Happy Hour in Austin

Happy Hour Austin

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As the "live music capital of the world" and the home of the annual South by Southwest Festival, Austin is a city that revels in its bar scene and the happy hours that come with it. Here is a list of contenders for the title of best happy hour in Austin, with establishments ranging from a swank hotel bar to the best of the local bars off Sixth Street.

5PM-8PM Friday and Saturday
407 E. 7th Street (between Trinity and Neches)
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 236-0008

Best deal: Lone Star beer with a shot of Jagermeister (aka the "Happy Meal") for $5

Those looking for a laid-back start to a wild weekend night on Sixth Street will meet their match at Mugshots, where you can dance to an eclectic mix of jukebox tunes ranging from Willie Nelson to Radiohead while you enjoy a Happy Meal. No, McDonald's isn't among this one-of-a-kind bar's many partners and affiliates. The Happy Meal is their signature cocktail of Lone Star beer and a shot of Jagermeister, on special during happy hour for $5. Or even better, super-size it and get a pitcher of Lone Star and two shots of Jager (best enjoyed with a buddy or friendly stranger, which you'll find no shortage of). As for the actual food, the happy hour menu offers $2 cheeseburgers and $3 Boca burgers with chips. Other happy hour specials here include $2.50 wells and $2.50 domestic beers. Miraculously, this local bar, whose building dates back to the 19th century, never seems to get overcrowded. Service is always speedy, yet the servers and bartenders manage to stay friendly. It's also a nice respite from the often overwhelming hordes of college coeds down the street.

5PM-7PM Monday through Saturday
Four Seasons Hotel
98 San Jacinto Boulevard
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 685-8300

Best deal: $3.50 mac-and-cheese and steak fries

This Four Seasons Hotel is the ultimate in elegant yet comfortable, fancy yet friendly dining. Served six evenings a week, its happy hour menu includes half-price wine and appetizers. Unlike many sophisticated, chef-run restaurants, Trio hasn't a hint of snobbery. The servers and bartenders offer the warm, indiscriminately kind hospitality I hope outsiders get from Texas and Austin in general. The complex taste of truffles laces two favorite appetizers: the mac-and-cheese and the steak fries, each priced at only $3.50 during happy hour. The $7.50 Texas Cheese Plate has just the right amount of flavor, and the wine list and service parallel the classiness of the food. Happy hour prices at this restaurant turned bar range from $4.50 to $9 a glass, and everyone who works there is eager to help novices sort through the extensive list, which is hand selected by an in-house sommelier. You can usually try before you buy, even if you're just getting a glass!

Tap Room at Six Lounge
4PM-9PM Tuesday through Friday
311 Colorado Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 472-6662

Best deal: $2-3 drafts of local Hill Country beers

The Tap Room feels like your buddy's basement with a full bar, a few friendly strangers and a lot more entertainment options. Plop down in a plush chair or sofa and order a half-price pizza from the happy hour menu. Challenge someone to darts, pool or shuffleboard-- all free. Chat up the bartenders, who are the closest I've seen to those open-ear, advice-giving characters you see in the movies. With $2-3 drafts (depending on the brew and night of the week) and $3 wells until 9PM, it's also a cheap, relaxed and convenient local bar to hit before heading out for a night of shenanigans on Sixth Street. These aren't Bud Lights, either. We're talking Real Ale, Independence and Live Oak, all the pride of Austin and the Hill Country.

The Jackalope
11:30AM- 7PM daily
404 E. 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 469-5801

Best deal: Two burgers for the price of one on Wednesdays

This kitschy joint has the greasy vibe many may want to avoid (for others it's that perfect local dive they've been looking for), but I'm not aware of any other place in Austin that kicks off happy hour in time for you to enjoy $2-2.50 wells, domestics, imports, microbrews and calls with lunch any day of the week. If you want a delicious deal on that lunch, Wednesday features two burgers for the price of one, and these are no sliders! Bring a friend or to-go box, because two burgers equal about one pound of beef. The burger list has a distinctively southwestern feel (except the Caesar burger) and a little something for everyone, even vegetarians, who can substitute a black bean veggie patty on any burger (though you'll have to ask them to hold the pork, chili, taco meat or bacon on most of them). The old school waffle fries (also available as cheese and chili-topped nachos) are an ideal bar snack. In addition to the regular happy hour specials, there's Late Night Ladies Happy Hour at 11PM nightly; happy hour all day on Mondays; Half-Price Whole Pizza Night on Tuesdays, and $2 Pint Night on Thursdays. Don't expect good service, though. You won't find it here, but the quality of the food and the price break on drinks make it a bargain.

219 West
All night Monday, 5PM-9PM weekdays, 5PM-8PM Saturdays
219 W. 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 474-2194

Another pick for the best happy hour in Austin is this gastro pub, where you can find half-price appetizers sorted into six menus based on your drink of choice – wine, beer, tequila, scotch, mint juleps or martinis. Since this is the sort of place where they apparently spent a lot more time constructing the food menu than the drink menu, I'd recommend sticking to beer. Premium draft beer is $4, and there's a small selection of hometown favorites from Independence and Real Ale. If you haven't tried Austin Amber and Fireman's Four yet, you need to. They go great with the Spicy Cheese Tater Tots. If you're looking for a cocktail, the martinis are $5-8 during happy hour. None of them really knock your socks off (too sugary), but some of the food suggested to accompany them does, like the Spinach and Artichoke Quesadilla or the Shallot Fries, which are paired with the scotch menu but hold their own with anything. The scene is classy, crowded and quite loud, so if you're looking for ambiance or conversation, show up before 7PM. And if you're showing up after, call ahead.

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