Many of us frequent the happening bars and clubs inside Loop 610, but have you ventured out to the suburbs and nearby cities to check out the nightlife scenes out there? With rents in popular Houston neighborhoods like Montrose and The Heights continuing to increase, many young people just starting out cannot afford to live in these areas anymore, and with the equal increase in traffic on our freeways, bars and clubs out in the suburbs are becoming a viable option. Of course, no matter what part of Houston or the surrounding area you live in, the places on this list are worth checking out. Just make sure you assign a designated driver or make other safe travel arrangements if you venture out far from home and plan on drinking.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
ACADIA BAR & GRILL
Acadia Bar & Grill out in northwest Houston has been around since 1982; local hard-rock and metal acts play live Wednesdays through Saturdays and most Sundays, taking advantage of Acadia's impressive light show and sound system. Usually three or four bands will play together on a bill, so if one of them does not knock your socks off, just take a break and eat a burger, some chicken wings or other bar food. A lot of great metal mayhem goes on in this place, with some guitar players who can really shred, so if you live inside the Loop, you really need to take a trip out and see it for yourself up close and personal. Smoking is also allowed inside Acadia due to some Harris County districting plan we don't quite understand. (3939 Cypress Creek Parkway, acadiabarandgrill.com)
BACCHUS WINE BAR
A friendly husband-and-wife team owns and runs this quaint little wine bar in League City, housed in a building that was a pharmacy back in the '60s. Patrons can order one of the 150 different bottles of wines in stock here, or just a glass or two, or more; 15 craft-bottled beers are also in stock to go with a number of food items offered such as a cheese plate, a Bacchus Pie and handmade pizzas with your choice of toppings. Mellow, relaxing music is played here, including jazz, classic rock and soul from the '60s and '70s; live music is performed on select dates. Chess and other games are on hand inside, and a patio out back shaded by a giant old oak tree is available for small anniversary and engagement parties or just for hanging out and relaxing; currently Bacchus is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
(601 East Main, bacchusleaguecity.com)
BFE ROCK CLUB
Metal has always been popular out in the suburbs, and headbangers out in BFE (Google the acronym) don't have far to travel to get their fix. One of the coolest events held here is the annual Dimefest, where a ton of metal bands play all day and late into the night in tribute to the late, beloved Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell; all proceeds benefit a different charity each year, with the 2015 show coming up in late August. In addition to the metal shows that are featured regularly here, a number of other rock bands from various subgenres stop by to play. (11528 Jones, bferockclub.com)
BOHEMIAN HILL TAVERN
Open since 1949 in a building that was formerly a gas station, this low-key, clean and friendly bar derives its name from both the historically large Czech community in Rosenberg as well as the fact that it is located on the highest spot in the city, topographically. Bohemian Hill serves up liquor, wine and beer to the locals of all ages, and each week hosts a lot of fun special events, including dominoes and shuffleboard tournaments, live music, customer birthday celebrations, karaoke, live music and more. This is a cool place to stop by if you live in or near Rosenberg, are visiting the area or just feel like taking off on a little short road trip just past Sugar Land with friends. (2339 1st, facebook.com/bohemianhill)
CARLOS'S BEER GARDEN
Open since 1978, Carlos's Beer Garden in Webster is a traditional Texas icehouse where domestic bottled beers are the drink of choice; wine is also available along with soda, water and setups for those who want to bring in their own bottle of liquor. Carlos's has a very friendly, welcoming vibe, with a crowd of regulars that includes both blue- and white-collar workers, college students from nearby UH-Clear Lake, and retired folks; people stop by for the awesome burgers and other tasty bar food like chicken-fried steak sandwiches and po-boys as well. Carlos’s is the kind of place where many of the regulars have known each other for years but folks are equally friendly to newcomers as well; the bartenders genuinely care about their customers and treat them right. If you need a haircut, a barbershop is located mere steps away next door, and is owned by the original Carlos. (18018 Texas 3, facebook.com/carlossbeergarden)
THE CONCERT PUB NORTH
Like its sister location in the Galleria area, Concert Pub North hosts its fair share of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath cover bands but has also moved on to hosting national touring acts, with an emphasis on hard rock and glam-metal acts; some nights the place can feel like you've been transplanted back to L.A.'s infamous Sunset Strip in the '80s, though some of the guys in these bands have cut (or lost) their big hair since then. Of course, some music fans deride a lot of these artists and dismiss them as "hair bands"; we say give them a shot and you'll probably have a good time, or just wait for some of the heavier touring acts or the next local Megadeth cover band to come through. (2470 F.M. 1960, theconcertpub.com)
Einstein’s Pub is a large dive bar out in Katy where smoking is allowed and they have a pretty decent selection of Texas craft beers; the burgers and pizzas are the highlights of the food menu. Einstein’s has several popular weekly events like trivia night and karaoke, as well as live music from local bands on the weekends. The place is known to get a little bit rowdy and the regulars like to play pool, darts and video games here while gulping down their drinks; local sports teams’ games are usually tuned in on the bar's numerous flat-screen TVs.
(873 S. Mason, einsteinspub.com)
MAIN STREET CROSSING
Main Street Crossing, which opened in 2004 in historic downtown Tomball, hosts a lot of talented singer-songwriters and musicians who perform Americana, folk, roots, blues, rock, country and more, making the place worth the trip if you live in Houston. Main Street is a small, intimate venue with good sound where patrons come out and enjoy the music, with not a bad seat in the house. In addition to the established musicians who come through, the venue also allows young performers a chance to get up onstage and play before a crowd. Also a nonprofit organization, Main Street appreciates any donations you can give to help keep the place going into the future; you can also help out by buying some beer, wine and/or bar food when coming out for a show. (111 East Main, mainstreetcrossing.com)
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Scout Bar is a popular Clear Lake music venue that often hosts rock and metal bands as well as artists from a variety of other genres; a solid lineup of national touring acts and local bands visit here every week. Scout Bar is a good place to see live music because of the fantastic sound system and elevated bar that allows you to go grab a drink and not miss any of the show; when a big-name artist comes to town, it is best to arrive at the club a little early if you want to stake out a spot close to the stage for you and your friends. Scout Bar can get packed on these nights. (18307 Egret Bay Boulevard, scoutbar.com)
This giant country dance hall in northeast Houston has an equally large dance floor and plenty of space for parking out front; in addition to the country music played here, the DJs will also mix in some top 40, hip-hop and techno during any given night. Because it's outside of Houston city limits, smoking is allowed inside Stampede, though not on the dance floor; if you are too young to have experienced the mechanical bull at Gilley's, Stampede has one you can ride. Live country music is performed at Stampede as well, with concerts by the Josh Abbott Band and Roger Creager coming up later this summer; past performers at Stampede include country legend Merle Haggard.
(11925 Eastex Freeway, stampedehouston.com)