Houston Happy Hours: Best In Downtown For Small Groups

There are the planned after-work events—and then the unplanned after-work events. If you’re the person in the office who’s always supposed to know where to go, you’re going to love these recommendations for great places in downtown Houston for impromptu gatherings.

The trick is coming up with a place on-the-fly that has both good drinks and light bites. It can’t be a dive and it can’t be tre trendy, lest it be jam-packed with revelers. The following bars and restaurants not only have great happy hours but are also likely to have the room to host a small group on little to no notice.

El Big Bad, 419 Travis: The restaurant and bar named for the Big Bad Wolf has two stories, an ample patio and a private room perfect for after-work cocktails and Mexican food. El Big Bad is known for creative takes on margaritas and infused tequilas, and the happy hour offers eight menu items at only $5 each. The street tacos and daily ceviche are standouts. In addition, there are five house margaritas to choose from, select beers on tap, wine and a cocktail special of the day.

Henke Pillot cocktails
A selection of cocktails (and a beer) at Henke & Pillot. Photo courtesy of Henke & Pillot.

Henke & Pillot, 809 Congress: Named for a grocer that existed long ago on the 800 block on Congress, Henke & Pillot regular business hours run from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., with the kitchen open until 10 p.m.  As Henke & Pillot likes to keep things interesting, the happy hour menu changes weekly. Currently their menu covers a wide variety of fare with Caribbean, African and Creole influences and the happy hour special offers a flat rate of $8 across the board for bar bites, $3 well cocktails, and $5 beer and wine.

Conservatory Underground Beer Garden & Food Hall, 1010 Prairie: Houston’s first food hall, housed underground in a warm and very green atmosphere, runs happy hour daily from 3 to 7 p.m. with all drafts for $4 and various specials from multiple food vendors. The current ones include Arte Pizzeria, El Burro, Moku Bar, The Pho Spot. For those looking to get their wine on, Noble Rot Wine Bar which has a selection of $5 wines by the glass and $7 for a flight of three.

Public Services
Located in the historic Cotton Exchange building, Public Services Wine & Whisky is one of Houston’s prettiest bars (and they have a fantastic selection of libations, too). Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Public Service Wine & Whisky, 202 Travis: Located inside the historic Cotton Exchange building, Public Services Wine & Whisky is known for an extensive selection of what it’s named for and a small but well-chosen selection of classic cocktails. Chef Justin Yu’s bar bites range from “Li’l Smokies” and toasted nuts to more unique offerings like mussels in marinade and smoked Gulf fish spread. (Yu also helms Theodore Rex and Better Luck Tomorrow.) Whisky pours can be as small as three-quarters of an ounce and wine a mere three ounces. That enables guests to taste their way through a variety of libations at reasonable prices. Public Service’s happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., with 25-percent off all wine, select cocktails for $6 and certain beers for $2. Happy hour food specials include the Marcona almonds and the toasted nuts and seeds at $5 each.

Hearsay Gastro Lounge and Hearsay On The Green218 Travis and 1515 Dallas: While the dinner menu at both locations might be a little on the pricey side for an after-work get together, both locations of Hearsay host happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily (at the bar only) with options including Threesome Wings and Grilled Salmon Sliders. Also featured are $6 craft and well cocktails, $5 house wine, $4 Karbach beer or $3 domestic beer bottles. The happy hour menu is not listed on Hearsay’s website and changes seasonally, so we recommend calling first to check the current specials.

mezcal at Xochi
Get one-ounce pours of select mezcals at Xochi during happy hour for $6 each. Photo by Paula Murphy.

Xochi, 1777 Walker: One of the best restaurants in Houston to open this year, Xochi from James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega brings a little bit of Oaxaca heaven to downtown Houston. Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6:30 pm and the menu offers revelers a chance to munch on wood-roasted and on-the-half-shell oysters at almost half the regular price, along with selected craft cocktails for $6. There are also red, white and rose wines for $6 a glass. For those looking for something besides oysters, the Bar Bites menu has a great selection of other food choices ranging from only $7 to $8 each. Or, learn something new with the Oaxacan Lending Library: one-ounce pours of mezcal for just $6 each.

Bar Bardot
Bar Bardot at Hotel Alessandra. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

Bar Bardot at Hotel Alessandra, 1070 Dallas: Located on the second floor of the newly opened Hotel Alessandra (and named after legendary French icon Brigitte Bardot), the Bardot Lounge offers a social hour with $7 house wines and $6 well drinks. The deals are available Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 3 to 6 p.m. There is also a selection of small bites like hummus and ceviche.

Prohibition Supper Club & Bar,1008 Prairie: Located next door to another entry on the list, Conservatory, Prohibition’s Oyster Bar is a destination for downtown seafood lovers. The Oyster Apocalypse Happy Hour features three selections for as low as 50 cents each as well as reasonably priced snacks from the regular menu. Featured cocktails run around $5 each, local brews for $3 and select wines by the glass are $5.

Batanga1121 Walker: This Latin American spot located right by Market Square Park boasts an impressive 3,600-square-foot patio alongside a historic clock tower. With such ample outdoor space and a happy hour menu with nothing over $6, on a nice night it will be tempting to stay for more than just a mojito and some flatbread.

So, no more looking for excuses to relax downtown after work. We just gave you nine!

Editor’s note: In our pursuit of all always having up-to-date neighborhood happy hour guides, we will be updating our guides on a monthly basis. If you have new happy hour information or changes to previously published information, just email our happy hour expert Beth Levine.

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