Houston's rush-hour traffic is infamous — especially around downtown. Come 5 p.m., the concrete and glass high-rises empty out onto the streets and interstates, leaving a long train of red taillights moving as slow as molasses.
At the end of the work week, what better way to wait out the worst of it than by grabbing a discounted drink and some tasty appetizers with some friends or colleagues? Here are five great happy hour spots near Houston's downtown.
Part & Parcel was made for happy hour. This patio bar, located at The Whitehall hotel, is right in the heart of downtown and is a favorite among nearby office workers.
The 1963 Happy Hour — named for the year The Whitehall first opened — is from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m., with live music starting at 5 p.m. Beer pails and bottles of house wines are less than $20 or $4 and $5 each respectively. Classic old fashioned and Mott's Manhattan cocktails are $10. Small bites like chips and queso, meat-and-cheese plates, and street tacos are also available.
For many, happy hour is all about the drinks, but at Underbelly, it's about the food. Dubbed the “Covers Menu,” the restaurant's happy hour eats are the chef’s version of favorite dishes from other chefs.
“I’ve learned so much from other chefs,” said Underbelly Chef Chris Shepherd said. “It’s an honor for me to show them respect by giving my customers an opportunity to taste these dishes that have inspired me to be a better cook. Hopefully, my customers will seek out some of these restaurants when they travel to experience the original.”
That being said, it wouldn't be a happy hour without some discounted drinks. In addition to the Covers Menu, all glasses of wine are half off. Both are available daily from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to midnight.
If you're the kind to feel a little guilty for having a drink or two, OKRA Charity Saloon can help with that. Each month, all proceeds from food and beverages purchased at this bar go to benefit a local non-profit organization or social cause — making indulging in a beverage there, at worst, morally neutral.
Here's how it works: Patrons get tickets for purchasing food or drinks that they then put into containers featuring three Houston-area organizations or causes. The group with the most tickets at the end of the month gets an entire month's proceeds.
On top of being a virtuous premise, the bar itself is worth visiting. The space is full of exposed brick and wood beams, and the food and cocktails are delicious. The high quality should come as no surprise, given that the bar is run by a virtual Who's Who of Houston's hospitality industry. In fact, the paninis on the menu are named after various Houston bars and restaurants, whose owners are on Okra’s board.
Don’t let the name fool you. They don’t actually serve pastries here. This bar specializes in agave-based drinks with a few Mexican and Tex-Mex eats on the side.
All mescals and tequilas are half off from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily as part of their “Mezquila” Happy Hour — so named to poke fun at Mezquila, the brainchild of musicians Sammy Hagar and Adam Levine that is a somewhat acrid combination of mescal and tequila.
The happy hour is “a huge opportunity to taste all of our amazing agave spirits and make fun of Sammy Hagar and Adam Levine's stupidity at the same time,” said owner Bobby Heugel.
The Pastry War is located on the north side of downtown, just off the METRORail Red Line’s Preston Station. In addition to accepting standard forms of payment, the bar also accepts pesos. Yes, seriously.
Once upon a time at 807 Taft Street, a now famous deli set up shop and forever altered Houston's culinary scene. Now, the new tenants have dedicated their happy hour menu to paying their respects. Provisions' signature item is The Original Po Boy, a new spin on Houston's beloved Antone's Po Boy.
"50 years ago, the Antone’s Import company opened and helped change the way Houstonians eat," the happy hour menu states. "This menu pays homage to the business that started it all."
In addition to the unique food items, select cocktails are $6, wines are $5 and beers are $4. Happy hour starts early — 2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. — and there's ample parking in the back.