Between Houston's recent stormy weather and more precipitation forecast for this weekend, it’s time to consider the city's best rainy-day bars to visit. Sure, staying home and watching TV during the rain or curling up with a good book is fine, but sometimes you just need to get out of the house after being stuck in all day, and these places have got you covered. Of course, it should go without saying that you shouldn't venture out during any extreme weather in which the roads near you or these bars are flooding, right? Otherwise, get out there and have a good time.
(Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)
ALICE'S TALL TEXAN DRIVE INN
This neighborhood bar is a very friendly, welcoming place no matter your background or age; don't be surprised if strangers offer to buy you beers all night. Alice's Tall Texan Drive Inn is the kind of bar you want to go to when the rain comes down, as the good cheer inside will make you forget all about the stormy weather outside. Contrary to popular belief, the Tall Texan sells more than just cheap 18-ounce Shiners and Lone Stars in giant fishbowl-shaped goblets, although those two drinks are popular choices among many patrons, no doubt. This is a must-visit place in Houston for any dive-bar aficionado or Texas beer joint fan; the old jukebox packed with classic country favorites for many years has been replaced with an Internet model, but have no fear, many of the regulars still play those old-time favorites. Don’t be surprised if you run into Alice herself, since she still runs the place and is very neighborly. (4904 North Main, facebook.com/pages/Alices-Tall-Texan)
BOSTA WINE & COFFEE
If you get caught in the rain after visiting destinations in the Museum District, drop by Bosta Wine & Coffee to warm up and dry off a bit; this place offers a nice selection of craft beers and food, in addition to an extensive list of coffees and wines from all over the world. If you're an early riser, a full breakfast menu is served, as are salads, sandwiches, paninis, sides and meat-and-cheese plates for lunch or dinner; for dessert try an affogato, which consists of vanilla bean or chocolate ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. This is a cozy little place, and the large windows in front make it a good spot for watching the rain come falling down on a lazy afternoon. (1801 Binz, bostahouston.com)
Not to be confused with the 1980 Brooke Shields coming-of-age film set on a tropical island paradise, the Blue Lagoon in Spring Brach is a drinking establishment that's considered a dive-bar paradise by many of the regulars and newcomers alike. You can have a good time here seeking shelter from any storm, and power drinkers and barflies are hardly endangered species; there is space to move about and even dance if the mood strikes you during Friday-night karaoke. Sometimes the bar provides free food for customers, like pizza or hot dogs; at least they did the last few times we've dropped in. This is the kind of place where you meet some fascinating characters, though not always the kind you want to sit and chat with all night long; the folks here will never let a little — or a lot — of rain stop the good times from rolling. (1248 Witte, facebook.com/pages/Blue-Lagoon)
THE GINGER MAN PUB
Opened 30 years ago at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's second term as president way back in 1985, this Rice Village institution has been serving up an impressively large selection of draft and bottled beers from around the world to the locals since long before the current craft beer craze took off in recent years. We all know that the Ginger Man’s front and back patios remain great places to while away the afternoon, evening and night when the weather's nice; on rainy days the inside is a cozy place to hang out with the friendly regulars and think about sunny weather. Bring along some of your mates and order sandwiches and snacks to share along with your pints. (5607 Morningside, thegingerman.com/houston)
THE HONEYMOON CAFE & BAR
The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar downtown delivers good coffee and specialty craft cocktails, and is also a good spot to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner. You could conceivably eat all of your meals here one day and drink away until closing time if you were so inclined; this is also a good place to hang around if you get stuck in one of Houston’s notorious thunderstorms and are waiting for it to pass through. On Saturdays and Sundays, a brunch is served as well; soft scrambled eggs on rye or smoked salmon can be washed down with a Bloody Mary or passion fruit mimosa, among other tasty choices. Honeymoon is one of the great places downtown to people-watch, since its location at the corner of Main and Congress provides a view of downtown office workers, party people and musical street performers coming and going, depending on what time you visit. With its many windows, Honeymoon is a cool place to sit and watch the rain come down as well on a stormy day or night. (300 Main, thehoneymoonhtx.com)
LEI LOW BAR
Lei Low Bar is a Tiki bar in The Heights that provides a cool, calm atmosphere with tropical decor and elaborate rum-based mixed drinks that will make you feel like you're on vacation. Opening up the front door and stepping in is really like stepping into a whole other world and leaving your cares behind for a bit; as in Houston, tropical climates produce a fair amount of rain certain times of the year, so a little precipitation outside just might enhance the vibe inside even further. The owner says he has been fascinated with Tiki bars since childhood, so he created a fantasy world of his own. The music here adds to your relaxation: Exotica, Hawaiian and reggae are played, and a local musician performs live with a Hawaiian lap-steel guitar for your listening pleasure on select nights. (6142 North Main, leilowhtx.com)
NOUVEAU ANTIQUE ART BAR
Nouveau Antique Art Bar has been around for a while now as trendy clubs have come and gone nearby. The big draw here is the large collection of reproduction Tiffany lamps and Art Nouveau (French for "new art") antique furniture that gives the place a distinct look and feel; the interior will complement a rainy day just fine. The decor, as well as the low lighting, cozy couches and low-volume music that lends itself to conversation, helps create a romantic atmosphere; drop in on Lounge Night Wednesdays to hear the music of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, which can further enhance your romantic mood — more so than a night of listening to, say, indie-rock or metal at your usual dive. The large parking lot out front means you won’t have to walk too far out in the rain before entering. (2913 Main, art-bar.net)
THE SPOT CLUB
This large dive bar located in a strip center has enough space to keep you and lots of your friends cozily out of the rain; there is also a little covered patio out front on the concrete that will keep you dry as well when you need a smoke. The Spot Club hosts live bands and karaoke with the help of a stage in the corner, with a dance floor when you want to get your groove on. There are lots of small round tables with chairs in the club, which gives the place a bit of the look of a seedy nightclub in Las Vegas back in the 1970s; the place has character. The Spot is usually populated with enthusiastic regulars from the neighborhood lounging around the bar and chatting up the familiar bartenders; plenty of free parking allows for a quick dash inside when the rain is pouring down. (1732 West 18th, facebook.com/The-Spot-Club)
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Warren's is a Houston institution with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, a nice place to escape to if you get stuck in the rain in the downtown area. Located in a historical building, Warren’s has features such as chandeliers, large mirrors, a catbird-seat gazebo and low lighting with a few Christmas lights strewn about for good measure. It's just a cool, casual place to hang out, and it has an authenticity about it; the martinis served here have a reputation as being quite potent. Be sure to check out the bar's eclectic jukebox and let some of the old tunes available take you on a journey back in time. If you walk in here drenched in an overcoat and hat, you might feel and look as though you've just stepped into some old film noir. (307 Travis, warrensinn.biz)
Wooster's Garden is big on craft beer, with more than 49 brews on tap as well as an impressive menu of handcrafted specialty cocktails that always seems to be getting updated lately. The crowd here is often made up of people who stop by after work as well as those who live nearby who walk over; it can be a destination spot as well, and everyone is made to feel welcome. With the iron and glass front wall and ceiling here, you can get a really nice view of the rain coming down if that's your thing. Wooster's serves well-above-average bar food seven days a week, so you won’t starve waiting for the rain to pass; live music here every Monday. (3315 Milam, woostersgarden.com)