacos. The space is designed with all-wood paneling, warm light, and a group-friendly aesthetic. So, bring your group, and feel free to shamelessly indulge away with only your socializing in mind.
This upscale South American steakhouse in River Oaks offers prime cuts in a modern, luxe setting. From classic taquitos to drool-worthy tres leches, there are countless reasons to check Churrascos out, but the center-cut beef tenderloin, slightly charred from the smoky grill and glistening with addicting chimichurri sauce, will keep you coming back.
This trendy Rice Village eatery offers top-notch American fare, an outdoor patio, and one of Houston's best happy hours. We recommend chowing down on some of their delicious burgers, which hold a special place in the hearts of Houston locals.
Vallone’s sprawling back-lit bar is a big draw for happy hour, especially with its large screens and plenty of elbow room to sip or sup. In the handsome glass-paved dining room, there’s a show-and-tell display of raw meats brought to your table before ordering. Beautifully charred and seasoned USDA prime dry-aged strips and rib eyes rock, and the wine list wins with an Italian accent.
Fancy a nightcap? Make it a Pinot or a 'presso at Beckrew Wine Bar in Upper Kirby. The kitchen serves Italian and Spanish fusion dishes while the wine bar has more than 100 bottles on offer from spots around the globe (there's an emphasis on small vineyards and producers).
Upscale Italian dishes, family recipe meatballs, and an extensive wine list make this done-up Italian restaurant a neighborhood favorite. Though high ceilings and white tablecloths might lend itself to a refined atmosphere, the crowd is local, contributing to a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that rightly complement hearty homemade pasta options.
Whether you're looking for a classy lunch or dinner, or just want to park it on the patio with $9 bottomless mimosas and do some people watching -- if you've come to Cru, you've made the right decision.
This massive furniture chain in Galleria offers above-average delivery services on a wide variety of reasonably-priced furniture goods, including ottoman, couches, and beds. And in an interesting twist, you can get your new leather couch with a side of free cake here too. Or just get the free cake.
From the restaurant group behind better known Brasserie 19 and Coppa Osteria, Ibiza is the team's coastal Spanish concept, with menu items like crab-stuffed whole fish and truffle gnocchi.
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.) Colorful murals also beckon guests to the space, which comes with patio seating and fire pits, so you can indulge in wild boar chop, roasted whole fish, and wild mushroom lasagna, in a literally warm and welcoming setting.
This modern Japanese sushi bar lures diners by randomly giving away things like free sushi, appetizers, and quite possibly dessert. The large space -- decked out with glossy all-wood floors, and a sushi bar where you can watch a chef expertly slice your dinner -- make this spot ideal for date nights as much as for rambunctious lychee martini-fueled group occasions.
This contemporary south African fusion restaurant is the only South African fusion restaurant in Texas. First-timers can get an appetizer on the house just by signing up for the newsletter. For repeat customers (as all first-timers are sure to become) can indulge in chicken and seafood dishes prepared with marinades, seasonings and spices used in South African cuisine with Dutch, Portuguese and Asian influences. Memorable for its romantic atmosphere, the space features a 30-foot tall, one-of-a-kind Acacia Tree and contemporary architecture sure to supply your first date with plenty of ice breakers and talking points.
Canino Produce Co. is a family-owned market -- open since 1958 -- offers food tastings and demos the second Saturday of every month from 10am-noon. The market occupies over 20,000 square feet, offering the freshest and finest produce available at great prices. Most of the produce is sourced locally in Texas, but there's also a variety of delicious eats that get shipped in from all over the United States and the world.
Central Market is a high-end green grocery store offering produce, meat, cheese, seafood, wine, beer, flowers & already made food. You can make a small lunch out of walking around one of these grocery stores, which feature free samples of things like sushi & dumplings, cheeses, and whatever cool stuff is going on at the butcher counter.
This family-owned winery in Rice Village offers small-production artisanal wines produced from vineyards throughout France. Try a glass either at one of many restaurants in the greater Houston and Austin area, or at an on-site tasting. Pro tip: Saturday's on-the-house wine tastings often feature on-the-house cheeses and/or desserts.
Houston's premier cheesemongers, Dairymaids is known for its expertly-picked lineup of artisan cheeses that highlights local, Texas farms. Alongside this these retail options, Houston Dairymaid is also known for its free, daily cheese tasting: six cheeses, selected by those who know best, in addition to fresh bread from Slow Dough Bakery. Wine and beer pairings are also available.
Located in Memorial, Olive & Vine is a family-owned "European-style tasting bar" that supplies over 50 varieties of extra-virgin olive oils and aged-balsamic vinegars, from both around the world and United States. Highlights at this speciality boutique spot include a positively decadent chocolate dark balsamic and the smokey chipotle pepper infused oil.
Sandwich enthusiasts know Midtown’s biggest liquor store is hiding one of the best delis in town. Get a pastrami melt dripping with Dijon and gooey Swiss cheese on toasted rye or a Texan whose warmed roast beef on toasted sourdough is met with the crunch of bacon, the punch of Cheddar, and the nutrition of grilled onions and tomatoes. If you’re a vegetarian, the aptly titled Rabbit sandwich might suit you better, boasting grilled eggplant, squash, zucchini, and red peppers on focaccia. Bargain-priced bottled wine is abundant at Spec’s, which is convenient because sometimes you need some cheap wine to go with your deli meats.
Since 1994, Urban Harvest Farmers' Market has been a leader in Houston's green scene with its dedication to community, nutrition, and sustainability. Year round, this massive farmer's market is the city's premier hub for organic, locally-grown produce. And in addition to supplying fresh fruits and veggies, this place also offers classes on gardening, sustainability, and healthy practices.
This husband-and-wife owned Rice Village spot brings the VOM FASS brand to Houston with a products like oils, vinegars, spices, and gourmet foods. Elevate your cooking with the unique array of these specialized products, which includes nut, seed, and infused oils, fruit balsamic vinegars, exotic salts, and a number of syrups and spreads. Be sure to stop in and try a sample of the jalapeño and blueberry balsamic.
Your favorite super market stocked with fresh produce, an amazing bakery, healthy snacks and the best hot food bar and prepared food counter pretty much ever. If you haven’t eaten your weight in samples of seaside cheddar, beef jerky, and smoked salmon, you've been living a lie.