Houston is a vast metropolis, one of the more eclectic cities you will find. People come from far and wide to make Houston home, which results in our city ranking among the most global and diverse in America. But make no mistake — this is still Texas, and Houston is as Texan as it gets. From barbecue joints to high-school football, this city personifies our state. That holds true for the nightlife as well, particularly the country-western scene. Houston certainly doesn’t lack for quality country bars, as evidenced by these joints, the best honky-tonks in the Houston area.
10. NEON BOOTS
The premiere gay country bar in town, Neon Boots keeps the party going late, particularly on Fridays, when it stays open until 4 a.m. Neon Boots features all-night happy hour specials on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and weekly karaoke and game nights keep the party going. Looking to brush up on your country dancing? Neon Boots offers dance lessons (both line dancing and couples) every Thursday night. (11410 Hempstead, neonbootsclub.com)
9. WHISKEY RIVER
Whiskey River offers music and dancing both inside and out. The music is predominantly country, with some hip-hop and pop mixed in (there's always a dude breakdancing there), moreso on Thursday nights, when the younger party crowd comes out. And when the music closes down for the night, there’s typically food being served up out front. Please keep in mind, however, that Whiskey River strictly enforces its dress code, so best show out when engaging in a little boot scootin’. (7637 FM 1960 W., facebook.com/whiskeyriverhouston.com)
Look, Rebels isn’t exactly the most authentic honky-tonk in Houston; it doesn’t help when the crowd is far too young and attractive to fit into a Waylon Jennings song. That said, the bar caters to its crowd and ranks among the best on Washington, and does feature live and local country music every Thursday night. Plus, Tejano Sundays is always a good time. Rebels also features a mechanical bull and one of those punching bag games where people test their drunken strength, which is tailor-made for closing time on Saturday nights. (5002 Washington, rebelshouston.com)
7. STAMPEDE HOUSTON
For Christ’s sake, Stampede’s slogan is, “It’s a Texas Thing,” so of course it makes the list. Not that the slogan alone is the reason for its inclusion; Stampede ranks among the city’s most bumping country-western joints on Friday and Saturday nights. The venue is huge, and features plenty of live music to satisfy a crowd. Noteworthy acts playing Stampede in August and September include Lonestar, Joe Nichols, Kevin Fowler and Roger Creager. (11925 Eastex Fwy., stampedehouston.com)
6. BIG TEXAS
With two locations in the suburbs, Big Texas is kind of a big-box dance hall. It offers everything you need in one spot; you simply have to drive a ways to get there (well, unless you happen to live in the Spring or Clear Lake areas). The drive is worth it, as both locations feature nightly drink specials, country hits aplenty and plenty of room to actually, you know, dance. (19959 Holzwarth, Spring/803 E. NASA Rd. 1, Clear Lake, bigtexassaloon.com)
5. GOODE’S ARMADILLO PALACE
Goode’s is a dance hall, patio bar and restaurant all rolled into one. Plus, it has that really big, badass armadillo out front. Goode’s is open five nights a week for dinner (you can’t go wrong with the Backyard BBQ Chicken or venison chili) and dancing, but the weekend is really when the honky-tonking starts. Goode’s also unveiled its expanded dancehall last month with a big party, so there's even more room to line-dance and two-step. (5015 Kirby, thearmadillopalace.com)
If you’re willing to make the drive out to the Cypress area, you’ll find one of the more underrated country joints in town residing out there. Masones has quickly established itself as one of the area’s pre-eminent honky-tonks, thanks to a country calendar that features the likes of Mark Chesnutt, Bri Bagwell and Doug Stone. The venue is spacious, two bars keep the lines moving and live country music every weekend keeps the dance floor going all night. (11133 Huffmeister, Cypress, masonessaloon.com)
3. REDNECK COUNTRY CLUB
Right down to the name itself, Redneck Country Club is a quintessential honky-tonk. Live country music from the likes of Gary P. Nunn, Tracy Byrd and Cody Canada & the Departed – as well as an array of local acts – keeps the dance floor going every Tuesday through Saturday night. Grab a little dinner as well before you hit the dance floor; Redneck CC serves up some mean brisket mac n’ cheese. (11110 W. Airport Blvd., Stafford, theredneckcountryclub.com)
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2. MO’S PLACE
You want some of the best in live country music? Make the drive to Katy, because Mo’s has it in spades, including Josh Abbott Band on August 13. Hell, Hollywood star Billy Bob Thornton and his Boxmasters are playing the following night! While it’s a bit of a trek for non-Katy residents, Mo’s is the ideal setting for those who like their honky-tonks legit. No joke, last time I was there, I got to witness a bar fight and everything. (21940 Kingsland, Katy, mosplacekaty.com)
1. FIREHOUSE SALOON
A lot of local joints showcase the best and brightest on the Texas country scene, but perhaps no place better than Firehouse Saloon. Among the multitude of beer signs and cowboy boots hanging from the ceiling, first-rate acts like Zack Walther Band, Darrell Goldman, Josh Fuller and Mario Flores will pass through this month. The dance floor is spacious and the crowd is lively, which makes for a great night of honky-tonking. (5930 Southwest Fwy., fireshousesaloon.com)