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Madman Across the Water

Sir Elton John piano-pounded Toyota Center March 28.

It may be in a strip mall, but once you make your way inside Plonk!, you'll forget all about that until you walk back to your car. The back/side patio has a relaxed and quiet ambience, emphasized by the white Christmas lights that often hang low above patrons' heads. Add in the large selection of beers and a full menu inside, and everyone has a reason to love Plonk!

2. The Spot Club

1732 W. 18th, 713-864-4485

thespotclubhouston.com

Bless their hearts, the staff at The Spot Club are clearly Bible-Belt denizens, serving up drinks with true Texas charm. Cozy and inviting, this Heights-area drinkery offers both steak and ladies' night every week, and live music is regularly scheduled, too. There's also a dance floor, an arcade game, a pool table, electronic darts and a television on which you can root, root, root for the home team.

Visitors are advised not to upset the quick-­witted bartenders, who won't mince words if you're pissing them off. So you're telling me the staff actually keeps the assholes out? Count me in.

1. Shady Tavern Ice House

1206 W. 20th, 713-869-7000, facebook.com/

ShadyTavernIceHouse

There's tons of outdoor seating at this tavern, there's shade to enjoy and the young daytime crowd is a pleasure to be around. Also outside, there's a small stage for musicians. Beer and wine are all Shady Tavern offers its patrons, so you don't have to worry about the "shots" crowd.

There's nothing on tap, so beer from the fridge is all you'll find here, but it's cheap, chill and casual. What's not to like?

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