Tailgating in Midtown
From afar, beer pong looks like an absolutely unnecessary activity. But up close? Man, watching people play the regular beer-pong tournaments at Christian's Tailgate (2000 Bagby), it's... it's... actually, we suppose up close it's unnecessary too.
Essentially, beer pong is like that game they used to play on the Bozo the Clown show from way back — just tossing ping-pong balls into cups. But instead of children doing this, it's grown men and women.
And the prizes aren't candy necklaces or bicycles or whatever, just beer or money that will inevitably be used for beer. And rather than a smiling, smiling face, you play with the steely determination Kobe Bryant reserves for the fourth quarters of Game Sevens.
Granted, that sounds like the exact recipe for a sandwich of disbelief and disdain — "Are you really beating your chest because you bounced a tiny ball into a cup, sir?" — but somehow the whole thing rolls itself into a big ball of interesting.
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A Midtown sports bar, particularly one egregious enough to host any sort of "Greek Night," is likely what a lot of people assume Hell is like. But Christian's has been earning a reputation as one of Houston's best sports bars recently, and it's not hard to sort out why.
For one, the venue is part of the Rise Lofts building (units from $200-$600K), which means inside and out it's a sturdy, well-kept, eye-pleasing property, highlighted by an expansive patio. It also means Christian's can present itself as a John Everyman bar for the neighborhood kids, but still be trendy enough that people will drive to it.
"Anyone can feel comfortable here," says Karla Felan, 35, who — despite living more than 15 minutes away — has been visiting Christian's for more than two years.
"I even brought my parents here, and they loved it," she adds. "For the area, this is the most laid-back place to go. You don't have to get all primped out.
"We're not hip enough for Washington Avenue," chuckles Felan, only half-joking.
There you have it: It's not Washington Avenue. #burn
Furthermore, Christian's is within walking distance of the equally enjoyable Komodo Pub (2004 Baldwin) and Front Porch Pub (217 W. Gray), making for a proper drinking triumvirate.
The bar's burgers are the sort of thing Katharine Shilcutt could spend 1,200 words discussing. Everyone concedes that the burgers are far superior at Christian's Totem (7340 Washington), the establishment that spawned Christian's Midtown, but Tailgate's burgers are no slouch.
And finally, it just feels like a congenial place, which is always important.
The following happened over the course of one recent evening: A guy in shorts, Air Jordans and a Houston Texans logo shaved into his head was not needlessly harassed by a stodgy doorman or manager. Two women argued the fitness merits of the shake weight for men while that commercial played during the poker programming on the bar television; somehow, neither woman made a masturbation joke.
A couple of guys worked on a couple of burgers, while a few others took their turns at that game where you punch a punching bag and wait for it to embarrass you by giving your blows a quantitative score. Another beer pong tournament wrapped up.
All the while, affable owner Steve Christian wandered around, striking up conversations with this person and that person and just generally seeming to enjoy himself.
From afar, Christian's looks like an absolutely unnecessary bar. But up close? Man, up close it might be just the opposite.
Consider it sophomoric if you like, but we've always been fans of DJs with sexually suggestive names. More than that, we've always been fans of DJs who do more than just press "play" on a preset playlist. That's why we've been gobbling up the tapes from DJ Penetrate's Free Mix series like mad. Although we only became aware of the Free Mix series a couple of months ago, Penetrate is a mainstay on the Houston hip-hop scene. Perhaps you've heard of some of the acts he's worked with: Beyoncé, Pitbull, Gwen Stefani? Each week, Penetrate releases a new mix available for free download. Check him out at www.djpenetrate.com to get your copies before he decides to stop doing them.
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