The one thing that unites all of the best bars in Houston, Texas is that they have a special character, just like the city itself. Houston’s history and cultural makeup prime it to be one of the best cities for experiencing the local lifestyle. Here are the ten bars that represent the city best.
Housed in Houston’s oldest commercial building, La Carafe is one of the city’s oldest bars. This wine and beer only bar offers an intimate environment lit mainly by candles and sprinkled with interesting touches like a vintage cash register and a jukebox. Portraits on the wall add a sense of mystery and heritage to the space. The upstairs balcony is excellent for those seeking a tranquil place to drink and converse on warm nights. The wine and beer list is comprehensive, and the friendly bartenders add to the southern charm that characterizes the city.
With a name that’s a twist on physicist Neil Bohr’s name, it’s not hard to imagine the theme of this bar. Neil’s Bahr is at the same time an arcade and a dive bar with an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re hanging out at a friend’s house back in 1996. Televisions are constantly playing The Simpsons and sci-fi classics, while a comic book wall, a ping pong table and a selection of board games offer other entertainment. Don’t miss their themed cocktails, like the Pikachu, or Pablo the Patio Chef’s delicious burgers and tacos.
Bar, Pub, American, Irish, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, $$$
If you’re looking for a traditional Irish Pub with a great beer pour, Pimlico is the place to go. Locals rave about the service, and rightfully so as bartenders are always friendly and open to chat if they’re not too busy. The menu is as Irish as they come, serving dishes made from seasonal produce. During St Patrick’s Day week they serve up an Irish Stew. There is a sense of community around the bar, which hosts trivia nights, ladies’ nights and a running club that meets on Mondays. The inside is spacious, and the wooden bar is beautiful, while the outside patio is dog friendly, they even have free dog treats and water.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Wine Bar, American, Beer, Cocktails, Wine, $$$
For a true taste of the south, try Julep on Washington Street. The space is stunning, with gorgeous wrought iron furniture that feels like you’re relaxing on a veranda during a hot southern summer. The drink selection is classic and bourbon focused, with striking presentation thanks to owner Alba Huerta, a Houston native with more than 15 years of experience in bartending. While the mint julep is a solid drink choice, try the morning call for an even breezier feel: it’s made with tequila, mescal, and lime and hibiscus tonic. Anchovy stuffed fried olives and $2 oysters seal the deal.
Looking to emulate Old World enotecas(Italian wine shops), 13 Celsius takes great measures to protect the integrity of their wine choices, making sure guests have the best wine tasting experience possible. The same care is extended to the food, which is elegantly presented. Tasty paninis, decadent desserts and hearty charcuterie plates are available, as is a wide selection of cheeses from all over the world. The s’mores plate, complete with its own personal fire, is a fun order for groups. Wines are served by the bottle, glass, half glass and taste, and on Sundays 13 Celsius features a list of half-priced wines and beers by the bottle.
Inspired in the cultural exchange between India and the United Kingdom, The Queen Vic has an assorted menu of classic foods from both countries. Curry, sausage, and lamb dishes feature here. The space is elegant and regal, with a modern bar area. Cocktails are handcrafted and creative, and servers are knowledgeable about their wine and beer lists. They are accommodating with groups for parties and dinners.
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A rum and tiki bar in the middle of Houston shows exactly what kind of juxtaposition the city is about. At Lei Low, the atmosphere is crazy fun, like a beach luau during vacation. Bartenders are as entertaining and passionate about tiki culture as they are agreeable. Locals go for the mai tai and stay for the music as the bar hosts local bands and vinyl nights where you can bring your records to play on their turntable. Try the shark’s tooth for a refreshing passion fruit taste while you lounge in the outside patio.
Boheme is located in a restored Montrose building with vast gardens full of art pieces to explore. The inside wraparound bar is cozy and intimate, but relaxed, this is a place you can visit over and over again and never get bored. The Vietnamese fries and truffle mushroom lavash pizza are highly recommended, as is their vegan option, Adrienne’s Vegan. The bar is mainly dedicated to wine, with many delicious varieties to choose from, but they also have classic cocktails. For the full Boheme experience, order the frozen mojito locals love.
This bar displays the largest collections of Tiffany lamps you may ever see. They adorn the tables and hang from the ceiling, complementing the subtle curves of other art nouveau pieces and giving the space a groovy air that is perfect for pictures. There’s ample space at the bar, and the owners are very accommodating with events, making it a popular location for weddings. Although it is ornate, the place never feels overly crowded, and music is kept at a comfortable volume. The bar serves up classic cocktails and a well rounded selection of wines.