Where to Eat
Where to eat in Austin right now: 12 hot happy hours for every day of the week
With the flurry of new restaurant openings this year, even the most savvy diners have a long list of restaurants they have yet to visit. When making plans for fall and winter drinks with friends, it helps to have a cheat sheet of the latest and greatest discounts offered by some of Austin's newer (and classic) establishments.
We've combed through more than 50 happy hours this month to find a dozen you can enjoy for dinner, cocktails, wine, or snacks all week long. Read on to find one that's just right for your next outing.
A new addition to Lamar Union, Cantine comes from the team behind longtime favorite Asti Trattoria. You can sample the Italian and Mediterranean flavors here with discounts from 4 to 6 pm Monday through Friday. There’s $5 sangria; $2 off cocktails, wine, and beer; and a discounted menu of snacks including $6 fried calamari and $8 pork pinchitos.
On weekdays from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, an a la carte house menu is available at Barley Swine’s bar. Choices ranges from $11 Southern-fried chicken with pickles and $6 duck wings with fermented shiitake to lighter fare like $4 blistered shishito peppers and $5 cured squash with goat feta. Complementing the small plates are $7 wines by the glass, $3 featured beers, and half-price beer bombers.
Trey Jenkins has caught the attention of Austin cocktail fans with his complex Tiki creations at Isla. On Monday and Tuesday, $6 cocktails are available all evening. Choices include the Ankle Roller (dark rum, cherry liqueur, lemon, orgeat, Angostura bitters) and the Kanaloa’s Pearl (spiced rum, Creole shrub, lime, Coco #7, black rum float). Tropical snacks are also available at 25-percent off during happy hour.
The Roosevelt Room
A quiet favorite of local cocktail enthusiasts, The Roosevelt Room is a great value on Tuesday evenings. The all-night happy hour gives patrons $2 discounts on wine and $1 off beer, but the main attraction is a selection of $6 cocktails. A rotating selection currently includes the Palma Fizz (vodka, ginger beer, lime, rose water, soda) and El Diablo (reposado tequila, lime juice, creme de cassis, ginger beer).
Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile
The bar at Jacoby’s is always bustling, but from 5 to 7 pm Tuesday through Thursday you can find some great deals. To start, there’s the classic Live Oak Hefeweizen for just $3, two featured $5 wines, and a $7 Melvin Mule (Ancho Reyes, lime, ginger beer). Snacks are also in the mix: $5 fried pickles, $10 shrimp cocktail, three pimento sliders for $10, and a $5 meatball plate.
Sala & Betty
From 3 to 6 pm on weekdays, bargain sandwiches are the thing at Sala & Betty, an Airport Boulevard concept from the team behind the departed Aquarelle. The selection includes the Mister T (wagyu sirloin, avocado aioli, mixed greens, blue cheese sauce); a shrimp po’boy; and The Betty (roasted pork, smoked tomato aioli, mixed greens, green chili queso). The discounted sandwiches can be paired with $1 off all beer and wine. A separate reverse happy hour after 8 pm gives diners 50-percent off all bottles of wine.
By all accounts, Gardner’s first year has proven to be a success. Andrew Wiseheart’s ode to vegetable-focused cooking has landed great reviews and a coveted mention on Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants 2015. To help budget-conscious diners sample the atmosphere and cooking, a Monday through Saturday 5:30 to 7 pm happy hour in the bar and patio areas showcases some fantastic drinks. Wine lovers will flip over bottle pricing, which is essentially discounted to what you’d pay at retail. Oregon’s top flight Teutonic rosé is a steal at $25 per bottle, as is Simonet sparkling Blanc de Blanc from Alsace at just $15 per bottle. You can pair these with snacks like $5 crispy sweet potatoes, $4 grilled ciabatta with oyster mushrooms, and a $6 bar burger with fries.
For a solid downtown drink, The Townsend’s "cocktail hour" serves up top flight drinks for $7 from 4 to 7 pm daily. Recent selections include a Wild Turkey 101 Rye Old Fashioned, a Ford’s Gin martini, and a classic Tom Collins. Tea sandwiches are also available for $5 during the happy hour.
Despite all the offerings on Manor Road these days, Unit-D has proven to be an instant standout. On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday there’s a happy hour at the restaurant from 5 to 6:30 pm focused on affordable but curated drinks. Diners have the choice of $1 discounts on draft beer, a selected bottle of wine at 50-percent off, or $5 wines by the glass. There’s also $2 wood-fired olives and a $5 antipasti plate with Marcona almonds, anchovy-stuffed olives, and Sweety Drop peppers.
Juniper has just arrived on the scene in East Austin but has already debuted a Tuesday through Saturday happy hour that runs from 4 to 6 pm. A generous sampling of small plates includes $7 skewers of wagyu rib-eye cap with salsa verde, $6 puffy potatoes with parmesan and whipped Dijon, and $9 San Daniele ham with figs and honey vinegar. Half-price beers and sparkling wines can be paired with the plates, as can a rotating happy hour cocktail.
After a successful first year, the team at Fixe has added a “daily social” to the bar area. From 4 to 7 pm daily, there’s a $1 discount on all drinks. The find here, though, is the delightful and hearty menu of bar snacks. Chief among them is the Southern Fish Fry, a cornmeal-fried catfish with hand-cut fries and a house-made tartar sauce. The restaurant’s signature smoked trout dip is another winner, made with horseradish and buttermilk accompanied by Carolina Gold Rice crackers. Fixe’s tasty sweet tea pickles and homemade biscuits are also must-tries, and all food items are $9 and under.
In a town full of solid happy hours, there may not be a single offering as versatile or robust as The Hightower’s. From 5 to 7 pm daily, and Sunday from 5 pm to close, there's bargain pricing on 10 small plates and six cocktails, offering something for all palates and diets. Snackers can order fried chickpeas with orange aioli for $3.50 or queso fundido with pork sausage and wonton for $8, while those looking for more substantial plates can opt for $7 mahi-mahi ceviche or $6 chicken liver pâté with quince jam and crostini. There’s also an ever-popular $4 frozen caipirinha here for just $4 and a Paloma for $5. House wines and craft draft beers for $4 seal the deal: This is a happy hour all your friends will thank you for.