Best Houston Happy Hours: River Oaks
Few things get you through the week better than a good happy hour. In Houston’s River Oaks area, there are lots to choose from—and a lot of ground to cover. This list aims to whittle the considerable choices down to some of the best, whether it be thanks to great bar bites or cheap whiskey shots. The neighborhood boundaries between River Oaks, Upper Kirby and Montrose tend to blur and overlap (and various kinds of maps don’t necessarily agree), so some omissions here may be on our forthcoming Upper Kirby or Montrose lists. We’re continually scouting out great happy hours all over town (links to our Galleria and Downtown lists), so also email us those in any other areas of Houston that should be checked out!
Américas, 2040 West Gray: Available in the bar, lounge and patio, Américas has many items to choose from during its happy hour, offered daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and all day on Thursdays. Wine lovers can enjoy selected chardonnay, rosé, merlot and malbec at $5.95 per glass, eight bottle selections at $29.95 each, five signature cocktails including the caipirinha and Moscow mule for $5.95. Every beer on the menu is only $2.95. Food lovers aren’t left out of the ample items to choose from, either. There are nine small plate options to choose from like chicken or beef empanadas, fish tacos and mixto ceviche with rainforest tilapia, gulf shrimp, avocado, red onions, cilantro and jalapeños. The small plates range from $5.95 to $7.95 each.
Backstreet Cafe, 1103 South Shepherd: A staple on the Houston restaurant scene, Chef Hugo Ortega’s Backstreet Cafe evokes the feeling of being welcomed into a friend’s home. Monday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., guests can enjoy “The Rosé Hours” featuring 50-percent off bottles of rose, $6 select wines, $5 sangria and wild berry mimosas, some classic cocktails for $5 or $6 and all Texas craft brews for $6 or less. The menu holds its own, too. The Hugo’s Burger paired with a bottle of Yalumba Shiraz is only $30 and nine other options to choose from include mini tuna poke, roasted avocado and a petite lobster sandwich ranging from $6 to $10 each.
Cru Food & Wine Bar, 2800 Kirby: Those looking to get a little shopping done before or after happy hour might find CRU Food & Wine Bar to be the perfect stop. It’s located in the West Ave River Oaks retail space. CRU offers its “relax & un-wine” time Monday through Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. A selection of $4 to $6 happy hour plates includes pot stickers, steamed mussels and goat cheese beignets. There’s also always a $6 chef’s feature of the day. For drinks, all glasses or flights of wine are $3 off. In addition to happy hour, CRU also runs other concurrent daily specials like “Pizza Mondays” (get any pizza on the menu free with the purchase of any full-price bottle of wine) and “Champagne Social” on Thursdays (get 50-percent off all Champagnes by the bottle from 4 p.m. to close).
Drexel House Eatery & Wine Bar, 3974 Westheimer: Tucked away inside Highland Village and sporting a covered patio, this casual and cozy wine bar is an easy spot to relax after work. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. with half off all sparkling wines as well as draft and tap beers. While there aren’t technically food specials during happy hour, Drexel‘s regular menu has several affordable small plates. The “sweet things and starters” include a baguette with lox and vanilla beignets. There are also over a dozen full-size pizzas ranging from $11 to $14 that will keep most happy hour goers well fed.
Franks Americana Revival and White Star Bar, 3736 Westheimer: This long-standing restaurant offers a wide variety of American comfort food using locally sourced ingredients while the cozy White Star Bar area has a “everybody-knows-your-name” atmosphere. Happy hour is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Drinks are the focal point, with premium well martinis and Manhattans for $7, seasonal specialty cocktails for $7, house wines for $6 a glass, premium well cocktails for $5, draft beer for $4 and bottled beer for $3. On the bar bites menu there are seven options ranging from short rib sliders to a cheese board with selections from Houston Dairymaids. Bar bites range from $2 to $14 each.
