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Party at the Moon Tower

This Second Ward hangout is all about good food, good beer and good friends.

Speaking of a bit of hair on the chest, my most recent trip to Moon Tower Inn culminated in a competition of sorts between myself and my dining companion, a ferocious pastry chef, to see who could ingest the most blackberry-ghost pepper sauce that was a special that night.

The sauce came on a smoked brisket sandwich that accompanied the usual selection of dogs. I was pleased to see something else on offer, even if was only for a limited time. When I mentioned this to the guy behind the counter in the little red shack that serves as Moon Tower's base of operations, he told me the one-day-only brisket sandwich was due to higher demand for the dogs, which meant that Moon Tower had brought in a smoker. This new addition accounted for the pleasant smell of charred wood that hung in the air and the smoked brisket that night, as well as a new expediency at the counter.

"We've started smoking them all day," he said. "So we can serve them up almost as soon as you order them." This is far better than the initial system, in which poor Evan Shannon manned one solitary grill all by himself as orders poured in. The wait back then could stretch into the 45-minute-to-an-hour mark, although the copious amounts of beer always made that wait mostly bearable.

Be prepared to wait for your gourmet hot dog.
Troy Fields
Be prepared to wait for your gourmet hot dog.

Location Info

Map

Moon Tower Inn

3004 Canal St.
Houston, TX 77003

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: East End

Details

Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays.

All hot dogs: $6 each

Zapp's potato chips: $1.25

Moon Tower Inn

3004 Canal, 832-266-0105.

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The brisket had been thrown onto the smoker that day just for fun, then coated with a sauce of Shannon's own creation, the dark, sweet fruit hiding the almost concussive burn of the ghost peppers until it was too late. "There isn't enough of this stuff!" crowed my friend as she stalked back up to the counter for more. They gamely filled a plastic cup with the blackberry-ghost pepper sauce and handed it back, after which we played a game of chicken with it — the aching burn in our chests eased slightly by copious amounts of Stash IPA — as we watched the crowds pour in throughout the evening.

Moon Tower really gets going each night around eight p.m. at the earliest, so you're advised to go early if you want to stake out a good seat under the awning, next to the barely burbling fountain that looks as if it's been there for at least 50 years.

"You know, it's funny," the pastry chef said as we finally got up to leave for the night. "I thought this place would be too cool for me to eat at, but it's not." I laughed and told her I'd felt the same way on my first visit.

I thought of something else Hlavaty had said that first night: "If you think that going to a place makes you cool, you're an asshole." Going to Moon Tower doesn't make you cool by proxy. Cool doesn't enter into it here. It's nothing more than good food, cold beer and enjoying your friends' company over those two things on a breezy night. It's an icehouse for the young or just the young at heart, a restaurant without walls, a refuge for those who want high-end food but don't want to dress up (or pay up) for it: Moon Tower is all of these things, and Houston is better for it.

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