Sometimes I think Austin is a city that’s fueled by the ever-so-popular concept happy hour. It’s what keeps us going through the work day when we have it to look forward to, it’s what we do to wind down from a busy day, it’s a meeting avenue for social connections and business convos, and there’s no doubt it keeps the bar and restaurant scene thriving during what-would-be slow traffic weekdays.
Other than the common uses for happy hour mentioned above, I’d like to offer another way to use these sacredly held evening hours. There are a few local Austin restaurants that are “special occasion” destinations for many of us. They’re a treat, and aren’t frequented either because of price point, ambiance, or gourmet -ness, though I will say the lines tend to be blurred in Austin and special occasion dining isn’t only saved for special occasions since our city is culinarily curious.
For those of us who save our spending and fancy food intake for special occasions, events like semi-annual Austin Restaurant Week are designed to help us get a taste of these delicious hot spots at an affordable price. But, what to do during the rest of the year when you want a less-pressure and more accessible gourmet dining experience at the places you’ve always wanted to try? Enter what I will from here on call “Fancy Hour”. Happy hour at fancier restaurants are a great way to get your foot in the door with these special dining spots.
Recently, I was invited to happy hour at Austin restaurant institution, Jeffrey’s with local slim-fit men’s shirt designer, David. I was excited because I just never had the right time, occasion, or company to go there. But, the bar was adorable, the drinks and happy hour menu were half-price and delicious, so I got an affordable taste in a more casual setting. Other special occasion restaurants that offer happy hour specials if you don’t want the full sit-down dining experience but want the food, drink, and experience include:
- El Arbol(Treetop Patio Menu, all night, every night)
- Jeffrey’s (Bar Menu, Sun-Fri 5-7 pm, Sat 9-11 pm)
- La Condesa (must sit in the bar to the right of the entrance to enjoy the specials, but they are awesome!),
- Uchi (Sake Socials, 5-6:30 pm daily)
- Uchiko (Sake Socials, 5-6:30 pm daily)
Also on my radar for very reasonably priced menu treats (appetizers and drinks) even after the sun goes down include Mueller’s new non-downtown Texas-y treat, Contigo Austin (bar snacks $3-4, small plates $6-8, inventive cocktails $6-9, wine starting at $5, beer at $3) and 2nd Bar + Kitchen (all apps $5-8, except for cheese/charcuterie plates).
What “fancy hour” spots have I missed? Share your favorite spots to try extra tasty treats at special rates during special hours.
Here’s to a fancy summer, without the upscale pricing!