Houston's Best for Happy Hours

Drinking dens
November 14, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Gather your friends for post-work drinks at one of these Houston Happy Hour hot spots.

Américas River Oaks
American · River Oaks · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

The River Oaks flagship of the Cordúa collection (Churrascos, Artista) offers “innovative” Pan-Latin creations that “are varied and well executed” and “range far beyond their signature beef dishes” (which are “excellent” , by the way); the “extremely modern” settings are “unique and edgy” , while the service is “gracious without being intrusive” , adding to its popularity as a destination for both “a romantic dinner and a business luncheon.”
Caracol Restaurant
Mexican · Galleria · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

Seafood gets an upscale spin at this “happening” Galleria Mexican that some say has “emerged as one of the best new restaurants” in town; housed on the ground floor of a sleek tower, the “vibrant” space boasts a “fun atmosphere” and several distinct areas, including an oyster bar, a private wine room and a traditional bar mixing “eclectic” drinks.
Laurenzo's Restaurant
Italian · Washington Corridor
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

The “gigantic” , “eclectic” menu at this Washington Corridor outpost from the owners of El Tiempo and The Original Ninfa's on Navigation goes well beyond American fare with “everything for everyone” (Mexican, Italian, pizza, etc.), but the calling card is the “excellent” prime rib; sports memorabilia–decked, dark wood–paneled walls and an “accommodating” staff help make for a “relaxing setting” that’s “as casual or formal as you want to make it."
New American · Rice Village · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

“Innovative, modern” New American fare plus a “really fun” cocktail list and a “comfortable” yet “chic” setting combine at these popular standbys; the “young and hip” arrive for “first-date drinks, brunch with the family and dinner with friends” , and it’s a “favorite happy-hour spot” too.
American · Montrose
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

Offering “21st-century comfort food – bright salads, inventive but light mains and just enough rich desserts” – this Montrose New American (sibling of Shade) is a “fine choice for lunch and brunch” and “highly recommended” for “date night or dinner” ; the “relaxing” yet “elegant” environs feature a “pickup sticks" –style sculpture hanging from the ceiling in the minimalist, airy dining room.
Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen
Tex-Mex · Washington Corridor · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

The Houston outposts of this homegrown cantina mini-chain are a favorite for “upscale Mexican food” backed by “potent” margaritas in “lively, upbeat” environs; service and setting vary by locale, but they all boast a well-attended happy hour.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
Bar · Montrose · $$$
Food - · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"Arrive early" and "be prepared to wait" at this "swanky" Montrose bar where crowds of "actual grown-ups" flock nightly for "expertly crafted" "Prohibition-era cocktails" , cheese and charcuterie in a "tastefully" decorated space (think exposed brick, dark wood and leather); sure, prices run "a bit high" , but that's to be expected when "talented" bartenders put so much "care into the creation" of each drink.
Wooster's Garden
Cocktail Bar · Midtown · $

With a focus on craft beer, seasonal cocktails and upscale takes on classic bar bites, this laid-back Midtown bar and grill is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The relaxed space boasts a modern interior with reclaimed-wood accents and a large outdoor patio.