The next time you’re out at a restaurant or bar, take a second to survey those around you and notice how many are glued to their smartphones. Odds are, it’s a sizable lot. Indeed, we live in an era dominated by smartphones, tablets and laptops when the ranks of work-from-home types swell each day. Not to mention college students who are more reliant than ever on technology in completing their studies. And then there are those who simply can’t go five minutes without checking Twitter or updating their fantasy football roster. Fortunately, when it comes to technology, these Houston bars have you covered. (This list is in alphabetical order).
THE BLACK LABRADOR
Considering its proximity to pretty much every major college and university in town, The Black Lab is a popular study spot for area students looking to gain a little knowledge while enjoying English food and drink. It’s also quite shaded outdoors, which means it’s going to be a nice patio scene in a month or so. Free Wi-Fi is ideal for laptop and tablet types, and when it comes time for a study break, get down on some darts or oversized chess. (4100 Montrose #8, blacklabradorpub.com)
One of the more chill bars you’ll find inside the Loop, Boheme is another ideal spot for students and work-from-home types looking to get out of the house and get some work done. The atmosphere is social enough to provide nice background noise, but not too social as to become a distraction. Plus, the menu — particularly the handcrafted pizzas — ranks among the finest bar food in the city. (307 Fairview, barboheme.com)
Coaches ranks among the finest football-watching spots in Midtown, one that also offers free Wi-Fi. That combination is a fantasy-football diehard’s dream. It’s no surprise to see Texans fans and non-Texans fans alike at Coaches on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays throughout the season, tied to their laptops and tablets as they keep up with up-to-the-minute fantasy scores and updates. Enthusiasts can follow their teams in real time while getting down on 65-cent wings on Thursdays and Sundays. (2204 Louisiana, coachespubmidtown.com)
One of the more underrated neighborhood bars in Houston, Darkhorse Tavern is housed in a cozy 1920s building, complete with bar games, free popcorn, couches, a jukebox and, of course, free Wi-Fi. Warm and friendly is probably the best way to describe it (something that holds particularly true for the staff), making it suitable for those who're looking to escape the house but want to be productive in the process. Also, any bar that’s been able to make it as long as Darkhorse has on Washington (it’s been open since 2004) is certainly doing something right. (2207 Washington, dhtavern.com)
DOC’S MOTORWORKS BAR & GRILL
Hey, not everything that emanates from Austin is elitist and hipster-ish. Case in point: Doc’s, as welcoming a neighborhood bar as you’ll find. Fantasy football and gambling types can keep apprised of the latest on their teams via Doc’s free Wi-Fi, and they can do so while watching the game on any number of Doc’s TVs. Meanwhile, those burning the midnight oil on school or work stuff can get down on quality bar food options like tacos and burgers (plus gluten-free options and all-day breakfast!); the kitchen is open until 11 on weeknights and midnight on weekends. (1303 Westheimer, eatdrinkdocs.com)
Tucked away on tiny Rockyridge in a mini-strip mall, Nick’s Place is kind of a hidden treasure on the Houston sports-bar scene. It’s also one of the best places to post up on Sundays and watch football, thanks to TV sets at seemingly every turn. Free Wi-Fi allows revelers to keep tabs on their fantasy team, and the vibe is just laid-back enough to be conducive to those looking to study or bang out a little work on the weekends. Plus, the menu at Nick's ranks among the best – and most underrated – casual Italian offerings in the city. (2713 Rockyridge, nicksplacehouston.com)
The other Creeks (Cedar and Canyon) also offer free Wi-Fi and certainly cater to tech types, but Onion Creek gets the nod because it's the most quaint of the three, as kind of a bar/restaurant/coffee shop hybrid). On a nice day (they’re coming at some point), Onion Creek’s patio is perfectly suited to those on their laptops, and its laid-back indoor space is ideal for those in the mood for a social-yet-understated spot to get some work done. (3106 White Oak, onioncreekcafe.com)
Pub Fiction has always been a favorite of locals looking to watch their team on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Now, thanks to a recent remodeling, it’s even more of a football-watching destination. Pub Fiction, which offers free Wi-Fi for fantasy enthusiasts, recently reopened after undergoing a three-month makeover. The result was an expanded patio (5,000 square feet), a new bar inside, updated indoor seating, and — because why stop with a building remodel? — an updated food menu. Pub Fiction isn’t exactly tailored to those looking for a quiet weeknight, but for people who want to bust out the laptop during the day (or even on a non-Thursday weeknight), its new and improved model does the job. (2303 Smith, pubfiction.com)
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Like Pub Fiction, Ripcord – one of Houston’s pre-eminent gay bars – isn’t exactly where you want to be on a Friday or Saturday night if you’re looking to finish up those TPS reports on your laptop. After all, that’s when the leather-infused joint becomes party central. But during the afternoon, and on certain weeknights, Ripcord and its free Wi-Fi are laid-back enough for you to get some work done on the laptop or tablet. And you don’t have to worry about the sun warping your view of the screen; Ripcord doesn’t have any windows. (715 Fairview, 713-521-2792)
WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE
Ample patio space. Bar games aplenty. Basketball hoop. Cheap beer. Kickass taco truck across the street. One of the best vibes among Houston-area bars. West Alabama has it all, including free Wi-Fi. That comes in handy during patio season, when locals venture out with their kids and dogs (both are welcome), laptops, tablets and smartphones in tow. (1919 West Alabama, facebook.com/walabama)