Take advantage of some of the city’s best dining deals at happy hour. Some restaurants start as early as 2:30 p.m., and some happy hours stretch to 7 p.m. No matter what the hour, you will find drink specials and value-pricing on shareable plates.
Here are some spots to consider. (All times are Monday-Friday unless otherwise noted. Happy-hour specials change frequently, so if your heart is set on $1.95 onion rings, call before you visit.)
Galleria/Post Oak/Uptown Park
Truluck's: Happy hour is 4:30-6:30 p.m. at this coolly sleek steakhouse, and it draws a large, diverse cast of regulars. Specials include half-price cocktails, half-price bar bites and 25 percent off all bottles of wine. On a recent happy-hour visit, we enjoyed three rich crab cake sliders for $9 and a budget-friendly $5 glass of sparkling wine.
5350 Westheimer, 713-783-7270
Willie G's: You have your choice of two bars (as well as a patio) at this upscale steak and seafood spot. Happy hour is 3-7 p.m., and deals include $2.95 drafts, $3.95 wells and $4.95 house wines. Bar bites include a half-dozen raw oysters or boiled shrimp for $3.95, onion strings for $1.95, buffalo crawfish tails for $4.95 and sliders (including a choice of chicken, pork or beef) for $5.95.
1605 Post Oak, 713-840-7190
Benjy's: The second-floor lounge is an immensely popular happy-hour spot. Luckily, it’s a long one: 4-7 p.m. The deals include $6 signature cocktails (make mine a mojito) and martinis and $5 wines by the glass. Appetizers are $6, including a pistachio-crusted goat cheese cake, pork potstickers and flat-bread pizzas.
2424 Dunstan, 713-522-7602
Trevisio: This crisp dining room on the sixth floor of the Commons in the Medical Center is a breeze to access, even when happy hour and rush hour coincide. Happy hour is 4-7 p.m. and includes a value-priced appetizer menu. Among its offerings: garlic-Parmesan chicken wings are $6, meatballs with garlic bread are $6 and a Margherita pizza is $6. Drink specials include special pricing on Texas wines by the glass.
6550 Bertner, 713-749-0400
Upper Kirby/River Oaks
The Bird & The Bear: This may be one of the most feminine restaurants in town (and we mean that in a good way). That makes it the perfect post-shopping stop. That and the generous happy hour, which runs 2:30-5:30 p.m. every day. The HH menu offers more than a dozen small plates, including a cheese plate for two at $10, short-rib tacos for $8 and a grilled Gruyere cheese sandwich for $8. Beers are $3, wine by the glass starts at $4, and specialty cocktails are $6. Love, love, love the Watermelon Basil Lemonade.
2810 Westheimer, 713-528-2473
Samurai: This popular Japanese steakhouse offers happy hour 5-7 p.m. In keeping with its encyclopedic menu, the happy-hour menu is expansive, too. Among the highlights are $2 beers and $4 house wines. HH sushi rolls start at $2, and appetizers include $3 veggie tempura, $3 shrimp tempura and $2.50 crab puffs. A menu of single pieces (with prices starting at $1) makes Samurai a terrific spot for the sushi novices.
5317 Bissonnet, 713-432-1858
Union Kitchen: We’re fans of the patio of this Bellaire spot, where happy hour is celebrated 3-6 p.m. (And that’s a good thing because the bar is small.) Specials include $3 drafts and $5 sangria. For a nibble, try the massive onion rings for $3.95; $2.95 house-made chips topped with bacon, cheddar and blue cheese; and $5 pizzas.
4057 Bellaire Blvd., 713-661-0025
Liberty Kitchen: One of our favorite restaurant bars marks happy hour 2:30-6 p.m. We like the views into the open kitchen and the friendly banter of the staff. Specials include $3.50 for select drafts, $4 wells and $5 house wines (some are very good), as well as $6.50 specialty cocktails. My favorite afternoon/happy-hour snack is a bowl of gumbo. It’s the color of dark chocolate, as rich as Bill Gates and topped with golden fried oysters. Oh, my goodness, it’s good.
1050 Studewood, 713-802-0533