Help me find the right happy hour
I am getting a group together for a happy hour on Friday -- close to downtown would be nice but that of course sometimes leads to crowded, so some ways off the beaten path may be better. Two of us will be able to show up by 5 for table-saving (do we need to be even earlier?), but it's likely others won't be able to join us until ~6 or later.
Here is a list I've developed -- looking for info on which is best for 6-10 people more interested in conversation than loud music and a scene.
Trace at the W
I lived in Austin ~15 years ago and haven't been back, so I don't really know any of these places -- any description to help me decide would be great.
For our other nights in town -- best bets if we are just two people and it's not a Friday?
Trio at the Four Seasons is my go to. They have 2 or 3 big bar tables that seat at least 6. You can get more around there if needed. The prices are fantastic and they have a new menu where all of the food is $5. The drinks are all wine, and it's a small list, but it's a really good list.
Imperia might be a good bet. I don't think I've ever hit their happy hour on a Friday, but I've been several other times with larger groups and the food and drink have always delivered, and it's typically not too loud in there. I'm pretty sure their HH lasts until 7:00 (check me on this, though)...although they are super strict about cutting it off IMMEDIATELY at the appointed time.
Also, Zax might work for you. I don't know that I've ever been there at 5:00 on a Friday, but it doesn't seem like the sort of place that would be crazy then. Their website has their HH menu on it...lasts until 7:00.
What sort of criteria do you have for your other meals for two?
Thanks, Optimista. My other question on meals for two was actually about happy hours as well -- we love great (inventive) cocktails and usually enjoy eating at bars more than table service. Not to mention the pricing aspect of HH....
Although if you care weigh in on best tex-mex (not caring about HH), that would be great!
We love the happy hour at the Roaring Fork - the food specials are great bargains especially - you can split the "big ass burger" that comes loaded with great bacon and cheese and very good fries and get another snack for around 14 bucks and with a few drink specials leave fed for dinner. The house made beef jerky is spectacular - often have to ask for it, but it's free.
Sweethooch - Tex Mex is not my favorite genre, I must admit. I much prefer interior Mex - Polvo's for casual meals, Fonda San Miguel or La Condesa for not-so-casual (La Condesa also has great cocktails).
I typically leave work late, so happy hours are not my area of expertise, unfortunately. However, if you are a cocktail connoisseur, FINO and Peche will probably make you happy - both also have excellent food (not sure about whether they have HHs, though). Lots of folks laud the cocktails at Second Bar & Kitchen, as well, but theirs tend to be a little too old school (i.e., taste too strongly of hard-core booze) for my taste.
I work downtown 'till six, so happy hour is always an issue for me as well. Parkside is the best deal in town. It's awesome and goes till 7, and cheap enough that I usually get a full price drink after 7 anyway. Still a bargain.
La condesa is good, but over by 6 for sure and contained in their very small bar area. It's very cramped.
Paggi house is hit or miss with food and service, but the drinks are good and resonable and the downtown views are very nice.
Manuel's is OK. . .
Not sure about the others for happy hour. . .
Paggi can get very crowded and noisy as they limit the happy hour seating to a few tables/lounge areas.
At Parkside you can sit in the bar area, patio, or regular dining room (unless they are very busy or have a special event). The bar is noisy and crowded, but the other spaces are not that bad.