The 10 Best Bars in Downtown Houston

MKT Bar
MKT Bar | © Ed Schipul/Flickr
Carolina Fragoso

Downtown Houston is a great place to visit after hours, when historic buildings come alive with fun music, delicious food and well-crafted cocktails. Read on to discover the best spots in town.

1. MKT Bar

Bar, American

This bar is tucked away to the side of Phoenicia, a specialty grocery market in the middle of downtown Houston. You can safely assume that everything they use to make cocktails and bar snacks is fresh and always available, and prices are comparatively low. The food menu spans meals from brunch to dinner, and serves them with great flair: those looking for traditional southern food will love the Hill Country sliders, which are basically chicken and waffles served as sliders.

2. The Pastry War

The Pastry War is not exactly a full bar, but a mezcalería; every drink here is based on mezcal made by family owned distilleries in Mexico. It’s so Mexican they even accept pesos. Their tequila selection is the best in Houston, and the bartenders know exactly how to handle the liquor. The setting is also authentic Mexican, with string lights, an elaborate tile bar back splash, eclectic wall décor and a Volkswagen Beetle hull sharing space with the pool table.

310 Main Street, Houston TX 77002 +1 713 226 7770

Mezcal | © Dennis Brekke/Flickr

3. Reserve 101

Bar, Pub Grub

Downtown Houston at Dusk
© Alex/Flickr
Reserve 101 is a whiskey bar that shines for its friendly service. Bartenders take great care in choosing the whiskey that makes it to their bar list and make sure every cocktail is mixed to perfection. They’re also open to chatting about liquor, great at recommending based on your tastes, and a good resource for information on where to go next if it’s your first time in Houston. They make a mean Hemingway and a delicious Old Fashioned, but their signature ingredient is the liquor infused habanero peppers. Join their Whiskey Society to get access to tastings and events.

4. Sunny’s Bar

Bar, Pub Grub

Jell-O shots, test tube shots, and vodka soaked pineapples? This place is definitely a roar. Sunny’s is a fun, laid-back dive bar sort of place that will probably remind you of your college days, but with a better location and better service. It’s a very casual bar with great prices.

5. Public Services Wine and Whiskey

Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, American, Pub Grub

At the same time elegant and relaxed, Public Services strikes the right balance between upscale and unpretentious. The wine and whiskey bar is housed in a historic Houston building that used to be the Cotton Exchange Building, and their appreciation for the city’s history and culture is notable. They are also dedicated to the drinks they serve, so they offer classes on topics that range from appreciation to casking. Drinks are well proportioned, and there is plenty of seating available, which makes this space ideal for both intimate gatherings and large groups. Events can be held in the beautiful space and catered by Oxheart Restaurant.

6. Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Bar, Pub Grub

Flying Saucer Window
© Sean Davis/Flickr
Flying Saucer is a must visit for beer lovers in Houston. Their beer list is impossible to keep track of – visit their online beer menu to narrow down the selection before you head over. Pints are $3 on Monday nights so you don’t have to limit your selection because of a budget, while Tuesday Trivia nights offer a lot of fun in the middle of the week. The food is mostly bar favorites like wings, nachos and bratwurst. For an interesting treat, try the saucer bratzel, a pretzel topped with beer bratwurst, cheese and served with spicy mustard. Drink 200 different beers to get your name on one of the wall plates that cover the space.

7. OKRA Charity Saloon

Bar, Pub Grub

Okra - Charity Bar, Houston
Courtesy of Rosemont Social Club
Looking to drink and donate to a cause? Try OKRA Charity Saloon. With every drink, you get a ballot that you can use to vote on the charity that receives all of the month’s proceeds: they’ve raised over $950,000 for different causes. Past charities have included Dress for Success, which provides job interview clothing to disadvantaged women, the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston OCD and Anxiety Project. The bar itself is gorgeous, with exposed brick walls, a comfortable U shaped bar and stunning iron beams crowning the ceiling – it used to be the Original Casino Saloon, after all.

8. Little Dipper Lounge

Bar, Pub Grub

Little Dipper Lounge is a relaxed neighborhood bar with charm. Pay $2 to roll a dice dice and get a shot from a rotating selection, or take advantage of their $2 Lone Star beers and $4 wine glasses if you’re on a budget.

9. The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar

Bar, Cafe, American

Latte and Beignets
© Kaige/Flickr
The words “cute” and “yum” come to mind when thinking about this cafe-bar. It’s an adorable, well-lit place with breezy wicker furniture, romantic decor and a roomy bar. Brunch is popular, as this establishment serves some of the best beignets and other Louisiana favorites with a lot of Texas flair. The French toast will blow you away, while the salmon latkes are consistently perfect. Patrons love the specialty coffee cocktails like the Familiar Face, which is flavored with orange liquor and chocolate bitters.

10. The Nightingale Room

Bar, Nightclub, American

This place is a happy medium between a bar and a nightclub, with a dance floor, a cozy bar and the best acoustics in the city. Strong drinks and live shows combine to make you move, while the cool eclectic setting makes you relax. It’s really like hanging out in a recording studio. The drink menu is simple: creative shots like the Mexican Razor Blade (tequila, lemon and cayenne) share space with unique cocktails like the Airmail, a concoction made of white rum, lime, champagne and honey. A good selection of local beers and wines is available too.

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