Day drinking is an art — and a joy — of its own. At its best, it’s an occasional escape from an ordinary day — or a chance to celebrate with friends. A hectic work week, a dragging day or an impromptu get together can all call for a daytime drink.
Day drinking is a uniquely different excursion as compared to its counterpart, the evening outing. It often means happy hours, smaller crowds and soaking in a beautiful day outdoors. The tradition has evolved since the Mad Men days when a three martini lunch was way more than a legend for many businessmen.
Now, it’s hopefully a little more controlled, festive and joyful — reserved for special instances rather than an everyday thing.
Luckily, Houston has no shortage of restaurants and bars that open early for day drinking. Some of the city’s best oases for those in search of a drink while the sun is still up have beautiful patios, garden retreats, rooftop perches and happy hour specials galore.
These are the Best Spots to Day Drink in Houston:
1. Woodshed Smokehouse Houston
In the heart of Levy Park, with a sprawling patio and an open air indoors section, Tim Love’s North Texas import has immediately become one of Houston’s best day drinking escapes. Woodshed’s barbecue will not conjure up any visions of Texas’ best, but this park spot’s atmosphere cannot be beat.
Woodshed gets extra points for its extremely friendly waitstaff, too.
In the shadow of Downtown Houston, you’ll find a 100-year-old renovated building that has been beautifully restored and turned into an artsy bar. The art-inspired building brings beer from specially-made taps, cool cocktails and wine.
Order your daytime beverage of choice and head out to Axelrad’s outside dog-friendly garden. It’s full of picnic tables. You can listen to live music or just soak in the fun backyard ambiance.
With both a front and back patio nestled in a renovated River Oaks home, Backstreet Cafe’s cozy space offers a relaxing midday reprieve. The New Orleans inspired back patio is shaded, even if its beloved Camphor tree had to come down.
This is especially true during Backstreet Cafe’s happy hour which goes from 3 pm until 6:30 pm Mondays through Fridays.
Batanga is known for having one of the biggest patios in Houston. At 3,600 square feet, there’s plenty of space for a midday meet up at this downtown staple. The Latin American tapas restaurant’s happy hour runs from 4 pm until 7 pm weekdays and on Sundays, it’s half off all wine bottles.
This brick patio can be quite the scene. And who wouldn’t enjoy a cool drink under colorful umbrellas?
This eclectic bar has fun cocktails with eye-catching names (see drinks like Elon’s Husks) and happy hour every day until 5 pm with all booze half off until that 5’o’clock deadline. That’s correct, all alcohol on the premise is half off until 5 pm. This includes beer, wine and cocktails.
Since Houston’s weather is notoriously turbulent, Better Luck Tomorrow also has weather specials, where if it’s colder than 40 degrees, Irish Coffees are half off, Rain means hurricanes are half off and temperatures above 95 degrees means highballs are half off. So highballs are half off almost all summer.
Beautiful views and an extensive drink menu come with a daytime drinking expedition to Brenner’s On The Bayou. Lookout over lush greenery and even a waterfall while sipping on libations from either the two-story dining room or from the decks of Blue Bar.
Blue Bar is a modern patio that sits high among the bayou’s trees and offers a full drinks menu, small plates and happy hour every Monday through Friday from 4 pm until 7 pm.
This colorful three-story brewery and restaurant boasts a spacious rooftop patio with great views of downtown Houston and freshly in-house brewed beer. Buffalo Bayou is open from 11 am until midnight seven days a week (during normal non-emergency times).
The artsy brewery has a wide selection of brews, but if beer isn’t your thing, Buffalo Bayou also has a wine list, mimosa and micheladas.
With a sprawling covered patio and picnic tables out on the grounds, most of Cottonwood’s seating is outdoors. Cottonwood has a rotating beer list and a full bar with an extensive whiskey and tequila menu.
The Heights bar’s grounds are pet friendly and have fire pits, perfect for gathering around on chillier days.
With not one, but two happy hours, Eight Row Flint in The Heights has both early and afternoon day drinking excursions covered. Early happy hour happens every day from 11 am until 2 pm with a combo of a fresh plate and cocktail for only $15 total. Eight Row Flint’s mid happy hour is on Mondays through Fridays from 2 pm until 6 pm with margaritas and mules on the menu for $6.50.
Eight Row Flint’s modern patio is a climate controlled space in the heart of The Heights neighborhood.
Karbach’s huge Biergarten is a fun space to enjoy a refreshing brew and listen to live music on its big stage. The modern restaurant and Biergarten opens at 11 am on Saturdays and Sundays and 3 pm the rest of the week.
The brewery’s restaurant tries to pair its pub food with the beer that’s produced on site.
Housed in a historic building in the middle of bustling downtown Houston, La Carafe’s two-story space has an old world ambiance. Originally built in 1847, the small well hidden building now serves as a wine bar.
There’s a small patio outside and candle-lit tables and chairs inside. What’s believed to be the oldest bar in Houston opens at 1 pm and is conveniently just steps away from downtown’s modern skyscrapers.
Located in the eclectic boutique hotel, Hotel Zaza in the Museum District, Monarch Restaurant & Terrace is open for lunch Fridays through Sundays and for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. The rest of the week, the restaurant opens at 4 pm and has a menu of unique cocktails, much in tune with the eccentric hotel it calls home.
The full menu bar can be enjoyed out on Monarch’s brightly lit covered terrace.
With two locations, one in The Heights and the other in Montrose, Postino’s extensive wine menu is available starting at 9 am every weekend and 11 am during the week. During happy hour, select glasses of wine and beer are only $5 until 5 pm everyday.
The cool and cozy cafe’s menu houses a wide array of bruschettas for snacking on while enjoying your favorite bottle.
Tucked under an array of greenery, Secret Garden Houston served brews and cocktails out of a modern greenhouse. Part of Bravery Chef Hall, Secret Garden opens at 11 am on Saturdays and Sundays and 4 pm the rest of the week. Both a coffee and cocktail bar, Secret Garden’s flowery and cheerful patio offers a unique lush ambiance that’s hard to find downtown.
Take in the views of Discovery Green at The Grove and sip on a drink from its extensive beer, wine and spirits menu. The Grove even boasts a small list of allocated and rare liquors such as Macallan 25 year for an indulgent day at the park.
If you’re looking for a more casual day out, The Grove’s Happy Hour runs from 1 pm until 5 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays with all beer, specialty cocktails and house wines half off.
This Midtown area two-story brick-clad industrial building’s rooftop patio makes for a fun space for a drink while the sun is still up. With views of the downtown skyline, the rooftop bar is only one of The Dogwood’s outdoor seating options. There are also patios on the first floor.
The Dogwood focuses on Southern hospitality and outdoor entertaining with Southern-inspired drinks like Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka on tap.
Open for both lunch and dinner, this lush garden restaurant’s airy patio allows you to soak up the sun with a refreshing cocktail in hand. With a full bar menu, a veteran day drinker can choose between beer, wine, or a freshly made classic cocktail.
Tiny Boxwood’s patio is a great option for grabbing a midday glass of wine or an Old Fashioned. The River Oaks cafe also offers a small but mighty food menu.
Houston’s “Adult Playground” has fun outdoor seating options (think colorful picnic tables, swings and hammocks), outdoor games and even a real working carousel. For a brunch outing, the Bucket-o-Mosas has everything you need for a mimosa in a bucket including a bottle of champagne.
Opening at noon on the weekends, and 2 pm on the weekdays, find a table under an umbrella and order from Truck Yard’s full bar menu and grab some bar snacks from its rotation of food trucks.