Sure, the River Walk is dotted with all manner of tourist traps, from the animatronic nightmare that is the Rainforest Cafe to the amateur insult comics showcase at Dick’s Last Resort.
Still, that doesn’t mean that locals should avoid it altogether. Scattered about are plenty of spots that offer legitimately great food, innovative cocktails, and most importantly, happy hour deals worth diving into.
One of Houston Street’s most festive bars, this poppy spot at Acenar restaurant bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary with mosaic tile work and Space Age bar stools. The daily happy hour between 3-6 pm gives locals plenty of time to soak it up while sipping on $2 domestic beers, $4 wells, $5 red or white wine, and $5 cocktails like the punchy Mexican Martini. Appetizers include chili seasoned calamari, beef alambres, and queso with chorizo — all for $5. On Tuesdays, the deals get even better with a trio of tacos for $2 and an extra hour of happy hour fun.
Though not directly on the banks of the river, this pan-Latin restaurant is just a short walk (or scooter ride, if you feel like living dangerously) away. The pillars of the happy hour are fairly basic — $3 domestic beer and $3.50 well drinks — but it also has an ace up its sleeves. Classic tropical sippers like pisco sours, caipirinhas, and mojitos are also $3.50. And a much better pairing with the spicy tuna aguachile.
This straightforward watering hole has one of the longest happy hours in town, offering a blissful seven hours between 2-9 pm daily. The offerings, while not fancy, get the job done with $4 Jack Daniels and Crown flavors; $2.50 domestic bottles, Bud Light drafts, and wells; and $3 Dos XX, Modelo, and Shiner Bock drafts. As the name hints, the joint is definitely not a restaurant, so save a few singles for some post-shots tacos.
The Esquire Tavern
Three is the magic number at this graceful River Walk bar, which offers a weekday happy hour from 3-7 pm. The $3 snacks include jalapeños rellenitos, green eggs and ham nachos, deviled eggs, tacos con papas, and shrimp toast. Guests also receive a $3 discount on all menu cocktails and wines by the glass. Texas draft beers are discounted by a dollar, so order a trio to make sure everything adds up.
With a psychedelic Mayan-inspired theme, this relative newcomer is one of the most unique spots on the River Walk. The happy hour is also one-of-a-kind, kicking off a little later than most spots so San Antonians can avoid the after-work rush. On Sunday through Thursday 7-10 pm and Friday and Saturday 6-9 pm, guests can excavate a variety of deals, including $5 wells, $3-$4 beers, $7 wines, and $5-$7 cocktails. The gin based Fountain of Youth, shaken with tropical syrups, is highly recommended.
This upscale chophouse from celebrity chef Jason Dady is a favorite of conventioneers with expense accounts, but the daily happy hour hardly requires a corporate card. From 3-6 pm and one hour before closing time, Range offers select wines for $5, El Jimador margaritas and house Prosecco for $6, and a quartet of classic cocktails for $9. Snacks like white cheddar jalapeño hushpuppies and frites with truffle oil are priced between $5-$6, so order the whole menu. Or splurge with the luxe 44 Farms cheeseburger for $14.
Maybe it's not a happy hour by name, but the early bird special at this acclaimed restaurant is reason to duck out of work early. On Tuesday through Thursday, guests who are seated between 5:30-6:30 pm receive a whopping $20 discount per person on the five- or seven-course tasting menu. There is one caveat, however; the complete party has to be seated before the cut-off time. Maybe don’t invite those perpetually late friends.