Where to Eat Right Now
Where to eat in Austin right now: 5 hot new happy hours for summer
Great happy hours are an Austin tradition. The casual nature of Austin living and dining certainly fits the concept, and for years a number of the city’s favorite perennials — from Z’Tejas to the Four Seasons — have offered great values for post-work happy hours and friendly gatherings.
This new Italian eatery on South Lamar is helmed by Chef Jason Garcia, a San Antonio restaurant veteran who has worked with some of that city’s top chefs, including Andrew Weissman, Bruce Auden and Mark Bohanan. The restaurant is adjacent to the Broken Spoke, so if you’d like to load up on carbs and Negronis before two-stepping, we can tell you from experience that the atmosphere and service are on point.
aRoma’s new early-evening happy hour offers 50 percent off the entire pizza menu, including the Radicchio (radicchio, fontina, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and mozzarella) and Il Maiale Interno (tomato, mozzarella, pancetta, prosciutto, sausage, capocollo). Pizza prices during happy hour are an outstanding $5 - $9; wine, beer and cocktails are all $1 off. For an ideal pairing, Garcia recommends an order of the calamari pie and a glass of Ruffino Rosatella Rosé ($8).
One doesn’t often associate the W with “bargain,” but Trace’s new weekday happy hour offers a wide selection of snacks and drink options. Among the best deals of the dozen food offerings are a brisket taco ($3), coconut curry mussel plate ($7), pork belly slider ($3) and mini goat Merguez sandwich with locally sourced goat and harissa aioli ($3). Texas craft beers are on deck for $4, 20 wines by the glass are priced from $6 - $9 and eight cocktails are available for $7 each. When choosing food, keep in mind thatChef Lawrence Kocurek has extensive charcuterie experience, so meaty items are usually a great bet.
East Seventh’s posh newcomer now hosts an early evening Mediterranean-inspired Mezze menu with a number of new items designed to share over a cocktail or glass of wine. The debut selections include lamb kebabs with pickled zucchini ($5); beet, watermelon and feta salad ($6) and salt cod and chickpea fritters ($7). Chef Allison Jenkins has a knack for making simple ingredients shine in unexpected ways, so don’t skip the simpler items like pickled eggs ($1.50) and pita with baba ganoush.
While the traditional happy hour at the “old” Jeffrey’s was an Austin tradition, many haven’t ventured into the new bar area after Larry McGuire’s opulent reboot. New happy hour items include a pan seared dry-aged bar steak ($14 during happy hour), a dry-aged prime wagyu burger ($12) and a smoked King salmon and caviar blini ($9). The new selection also has several salads: a classic iceberg wedge; a warm spinach, amaranth and arugula salad; and a heirloom squash and little gem salad all priced at $7. A soufflé, a soup and a cheese plate round out the lengthy bar menu.
Beverage Director June Rodil recommends the Charles Bove Rosé bubbles and the Château Senejac Bordeaux from her by-the-glass list (each is $2 off during happy hour), noting that the Bordeaux matches well with the bar steak as a "classic combination." She also suggests ordering a tartare with the bubbles.
This Manor Road burger shop from the team behind El Chile takes a more casual approach to happy hour than the other entrants on the list — the discounts focus on booze and snacks, but the selection is plentiful. While you can’t get a half-price burger, you can order spicy wings ($5), chile con queso fires ($4.50), onion rings ($2.50) and rajas con queso ($4.50). The drink selection is really what makes this casual happy hour: select canned beers are $2, bottled beers are $3, craft drafts are $4 and house margaritas are $5. You can also order the $6 Happy Mercado, a dangerous pairing of an Indio beer and a shot of El Jimador reposado tequila. Proceed with caution.