Best Renovation - 2011
Readers' Choice: Readers' Choice: Market Square Park
As Houston's oldest continuously-operating bar (not including icehouses), Leon's always had its stained-glass and crystalline charms. There was even a level of elegance remaining beneath the nicotine grit and spilled Busch residue of the past 60-plus years. Last year, Pete and Vera Mitchell of Under the Volcano fame bought the bar and at last revealed their months-long facelift, and what a job they did polishing this dustiest of gems. While the bar still feels old and funky, they've removed the naugahyde and other synthetics, replaced the carpets, scrubbed up and installed new tiles, varnished the wood on the bar and restored the bar's overhanging chandelier to its ancient glory. While it might not rival the Julia Ideson Library's renovation in scale, it does do so in execution. And that's a good thing, because for some people, a town's oldest bar says more about it than its oldest library.