The East End — including EaDo, a.k.a. East Downtown — is one part of Houston that is undergoing a resurgence. New restaurants, bars, art galleries and other businesses are opening up in the area, attracting new residents. Some of the spots on this list are new, while others have been around way before the term EaDo ever existed; the new METRORail expansion in the area just might introduce a whole new generation of nightlife fans to these places and fuel still further growth. We normally create Top 10 lists, but we just couldn’t see leaving even one of these 11 places off this list; then we thought of even more cool places we could add, but we had to stop somewhere...right?
(Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)
8TH WONDER BREWERY
Named after the Houston Astrodome, which was designated the “Eighth Wonder of The World” after it opened in 1965 as the first climate-controlled domed stadium, 8th Wonder Brewery makes popular batches of beer, including its Dome Faux’m Throwback Cream Ale and Witty Blonde IntellectuAle, among others. If you’re wondering what a brewery is doing on this list, 8th Wonder opens up its tap room seven days a week for the public to stop by and taste 8th Wonder's various beers fresh from the source; you can also take a tour of the brewery every day at 4 p.m., purchase a pint glass and other gear, and grab a bite from the Eatsie Boys food truck out front on select days. (2202 Dallas, 8thwonderbrew.com)
This underground DIY venue has been hosting a lot of eclectic indie bands as of late; this is just the place to visit if you're looking for a new place to fill the void in your life created after Mango’s went out of business. Please be aware that if you're visiting for the first time, signage from the building's previous occupant, El Mante Taqueria & Minimarket, is still up outside; you will see a crowd out front when the occasional food truck stops by during a show. Recent musical acts tend to lean toward art-rock, punk, garage, noise and hardcore, oftentimes on the same bill; the other good news is that the shows here are reasonably priced, often only $5 or a bit more. Check out Black Barbie’s Facebook page for shows and details. (3621 Canal, facebook.com/BLACK-BARBIE)
Bohemeo’s serves locally roasted coffee in addition to wine and craft beers; lunch and dinner are also served, and the reasonably priced fare includes the popular fish tacos as well as vegetarian items. Live music performed at Bohemeo’s includes a Beatles open-mike night every Wednesday; rock, jazz and hip-hop acts also perform here on a regular basis. The extensive, lush patio and laid-back, casual atmosphere keep customers coming back; Bohemeo’s also displays work from local artists and hosts fun community events, including the “Weekly Bad Ass Bike Ride,” where a group of riders meet up every Thursday on the patio for a ride around town. (708 Telephone, bohemeos.com)
As far as we know, this is the only bar in Houston that opens up at 7 a.m. D&W Lounge does so to serve domestic beers to workers getting off the late shift at a nearby coffee plant. In addition to the workers, this is a friendly place that brings in people from all conceivable walks of life and age groups throughout the rest of day and night as well. Many who visit are taken with the decor of this dive bar, which includes lava lamps, a Marilyn Monroe painting, a big Buddha, a stuffed animal head on a wall, and other eclectic, kitschy knickknacks. Lately the place has been popular among cyclists; D&W has a patio out front for smokers, and the cheap beers are a big draw for everyone. (911 Milby, facebook.com/d.wlounge)
MOON TOWER INN
Moon Tower Inn specializes in serving up craft beers and sausages on pretzel buns; its "Wild Game Wieners" include such varieties as wild boar, duck, venison, rabbit, lamb, pheasant and more, with your choice of toppings. Bring some friends along with you and enjoy your food and brews on the picnic tables out in the large backyard area; also bring along a Frisbee or some hula hoops to play around with after your meal, or throw some horseshoes. Moon Tower also serves up burgers that are buy one get one free every Wednesday, and Thursday is steak night; an end-of-summer party is scheduled for this Sunday starting at 1 p.m. featuring lots of bands, a DJ and, as always at Moon Tower, irreverent fun. (3004 Canal, damngoodfoodcoldassbeer.com)
