El Alma Cafe y Cantina
Do you know where to go when you’re in the mood for margaritas and chips and salsa (and queso and ceviche... )? El Alma is the answer. In addition to a generous happy hour, the Barton Springs restaurant has a shady rooftop with views of Austin’s skyline. Pro-tip: order the The Margarita Chilanga, an ice-cold frozen margarita infused with a spicy chili powder, for the ultimate local's wind-down experience.
El Alma is a Barton Springs institution, not just because it throws awesome Cinco de Mayo parties on its breezy rooftop, but because the food tastes like mom’s cooking and the cocktails drink like they were spiked by your big bro. Must-eats include the Roasted Duck Rellens with almond and raisin stuffed poblano, tomato salsa, and rice, or any of their Enchiladas—we love the veggie. Always say yes to the tequila-based drink of the month.
How to book: Order takeout from Toast.
El Alma’s casual rooftop patio is an all-year escape from the city, with prices that make you feel like you’ve been airlifted to a neighborhood cantina in Guadalajara. The menu offers seasonal Margaritas and Mojitos alongside Queso Fundido and tangy Ceviche, and the happy hour runs daily between 3 and 6 pm with discounts across the board including on the famed Mangorita, a frozen margarita swirled with tequila-marinated mango purée and served with an el chile rim.
El Alma remains one of the most popular spots in Barton Springs, thanks to a rooftop boasting skyline views and a menu that’s equal parts quality and affordable. Here, chef Alma Alcocer showers Austin with Mexico City-born gems like Crema de Elote and Roasted Duck Relleno, among other enticing dishes. Happy hours run daily between 3 pm and 6 pm, and the weekend brunch from 10 am to 3 pm is well worth booking days in advance.
How to order: Get delivery via Uber Eats.
It’s hard to beat El Alma when it comes to outdoor patios—their umbrella-decked rooftop deck, which overlooks the greenery of Butler Park, is the ideal place for happy hour people (and dog) watching. Although, to be fair, with enough of their Jacked Sangrias (yes, that’s sangria plus Jack Daniel’s—we promise it works), almost anyone can get in the “Friday-after-work” mood. Luckily, the food prepared at El Alma, by chef and partner Alma Alcocer, packs as much of a punch as their drinks. While Alcocer’s Mexico City roots are firmly planted in the flavors of each dish she creates, it would be a crime to go to El Alma without ordering her signature Crema de Elote soup, a smooth and earthy chowder made of corn and poblano pepper which is topped with queso panela.
How to order: Reservations can be made online for dine-in, as well as for food to-go. There is also a subscription service, El Alma at Home, currently being offered.