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Happy Hour Scene: Going Voyeur at Ginger Man

The Place: The Ginger Man Pub 5607 Morningside 713-526-2770 http://houston.gingermanpub.com/ The Deals: $1 off draft beers

The Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays The Scene: If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. If you wish you make yourself feel bad about your unhealthy lifestyle, you must first invent then universe, then go to happy hour Tuesday at the Ginger Man, where you can watch a procession of joggers coming back from the Rice University track.

Like spawning salmon, except not hideous looking, they're returning to where they started. Brian O'Neill's, next door to the Ginger Man, hosts a popular weekly running club meet-up. Participants get free food and, after a certain number of runs, free beer. And anyone on the front patio of GM gets to relax and watch people in shorts sweat.

Which is not nearly the only reason to go to the Ginger Man. No disrespect to cover bands or baseball hats, but it's the only good bar of the three on that stretch of Morningside. O'Neill's and Baker Street aren't the worst places in the world, but there's no particularly good reason to visit them. They're the Nebraska of bars.

Meanwhile, the Ginger Man, the original in a six-part Texas chain of bars, has some actual character. The inside is small but comfortable. It feels like you're drinking in an eccentric gentleman's (or lady's) cottage, which is stocked with a decent analog jukebox and a massive beer selection (but no liquor). And as a bonus, it's named after the 1955 J.P. Donleavy that was banned in the United States for obscenity. It's a fitting name for a place that's not gritty enough to be a true dive but is by no means uptight. And it's mostly free of the frat-ish crowds that keep its neighbors busy.

A friend and I ordered a couple beers (me, Fuller's London Porter; him, Spaten Optimator because he's a borderline alcoholic and appreciates efficiency) posted up on the front patio and watched the runners. Even on a Tuesday the Ginger Man had a solid early evening crowd. I noticed one younger guy smoking a pipe on the porch, also observing joggers. He looked like a time-traveling 19th-century anthropologist who'd transported himself to the closet of a modern-day Rice grad student and put on the first clothes he could find, in the dark. And even though I should be getting more exercise after work, it's not so bad being on that guy's team.



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The Ginger Man Pub

5607 Morningside
Houston, TX 77005

713-526-2770

houston.gingermanpub.com


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