The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Happy Hour Menus

Cornmeal-crusted Gulf oysters on spring greens at our No. 2 pick.
Cornmeal-crusted Gulf oysters on spring greens at our No. 2 pick.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

I look for a lot of different factors in a truly great happy hour.

Obviously, the food and beverage prices have to be inexpensive, or at least discounted from their standard cost. But the food and beverages themselves have to be noteworthy to stand out from all the hundreds of happy hours around Houston.

Just as importantly, the restaurants themselves need to have an appropriately "happy" hour vibe. There's nothing worse than dragging your co-workers or friends to a happy hour where no one's at the bar, the service is surly and none of the patrons seem very happy at all.

10. Oishii

How long has Oishii had one of the best happy hours in town? I feel like quoting a Dan Fogelberg song: "Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean..." This is an oldie but goodie, a Houston classic that must be experienced at least once. The little Japanese restaurant is consistently packed at happy hour, and the half-off appetizers and beer are only part of the reason -- it's just a fun place to be.

Happy Hours: 3 to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays; 3 to 6 p.m. Saturdays

9. Vinoteca Poscol

At the most casual of Marco Wiles' trio of Montrose restaurants, you can almost pretend that you're at a European cafe as you sample $1 cicchetti and $2 glasses of wine from the cool marble bar. Those $2 glasses don't get you a full pour, but Poscol does offer a good selection during happy hour of a house red, white, Prosecco and/or sparkling red. And the cicchetti may only be bite-sized, but there's always a nice variety to choose from. You don't want to spoil your dinner anyway, do you?

Happy Hours: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays

Happy hour sushi that actually tastes like the stuff you'd pay full price for.
Happy hour sushi that actually tastes like the stuff you'd pay full price for.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

8. The Blue Fish

Plenty of sushi places offer happy hour specials. But at The Blue Fish -- yes, the one from Dallas -- the happy hour specials include a broad cross-section of the main menu. It's refreshingly non-restrictive, and most of it's incredibly inexpensive too: $2 for Kirin on draft or house sake (hot or cold) or your choice of yellowtail, salmon or albacore sushi. For $3, you can sample a miniature version of The Blue Fish's famous ahi tower and for $4, you can get a glass of house wine and choose from a huge variety of hand rolls.

Happy Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (at downtown location); 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily (at Washington Avenue location)

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