Houston's 10 Best Bars to Beat the Heat

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway's 'Islands In the Stream,' MVSC's Green Isaac's Special features gin, coconut water, lime juice and Green Chartreuse. Refreshing!
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway's 'Islands In the Stream,' MVSC's Green Isaac's Special features gin, coconut water, lime juice and Green Chartreuse. Refreshing!
Photo courtesy of Mongoose Vs. Cobra

For the majority of the next few months, Houston – with its searing heat and soup-like humidity – is going to be pretty unbearable. That said, it’s summer, and summer is prime drinking time for those in and around the area. Many will simply brave the soaring temperatures and continue their patio season through the summer. Others, meanwhile, are looking to have a few drinks in temperature-controlled conditions. Fortunately, Houston doesn’t lack for options in either regard, least of all at these ten spots we think are the best.

The Maple Leaf's drinks are as frosty as the Great White North.
The Maple Leaf's drinks are as frosty as the Great White North.

10. THE MAPLE LEAF PUB
Maple Leaf Pub boasts one of Houston's better indoor spaces, with plenty of room to escape the heat, knock down a few drinks and take in some bar games or sports on TV. Ironically enough, the National Hockey League — a league played on ice and one whose roots are based up north — finishes up its season just as the temperature is turning up in Houston, making Maple Leaf Pub (the best hockey bar in town) an ideal spot to escape the heat and watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (514 Elgin, themapleleafpub.com)

A tasty Japanese martini at Anvil will cool you down every time.
A tasty Japanese martini at Anvil will cool you down every time.
Chuck Cook Photography

9. ANVIL BAR & REFUGE
Refuge indeed, as Anvil ranks among the best bars in town for getting indoors and enjoying a classic cocktail. Routinely regarded among the best bars in the country by publications such as Esquire, Anvil serves up an array of craft cocktails, including summertime favorites such as the Backslide and the Roamin Holiday. The drinks are upscale, but the vibe is laid-back. (1424 Westheimer Ste. B, anvilhouston.com)

The Pastry War's lively Day of the Dead-themed decor
The Pastry War's lively Day of the Dead-themed decor

8. THE PASTRY WAR
The Pastry War, which fuses the drinking culture of Mexico with French décor, was made for summer. That holds particularly true at happy hour, which runs weekdays from 4-6:30 p.m. and features specials on margaritas and Mexican beers. Plus, free pool! Those looking to dial it up a notch can indulge in summertime drinks like the Puma in Paradise, the Gringo Star or a house-made Michelada. (310 Main, thepastrywar.com)

Petrol Station
Petrol Station
HP Staff

7. PETROL STATION
The indoor space at this Garden Oaks gem isn’t particularly spacious, but the vast patio is pretty much covered by shade, which makes for a cooler time outdoors. The beer selection ranks among the best in Houston, as do the burgers. Petrol Station makes for a perfect summer evening on the patio. (985 Wakefield, twitter.com/Petrol_Station)

Houston's 10 Best Bars to Beat the HeatEXPAND
HP Staff

6. THE NIGHTINGALE ROOM
Speaking of Anvil, Nightingale Room owner Mike Criss has partnered with the team at Anvil in assembling its drink menu. Those drinks go down even better at this intimate indoor space, which ranks among the best spots in downtown Houston. Selections from the Nightingale's ample vinyl collection are played on weekdays, while house music rules the roost on weekends. It also features live and local music pretty much every day of the week it's open...which it's not on Sunday and Monday. (308 Main, nightingaleroom.com)

Next time in Midtown, treat yourself to MVSC's 'Brand New Daiquiri'
Next time in Midtown, treat yourself to MVSC's 'Brand New Daiquiri'
Photo courtesy of Mongoose vs. Cobra

5. MONGOOSE VERSUS COBRA
The beer selection at MvsC ranks among the best in Midtown. The bratwurst and cold-cuts sandwiches served up from the deli are on point. And best of all, the indoor seating is ample. Mongoose Versus Cobra, one of the more unique bars in town, is tailor-made for grabbing dinner and drinks with friends, and doing so in a comfortably temperature-controlled environment. (1011 McGowen, mongooseversuscobra.com)

 

4. MKT BAR
By day, MKT BAR serves as a place for downtown workers to stop in and grab a sandwich or salad from Phoenicia. By night, however, it morphs into a great happy hour and dinner spot. Featuring weekly events such as Fun & Games Mondays (board games, card games and food/drink specials) and Vinyl & Vino Wednesdays, MKT is not only one of the more underrated bars in Houston; it’s one of the best for escaping the brutal Houston summer heat. (1001 Austin, mktbar.com)

OKRA Charity Saloon
OKRA Charity Saloon
HP Staff

3. OKRA CHARITY SALOON
With its vaulted ceilings and natural light, OKRA may just be the most aesthetically pleasing bar in all of Houston. Couple that with the fact that this beauty of a bar is a predominantly indoor space, and you have one of our city’s best summertime bars. Plus, you’re drinking for a good cause — 100 percent of the bar’s proceeds are donated to a different Houston area nonprofit or social cause every month. As of mid-July, OKRA has raised nearly $750,000 for those charities. (924 Congress, friedokra.org)

At Neil's Bahr, the Force will be with you...always.
At Neil's Bahr, the Force will be with you...always.
Angelica Leicht

2. NEIL’S BAHR
Neil’s Bahr does feature a patio that serves up hot dogs and burgers, but the bar is predominantly an indoor space adorned with arcade games, old-school video games and couches galore. Couple that with weekly trivia and karaoke nights, a full-service bar and the occasional Mario Kart tournament, and Neil’s is ideal for summer good-timing. (2006 Walker, neilsbahr.com)

Little Woodrow's Shepherd
Little Woodrow's Shepherd
Clint Hale

1. LITTLE WOODROW’S SHEPHERD
To call Little Woodrow’s a Houston area institution may be an understatement – the Houston area features seven of them. Most of these offer ample patio space and are tailored to outdoor drinking in the spring or fall (or even a mild winter). That’s where Little Woodrow’s Shepherd varies from its siblings. The location on Shepherd does feature a patio, for those looking to brave the Texas summer heat. But the venue also features a huge indoor space, one equipped with bar games, televisions at every turn and a massive bar. Plus, unlike some other Little Woodrow’s locations, the Shepherd venue offers food service as well; we recommend the Breakfast Burger or the Mile-Wide Nachos. (720 Shepherd, shepherd.littlewoodrows.com)

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Neil's Bahr
miles
The Original OKRA Charity Saloon
miles
MKT BAR

1001 Austin
Houston, TX 77010

832-360-2222

www.mktbar.com

miles
Mongoose Versus Cobra
miles
The Nightingale Room

308 Main
Houston, TX 77002

713-555-1111

miles
The Petrol Station
miles
Anvil Bar & Refuge

1424 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77006

713-523-1622

www.anvilhouston.com


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