You need to unwind after work. You need cheap drinks and great nibbles. You need a fantastic happy hour. This guide will show you the way.
Benjys in the village is my go-to happy hour spot. Excellent drinks and great food specials for just $6. Get the blood orange margarita, the pork dumplings over tangy cabbage slaw, a gourmet truffle and pine nut pizza. Snag a seat on the outside deck before the sun goes down with a friend or girlfriend, and go to town.
The decor at this neighborhood bistro is crazy-gothic, but that's part of the charm & food is solid. My fave is their Kobe Burger. The long bar (renovated a few years ago to accommodate more people) is perfect for single diners; happy hour specials and drinks are also solid.
If you are looking for tex-mex and want tex-mex prices, don't go to Hugo's. However, if you are looking for excellent service, flavorful regional Mexican dishes, and a superb dining experience, visit Hugo Ortega's eponymous restaurant. Seasonal dishes that include squash blossoms are a must, the lobster taquito addictive, the whole snapper a la veracruzana stunning, the costillas (ribs) just delicious. Fantastic beverage program overseen by Sommelier Sean Beck. Mojitos and sangria are $5 during happy hour with food specials like ceviche. Sunday brunch is hands-down the best in town.
There's a reason why the scene is always vibrant at Flemings River Oaks: Impeccable service, a fantastic wine list/bar, and superbly prepared steak. Their 5 for $6 until 7pm happy hour -- which includes a fantastic Prime Burger with cheese & bacon -- is also one of the best in town.
The Perry's famous pork chop is to-die-for. Served sizzling at the table, it is a sight to behold and worth every penny. Their chateaubriand is also worth the splurge if you prefer beef. M-F the "Social Hour" features good drink and app specials.
Go here with friends to hang out. Vibe is fun, sound system/music is great, drinks are large & tasty. Specialty rolls are a good bet & hot ginger/garlic edamame is addictive.
Happy hour is a bargain with $3 plates, and the tiny strip mall restaurant gets really busy, but patrons don't really seem to mind the wait because the deal is worth it.
Rattan's pan-Asian food is bold and beautiful. They have state-of-the-art enomatic system so they can serve wines by the glass. Get the clams, the short ribs, and the tuna/avocado tower, and the rice noodles wrapped in egg shell. Happy hour is 4-7pm and awesome, too.
When I am craving crab, I go to Trulucks. Their crab claw platter is second to none in town. Happy hour in the bar area great, too - everything on the bar menu is half off including cocktails like their lychee martini or mojito (about $5 for HH)
Named Best Sushi Restaurant 2012 by Houston Press, the modern Japanese, high-quality sushi by exec chef Manabu Horiuchi makes this one of the best restaurants in the city. Splurge on a 8 or 10 course omakase, or chef's tasting, and count the number of "Wow's" that fall from your lips. Seasonal cold soba noodles and ramen experiments when it gets colder are always a must try. Chefs also happen to love this place when they're off duty -- you'll find them at the bar or taking food to-go.
Chef David Grossman offers modern, stylish, irreverently decadent food --think duck fat popcorn, Australian butter poached wagyu, and his famous sticky toffee pudding.
Chef Randy Evan's dishes are nouveau-American, basically American food reinvented with fresher ingredients, new spice, new presentation. What was once old becomes new, like the corn dog shrimp appetizer with the spicy cream sauce. His menu resonates with Houstonians -- one of the reasons he was voted Chef of the Year 2012 in the My Table Magazine Culinary Awards. The restaurant is elegant without being too stuffy, an excellent destination for a date, with an an affordable, well-curated wine list and cocktails to match.
Get the Sobe and Rainforest roll, strawberry martini made with sake, and Ricardo to serve you. Techno music and flat screen tv's in the bar
Coppa is upscale Italian without being too snobby. Good Washington scene, solid food by Chef Brandi Key. Carbonara pasta is the signature dish, a must-order if you've never tried it. The Coppa ham and quail egg pizza has got to be my favorite -- super tasty. Lots of gluten friendly pasta options and house-made pastas, like the potato ravioli or the bigoli, offer some delicious choices.
Is there a hotter restaurant in Houston? Quite possibly not. Creative, avant-garde, elevated Japanese cuisine is a joy to discover and savor, with Chef de Cuisine Kaz Edwards turning out some of the most intellectually compelling dishes you'll ever taste. Standouts on the regular menu include the machi cure, Hama chili, bacon tataki, daily oysters, cantaloupe okashi dessert and the carefully constructed specials from the kitchen that change every two weeks.
MKT bar is a hidden gem. Hidden, because it's part of the much larger Phoenicia Specialty foods downtown. A gem, because the sight that greets you is always unexpected. Tuesday nights, you're greeted with sultry sound of tango, as newbies and more seasoned dancers hit the floor showing off their moves. Saturdays are vinyl nights, with local guest DJ's spinning everything from 80's to Michael Jackson. At night, the lights are dim. It's part bar, part cafe. The concrete floors give it this warehouse-y vibe, and the scene is eclectic. The menu is solid, with pizzas and tapas-like appetizers, along with an extremely reasonably priced wine and beer list. It's a place where you can go and sit at the bar, order a glass of sparkling rose with their fantastic steak night special ($12 on tuesday and thursdays), and chat with whoever's manning the bar. You could just as easily go with a few friends for some drinks and nosh before heading out for the night.
The partridge family retro motif on the wall meets luxe interior at Benjy's on Washington, which perfectly captures the youthful chic of Washington Avenue. The perfect pre-clubbing destination to see and be seen, this is not one of those places that does lip service to food. Under Japanese Chef Mike Potowski's direction, the eclectic American menu turns out everything from pleasing sashimi specials to riffs on Japanese noodles, or their famous fried chicken. Happy hour cocktails and nosh, like the blood mary margarita or a Asian dumplings, are a stellar $6.
The authentic, beautifully plated, modern Peruvian cuisine by Chef Roberto Castre deserves all the raves it gets. Colorful causitas, intricately prepared tiraditos, one of the best lomo saltado's you'll taste anywhere, and seasonal specials like the delicious duck confit with cilantro rice are just some of the dishes you should sample at this restaurant. Perfect for a date night, you will ooh and ahh over the beautiful dishes at this Latin American hotspot. For lone diners, the marble-topped bar overlooking the ceviche station is also a great spot to sip on a pisco sour and enjoy your meal while watching the action in front of you.
Super super thin pizzas that you can eat whole without feeling guilty. This direct franchise from Italy is a great midtown hotspot for happy noshing. During happy hour (4-6pm), taste free appetizers as you sip on your caipirinha and nosh on $6-$8 pizza specials. When the weather is good, grab a seat on the patio; and if it's not, situate yourself at the colorful, lively bar, the best place to munch on your Neopolitan style pie.