By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
The Lounge A smaller, slightly hipper cousin to owner Charlie Watkins’s Tavern on Gray, the Lounge packs a bar, a club and a sushi restaurant into a surprisingly small space. Inexpensive pitchers draw in pretty, well-heeled young professionals by the Lexus-full. DJs and live party-type bands vie for space on the Lounge’s stage. 4704 Montrose, 713-520-0020.
LZ PubYou'll never see a bar's demographic change so drastically within a single day. By weekday, LZ's is a watering hole to a smattering of neighborhood retirees. By night -- especially Thursdays, it seems -- it's a sanctuary for frat bros and sorority sisters on their cells and on the prowl. The jukebox boasts an eclectic rock and classic country mix -- a little Patsy Cline, a little Ramones. Wednesday happy hour offers a unique treat: There's a limited supply of dirt-cheap freshly made sangria; and around 6 or 6:30, a stack of pizza pies arrives, free for the taking. Another note of interest: Comedy fans will find a number of local comics on both sides of the bar on a regular basis. 2239 Richmond, 713-522-7118.
Magnolia Bar & Grill 6000 Richmond, 713-781-6207.
Marfreless Tucked away in a nondescript white hulk of a building near River Oaks is this hidden treasure. There’s no sign over the blue door, but walk right in. Oh, yeah — and this is vital — don’t forget to bring a date, because this is Houston’s finest public indoor makeout spot. You and your honey can plop down on one of many couches on the bar’s two levels, order up a bottle of wine, drink in the low-in-the-mix classical music and soft lighting, and go to it like eighth-graders behind the skating rink. 2006 Peden, 713-528-0083.
Maribelle's In the shadow of the Kemah Bridge, Maribelle's has a well-earned reputation as one of the Gulf Coast's most colorful roadhouse bars. Though known in the past as strictly a biker bar, these days pickup trucks and SUVs share equal space with the hogs parked out front, and folks race in to reserve one of the two pool tables adjacent to the stage. On weekends, local country/rock cover bands take over from the jukebox, which often blasts out rap or metal tunes between sets, making for quirky time-warp transitions. In the summer, bands or singer-songwriters often set up on the huge outdoor deck, where patrons who forget to spray down grapple with seagull-sized mosquitoes. 305 Bath, Seabrook, 281-474-9919.
Market Square Bar and Grill The downtown branch of the T.K. Bitterman's mini-empire, this laid-back tavern on the square has a blue-collar appeal sorely lacking elsewhere downtown. As with its West Alabama cousin, baseball is the motif -- pictures of Astros greats and near-greats from the Cesar CedeĂ±o orange-rainbow era adorn the bare brick walls, but Market Square also offers a full menu and live blues and folk on the weekends. 311 Travis, 713-224-6133.
Marquis IIEarly evenings find this seedy-looking lounge filled with hard-drinking geriatrics, and the ambience is something like that of an icehouse: lots of arguing and bullyragging over local, national and world affairs. Around ten, the old folks clear out and the students and other assorted twentysomethings rush in -- it's one of the closest things Houston has to a frat/sorority bar. Giant Long Island teas are the main attraction on the bar menu, while a large-screen TV and several pool tables in the back room offer up viewing and playing options. 2361 Bissonnet, 713-522-2090.
Martini’s & More 311 Sawdust Rd., 281-296-8464.
Mary Jane's Fat CatThe newest incarnation of one of Washington Avenue's most storied rooms, Mary Jane's Fat Cat continues to book the touring indie rock bands that were its stock-in-trade when it was plain old Mary Jane's. A grandly mirrored bar, a stuffed moose head and a cheap tapestry (more of a rug, actually) portraying the Last Supper adorn the walls, and the entire staff is composed of musicians and veteran music lovers. 4216 Washington Ave., 713-869-5263.
Max's 2002The best-known southwest Houston spot moved from its Augusta location to the former home of Club Phoenix a while back, and now it's wilder and rowdier than ever. If there's one place in this city where it can get so hot in therre that you will literally see people take off all their clothes, it's Max's. Somebody tell Nelly that he has a club for an after-party the next time he performs here. 64 Woodlake Square (Westheimer at Gessner), 713-266-3443.
M BarYes, it is located on the same sacred ground where that cavern of NoDo hedonism known as Prague once stood, but that doesn't mean you'll be getting the same type of experience. Well, maybe a little. (The notorious unisex bathrooms are still functioning below the club.) Although it may be scant on the fashionable debauchery Prague made into its calling card, M Bar is still a lavish place where the pretty people can come out and play. 402 Main, 713-222-1022.
McElroy's PubOwned by an Irishman and staffed by several of his compatriots, McElroy's is more authentic than most of Houston's pubs, too many of which feel like Irishized versions of Chili's. McElroy's strives not for the twee thatch-roofed country feel; instead it hopes to capture the vibe of a central Dublin bar, and it mainly succeeds. Live acoustic Irish music concerts are held here on St. Patrick's Day and other red- (or should it be green-) letter days, and the jukebox is stuffed with Clancy Brothers, Chieftains and Christy Moore. A great place for conversation and a spot of black beer. 3607 S. Sandman, 713-524-2444.