Neil’s Bahr celebrates all things geek culture and has lots of stuff to keep you occupied: watch an episode of The Simpsons or a classic sci-fi movie on the bar’s TV, read comic books from the bar’s collection if you're solo, or bring friends along to play some Nintendo 64 or PlayStation 2 video games or Cards Against Humanity. Neil’s hosts a lot of fun weekly events including trivia night, karaoke and a Magic: The Gathering tournament; the club also recently added a new ping-pong table. Don’t forget to drink a few craft beers and cocktails while you’re having fun; Neil’s is always the hot spot to be during Houston’s annual Comicpalooza. (2006 Walker, neilsbahr.com)
Helping to lead the charge for DIY spaces in Houston in the 21st century, this East End venue hosts live music, movies, private parties, video-game tournaments, dining, art galleries, classes and workshops. The Summit is housed in a cool-looking older brick building, and its name is an homage to the old Houston Summit, host of Houston Rockets basketball games, concerts and other events, which was later renamed Compaq Center after the computer company bought the naming rights; it is now home to Lakewood Church. In addition to attempting to reclaim the name for the city, this new Summit's stated goal is to promote and preserve Houston's creative community in all forms, without being beholden to any outside interests. (3536 Navigation Boulevard, thesummithouston.com)
SUPER HAPPY FUN LAND
This all-ages venue books acts that often can be described as being out on the fringe; if you'd like to go see music that's unconventional, not part of the mainstream and sometimes extreme, this is the place for you. Unusual comedy shows, plays, performance art and other unique events are hosted here as well. Super Happy supports the local art scene and has an art gallery on site; be sure to check out the giant Cabbage Patch Kids, stuffed animals and other interesting knickknacks lying about when you visit. Every March, SHFL hosts its annual SXSW Overflow Festival, where bands that are traveling through the area to Austin for SXSW get a chance to perform live here in Houston, as well as a meal and a place to sleep and shower if they like. (3801 Polk, superhappyfunland.com)
Brought to you by the team behind Moon Tower Inn, Voodoo Queen has a combination tiki bar/New Orleans theme and the look and feel of a dive bar, but the quality and creativity of its food and drinks far exceed what you might find in most dives. Some of the drink names here are comical, like the Penus Coladus, Wench's Titty Punch and the Whale's Vagina, a.k.a. the San Diego; if you arrive hungry, try the “3 Big Ass Chicken Strips” or “The Dead Elvis,” which consists of lots of peanut butter, six bacon strips and two bananas, all griddled on Texas Toast and smothered in rum-raisin maple syrup. Be sure and check out the cool curated jukebox inside and the painting on the outside of the building of Marie Laveau, a.k.a. the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, holding a rooster while in a swamp, looking as if she's about to practice some magic; take a selfie in front of it while you're at it. (322 Milby, damngoodfoodcoldassbeer.com)
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If you’re a music fan who has been living in Houston for any significant amount of time, you’ve most likely caught a show at Warehouse Live before; the venue features the Ballroom, which accommodates 1,650 people, and the more intimate Studio, which accommodates 450, both for general-admission/standing-room-only shows. Warehouse hosts a significant number of hip-hop shows in addition to rock, pop and other genres; comedy shows, art shows and special events are also held here, including the most recent Houston Press Music Awards Ceremony. (813 St. Emanuel, warehouselive.com)
This DIY East End staple hosts some of the most extreme, brutal death-metal and black-metal shows in town, along with punk, grind, noise and other forms of extreme music. In the not too distant past, it was sometimes difficult to nail down just exactly when the White Swan was open and hosting shows; thankfully, a recent check of the club's website and Facebook page shows that its calendar listings are current and up to date at the moment. You can also subscribe to an email newsletter from the club now so you never have to miss a show; as has always been the case, you can buy really cheap beers at White Swan when you visit. (4419 Navigation Boulevard, whiteswanlive.com)