Happy hour specials come and go, but these Austin institutions consistently deliver a fun atmosphere every night of the week, in addition to great specials. Most of them also have food, which may help you drink responsibly.
1. El Arroyo
The Tex-Mex restaurant and bar is beloved for its ever-changing sign, which is strategically positioned near the street to attract stressed-out downtown workers as they head home.
The sign recently read, "Abs are cool, bu have you tried tacos?" Another example: "I like to drink when I work out. I call it Bacardio." In addition to discounted margaritas and beer, the El Arroyo happy hour also offers massive nacho plates for only $2.75. The large outdoor patio makes this a great meeting place for groups. 1624 West 5th Street; (512) 474-1222
Expect dirt-cheap pints during every happy hour, but Tuesday is the most popular because all beers are discounted. Free bratwurst is served on Saturdays, and a rotating lineup of food trucks is available in the parking lot. The interior is small, but there’s plenty of seating outdoors. Beer nerds love this place and will happily help you choose your brew if you don't mind listening to their sometimes long-winded beer analyses. 4112 Medical Parkway; (512) 452-6258
3. Driskill Bar
If you’re new in town, this is the type of Texas bar you might’ve expected: lamps made out of pistols, longhorn head on the wall, chairs upholstered with spotted cowhide, marble staircases.
The decor may be a little stereotypical, but the crowd never is. You can expect to meet anyone from movie producers to Internet tycoons at this fun little piano bar on the second floor of the historic Driskill Hotel. During happy hour, tasty bites from the adjoining gourmet restaurant are available at reasonable prices.
Don’t miss the parmesan chive popcorn. Also, the old-school bartenders won’t flinch if you order drinks such as an Old Fashioned or a Sidecar. 604 Brazos Street; (512) 391-7162
Offering plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Trudy’s is an ideal location for happy hour with a large group. The Mexican martini is the drink of choice, but Bloody Marys and frozen margaritas are also first-rate. If you’re hungry, you can’t go wrong with a migas taco or a stuffed avocado plate. Oh, and for you day drinkers, happy hour starts at 2 p.m. 409 West 30th Street; (512) 477-2935
In business since 1987, the Crown and Anchor Pub is a laid-back neighborhood bar that’s just northeast of the University of Texas campus. The crowd is usually a mix of graduate students and older regulars from the nearby Hyde Park neighborhood. Come with a crowd to enjoy bargain pitchers and above-average (beef and veggie) burgers and fries. 2911 San Jacinto Boulevard; (512) 322-9168
Honorable Mention: The Jackalope
If you like to wind down with a little heavy metal music in the background, The Jackalope may be your perfect happy hour destination. This is one of the few 6th Street bars that attract mostly locals.
They offer deep discounts on drinks every night, and Wednesday is half-priced burger night. The chipotle bacon cheeseburger with waffle fries is a must-have. The honey jalapeno burger and veggie burger are also excellent. And, yeah, there is a giant bunny with horns in the middle of the bar, for your amusement. Patrons are allowed to mount the rabbit as long as they follow the posted rules. 404 East 6th Street; (512) 472-3663