What Makes a Good Happy Hour?

At the end of a long work week, it’s common to want to get out, relax, and enjoy the amazing nightlife Austin has to offer. For so many of us, that means finding a local restaurant or bar to indulge in some happy hour fun. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as walking over to the nearest restaurant and settling in to drink and chat. We admit, that might sound like a nonsensical statement. After all, how hard can it be to offer a couple of drink specials and a deal on an appetizer or two? But, anyone who’s had a poor experience knows: not all happy hours are created equal! What most may not know is where the difference lies. The dividing line between a great happy hour and a shoddy one is a fairly thin one, so what are the delineators between great and awful?


Drink Specials

First and foremost, those looking for a good happy hour are probably looking for an adults-only libation or two. That doesn’t mean, however, that a cooler full of cheap beers will be enough. Let’s face it, most of us can do that in our backyards. When searching for happy hour locations, most want options with a bit more pizazz. If you’re looking to please your happy hour group, find a restaurant that offers more than a basic beer; instead, look for specials that include a variety of cocktails and draft beers, not just a single drink option. The idea is to relax and enjoy with your group, so a happy hour location with a variety of drink specials will more readily appeal to a larger crowd. The other thing to consider is how the drinks are charged. A pitcher of margaritas or a bottle of wine may sound like a good deal, but if no one has cash, splitting the check can be a hassle—and no one wants to be stuck with the bill for the group. Be sure to consider the drink specials in light of what you know about your group.


Don’t Forget Food Deals

Once the workday is over and everyone has a drink in hand, it’s a lot easier to unwind and let go of the stresses of the day. By the time happy hour rolls around, though, lunch has long since passed, so food options are almost as important as the drinks. However, happy hour isn’t usually the right time for full, heavy entrees. Think of it a bit like throwing a party; the best happy hour food specials are usually those that can be eaten without utensils and can be shared among the group easily. Chips and a variety of dips, nachos, flatbreads, and soft pretzels are all great options because they are easy to eat one-handed, filling, and shareable.


What defines great atmosphere will vary somewhat from person to person, but most will agree that atmosphere is important for a good happy hour. More often than not, this means somewhere comfortable, familiar, and welcoming. You’ll want to consider whether your potential happy hour spot has enough seating for your group to all sit together. In smaller cafes with only two- and four-person tables, they may not be as accommodating for a group of twenty. The flip side of this, of course, is acoustics. In restaurants and bars that are likely to fill up, will it eventually grow too loud to hear the person next to you? In this sense, a live band can be great in concept, but those who need to rehash the week to let it slough off may find this sort of atmosphere puts a damper on their happy hour experience. Again, it depends on the location and your group’s needs. A perk, though not a necessity, when it comes to happy hour spots, is an outdoor seating area. A more open space, like a patio, can make it easier for your group to mingle together without shouting down a table, so it’s worthwhile to consider, especially for larger groups.


At Maudie’s Tex-Mex, we want you to be able to kick back, relax, and enjoy your evening. Join us at one of our several Austin locations to enjoy a margarita or two, chips and a variety of different dip options to share, and a restaurant that will help you feel at home. Have a large group? Contact the team at the location near you for reservations.

Back to News & Events