In Italy, it’s called aperitivo. In France, it’s l’heure de l’apéro. In the United States, happy hour is widely recognized as that post-work, pre-dinner stop where you can relax, get a drink and maybe grab a snack — at a fraction of the price of a regular meal.
In need of a cocktail or something to nibble on before heading out for the night? Houston’s got you covered with these 10 late-afternoon, deliciously decadent detours.
There’s nothing like bubbles to get you in the celebratory mood. So, if you find yourself free on a Thursday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., pop on over to this industrial-chic dining room for its single-day happy hour.
Each week, co-executive chefs Freddie Gonzaga and Jose Ruiz come up with a slew of inexpensive seasonal gourmet offerings — beef carpaccio and truffled mac and cheese fritters were featured recently — designed to be paired with a 200-plus champagne list.
Still debating whether to pop the cork? Discounted pours of bubbly, rosé and white wine (not to mention $5 Old Fashioneds) will keep you happy and hydrated.
Is the happy-hour menu (offered Monday to Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.) at James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega’s eponymous restaurant one of the best in Houston?
If you consider the high level of technique and workmanship that goes into creating the $4 Taco Cuaresmeño (a chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeño served atop a hand-formed corn tortilla), the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Add in roasted chicken enchiladas enrobed in a rich mole poblano, perfect little one-bite wonders (crispy, crab-topped Tostaditas de Jaiba) and an entire taco tasting menu, and there’s little room for argument. The fact that an expertly crafted Hugo Rita can be had for $6 is just icing on the cake.
Never mind how cool it is that Geto Boys rapper Willie D invented one of its signature cocktails (the margarita-inspired My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me) or that the menus are printed on genuine vinyl records, happy hour at Riel is the real deal.
Recently extended hours mean that the flavorful new menu of small plates is now offered all night on Mondays, and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Bites include creations like executive chef Ryan Lachaine’s crispy chicken skin yakitori, tempura cauliflower with kimchi hot sauce, and roasted bone marrow served with all the fixins — you can even upgrade the bone marrow with shot of Old Grand-Dad whiskey for $5.
Drink specials include beer for $4, select wines for $7 and cocktails for $10 or less.
A line starts forming outside of this Houston sushi joint’s main entrance just before 5 p.m every day. The reason: its Sake Social hour, which takes place daily from 5 to 6:30 p.m., is simply incredible.
Miniature versions of Uchi classics like Walu Walu (oak-grilled escolar fish) and Machi Cure (smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond) can be had for just $6.
Sushi rolls and creative tastings like chef de cuisine Chris Davies’ pork rillette with tamarind curry are all in the sub-$10 range, while sake, wine and cocktails ring in at no more than $7.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a lovelier social hour than the one hosted at this 1920s-influenced dining room in the upscale River Oaks District. Head for the gorgeous upstairs bar area from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday to feast on French-Vietnamese nibbles by chefs Nicole Routhier and Hassan Obaye.
Shareable $8 plates include Routhier’s classic cha gio fried egg rolls, crispy sui cao chien dumplings and a unique dish of ga nuong lui (grilled Springer Mountain chicken wrapped around sugar cane).
Wine and exotic cocktails, such as a vodka, passionfruit and lime creation called Passion, are also just $8, with select beer for $5.
If you need to rest your feet after a marathon shopping session at the Houston Galleria, Yauatcha’s Flow & Prosper menu — offered from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday — entices you to do just that.
Sip on $8 specialty cocktails like the lip-tingling Szechuan Margarita while noshing on a bevy of Classic, Signature and Specialty dim sum dishes. Highlights include pork and prawn shiu mai (dumplings), the picture-perfect roasted duck pumpkin puff and crispy mushroom spring rolls with black truffle.
Named after the Japanese word for “fun,” Tanoshi Hour offers all the flavor of the classic Nobu experience but with a more laid-back vibe.
Presented daily from 5 to 7 p.m. in the bar lounge, food specials such as crispy-savory black cod lettuce cups (miso black cod is a signature Nobu dish), fresh oysters with three Nobu sauces and prime beef kushiyaki (grilled skewers) ring in at $12 or less.
A selection of sips like the Lilikoi Margarita (a classic tequila drink done with passion fruit juice) are also priced at $12, while beer, wine and sake specials can be had for $12 or less.
If French classics such as Hudson Valley foie gras terrine and caramelized cheese soufflé sound enticing, happy hour at this posh Parisian address is sure to please.
Francophiles who flock to this Uptown establishment on weekdays from 3 to 6:30 p.m. are rewarded with refreshing $6 cocktails like the raspberry mule, select bottles of wine for just $25 (or $7 by the glass) and beer for $3.50.
Pleasurable half-price bites range from grilled octopus and citrusy salmon tartare to tuna flatbread with creme fraiche, capers and green onion.
Midday drinkers will love the happy hour at this charming, locally owned River Oaks neighborhood spot.
The drinks portion runs Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with select wine and cocktails for just $6 (we recommend the Frozen Salty Dog) and beer for $3.
Wholesome American snacks with a Mediterranean twist by chef-owner Dustin Teague — think fried chicken-topped deviled eggs, melon and prosciutto, or peach and whipped ricotta crostini — are on special from 3 to 5:30 p.m., inviting you to imbibe and graze at leisure.
With items like charred heirloom tomato salad with black garlic dressing, wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings, and sweet corn with soy garlic butter, the happy hour menu at Roka Akor’s Houston outpost can easily double for trendy Japanese gastropub fare — just without the price tag.
From 4:30 to 6 p.m. daily, head to the bar and lounge to take advantage of the steak and sushi house’s stellar reasonably priced specials on small plates and spirits.