Le Colonial, 4444 Westheimer: This upscale Vietnamese restaurant located in the River Oaks District is comprised of a bar and lounge upstairs with a full dining room downstairs. While the restaurant’s elevated Vietnamese food is somewhat on the pricey side, Le Colonial offers Social Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. every day—except Sundays when specials are offered from 7 p.m. to close. On the menu are six Le Bar Bites for $8 each featuring items like Go Gai with lemongrass poached cage free chicken, Texas grapefruit with onion, mint, cilantro, toasted peanuts and chili garlic vinaigrette; and Bo Bia, or cold vegetable rolls of wok stir-fried chayote, mushrooms, jicama, cage free eggs and toasted peanuts. To go along with the tasty bar bites, Le Colonial offers select cocktails for $8 each, three $5 draft beers and a featured red and white wine also for $8 per glass.
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, 4224 San Felipe: Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette’s weekday happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and also on Sunday nights from 5 to 9 p.m. The menu is the same for both, with a half dozen “kitchen bites” ranging from meaty options like three sweet & hot flank ribs and steak sauce to lighter fare like a petite version of their tuna poke classic. All small bites range in price from a dollar each for select oysters to $6 for the ribs. Certain cocktails, including favorites like the French 75 and Liberty Old Fashioned, all come in at $6. Domestic cans of beer and six-ounce drafts are $2, while wine and well pours are $5 to $6 each.
Piggy’s Kitchen and Bar, 3412 West Lamar: On the border of River Oaks and north Montrose sits The Creek Group’s Piggy’s Kitchen and Bar. Specifically, it’s at the corner of Lamar and Dunlavy in the former Daily Review spot. Happy hour runs Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. While Piggy’s doesn’t disclose the full happy hour details on the menu, select Texas drafts and cocktails are $3 and $5, respectively. The seasonal menu also features house wine specials and alternating light bites. The spacious, dog-friendly patio is perfect for after-work cocktails when allowed by Houston’s fickle weather.
State of Grace, 3258 Westheimer: Restaurateur Ford Fry’s State of Grace has been a favorite of Houston foodies since it opened. Combining executive chef Bobby Matos’ love of oysters and the restaurant’s marbled Oyster Bar, the River Oaks restaurant offers one of the best happy hours in town for shellfish lovers. Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., four oyster selections—currently Indian Neck, Ichabod Flats, Southern Belle and Redfish Reef—are only $1 each. While there aren’t any drink specials on the happy hour menu, the $1 oysters more than make up for it.
The Railyard, 4200 San Felipe: Located in the same strip center as Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, this neighborhood bar sits just before the railroad tracks on San Felipe. While no food is offered, happy hour drink specials are every day of the week: from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday. During happy hour, get $3.50 well drinks and 25-percent off all wine (not including Champagne). In addition to the daily happy hour, The Railyard also offers Whiskey Wednesdays with $4.25 Buffalo Trace, Bushmills, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark with hospitality industry pricing kicking in after 10 p.m. Other daily deals include Beer N’A Shot Thursdays and Fireball Fridays.
Toulouse Cafe and Bar and Taverna, 4444 Westheimer: Like Le Colonial, French bistro Toulouse and Italian pizzeria Taverna are located in the ritzy River Oaks District shopping center. At both, happy hour is only offered in the bar. It runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday at Taverna and the same time Monday through Friday at Toulouse. Toulouse offers five petites bouchees like goat cheese croquettes and scallop carpaccio as well as select drinks for $7 each. Taverna‘s happy hour features six specialty pizzas and six cicchetti (savory snacks) for $7 each. Well drinks, draft beers and selected wines are $5.
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.
About the author: Beth Levine writes about food, drinks, lifestyle and travel for local and national publications including My Red Glasses, Houstonia, Local Houston Magazine, Charlotte’s Book and Houston Food Finder. An executive assistant by day and freelance writer by night, Beth is originally from both New Jersey and California, but currently calls Houston home. You can follow her on IG @Yogaspots.