As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.
In this case, we've bent a few of the above rules (just a bit) and rather than confine ourselves to a specific area of town, have cobbled together the most "hip" places in town and put them all into one spot. This is a list is for places -- a typical night at some of these places; a specific night at others -- where young Houston dresses not necessarily to impress, but to see and be seen nonetheless.
10. POISON GIRL With a solid selection of Texas craft beers and weekly poetry readings, Poison Girl is a no-brainer for hipsters. Having been a staple of the Montrose area for years now, it's always brimming with young and aging scenesters alike, despite being easy to miss. Head out back and bump shoulders with the Kool-Aid man and wax philosophical with some thoughtful strangers.
1641 Westheimer, 713-527-9929, Facebook page
9. GRAND PRIZE BAR For three years now, Grand Prize has been the melting pot of Houston bars, bringing together youthful Montrosians and Museum District yuppies alike. Even Bun B shows up from time to time. Whether downstairs, on the balcony or in a dark corner somewhere, scenesters, hipsters and young successfuls all flock to and from Grand Prize's front door for craft beers, cocktails and a fully operational kitchen.
1010 Banks, 713-526-4565, Facebook page
8. FITZGERALD'S (Open Mike Night) Unless otherwise noted, Fitzgerald's Houston hosts an open-mike every Wednesday night. It's become quite the spectacle, due in no small part to management by the one and only John Mills-McCoin. Like any open-mike, it can be hit-or-miss, but the beers are cheap, the crowd young and the music loud. Skinny jeans, mustaches and Pabst Blue Ribbon abound.
2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838, fitzlivemusic.com
7. BOONDOCKS Decidedly the third corner of the Montrose trifecta, rounding out Catbird's and Poison Girl, this dimly lit, stuffy watering hole has boasts a solid jukebox, cheap drinks and a young, young clientele. Since it's so humid inside, head on out to the massive smoking patio while you sip your PBR and wax philosophical with friends and strangers alike. Wells are only a buck on Wednesdays, and '90s dance parties are a staple. Are the '90s really that far gone?
1417 Westheimer, 713-522-8500, Facebook page
6. BIG TOP LOUNGE (Fistful of Soul Night) Since Fistful of Soul moved over from the Mink about three years ago, the Continental Club's little brother has been transporting Houstonians back to the '50s and '60s through old R&B records. Unofficially, there's something of a retro dress code, but all else is fair game. Oh, and healthy sex drives are encouraged. Watch out for the older couples, though. They can cut a rug, and they may just drink you under the table too.
3714 Main, no phone, bigtoplounge.com
5. THE PETROL STATION Featuring craft beers only in a no-frills setting, Petrol Station, cozy as ever, is a favorite of beer enthusiasts. The selection of brews on tap is eccentric and constantly in a state of flux, minus a few staples, and, coupled with a solid kitchen, this former fill-up station a local favorite for those in the know.
985 Wakefield, 713-957-2875, Facebook page
4. MOON TOWER INN Pretzel buns, sausages and beer... Need I say more? Just outside downtown (though far from the Midtown area} in Second Ward, Moon Tower draws a clientele hungry, thirsty and in good spirits. They'd better be, or else they get charged extra for being jerks. Seriously. It open-air setup is filled with patio seating, though there is a bit of covering for those looking for repose from the sun.
3004 Canal, 832-266-0105, Facebook page
3. MKT BAR (Vinyl Night) Every Wednesday, this downtown restaurant/gastropub hybrid becomes scenester central, as local-music luminaries put on their DJ pants and spin their favorite vinyl records. Sponsored by Heights Vinyl, this is only one of many "theme nights" MKT Bar throws for its customers. As if the drinks and Lebanese pizzas weren't enough reason to visit.
1001 Austin, 832-360-2222, mktbar.com
2. DOUBLE TROUBLE CAFFEINE & COCKTAILS As its name suggests, this full bar and coffee shop is a double threat. Espressos are served in polished wooden cups alongside craft cocktails and beers in a swanky yet mildly upscale environment. The wi-fi is complimentary, making Double Trouble a great spot to enjoy a cup of Joe during the day.
And when the sun sets, patrons can close their laptops, ask for a full menu and enjoy an adult beverage. The brews aren't the only local option either; the beans, of the Greenway Coffee variety, are too.
3622-D Main, 713-874-0096
1. Bingo in the Heights SPJST Lodge 88 isn't a bar, per se, but once a week it is inundated by young people, bottles of liquor and pizzas. The venue's popularity has grown exponentially over the past few years, so much that people show up hours early to secure a spot.
So why not take a walk in your granny's shoes and head into the Heights for some fun? Bingo has become the place to be for young people every Thursday, where tattooed, bearded men bump elbows with AARP members, earning it our top spot.
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1435 Beall, 713-869-5767, lodge88.org