The Place: Red Lion Pub 2316 S. Shepherd 713-782-3030 http://www.redlionhouston.com
The Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays
The Deals: $1 off beer and well drinks
The Scene: The Red Lion is a nice lunch spot, but it isn't anything approaching a diner, drive-in or dive.
As implied by television personality Guy Fieri's show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives - a 2010 episode of which featured the English pub - it apparently qualifies, despite the fact that it isn't cheap or dirty or run-down or any of that good shit. (Or course, according to an un-cited source on Wikipedia, "Fieri's visual trademarks include his spiked and bleached hair, flip-flop shoes, red classic Chevrolet Camaro convertible car, and sunglasses [often worn on the back of his head while indoors]," so you have to consider there's a good chance he'd get eyeballed to death in a real dive.)
That phony distinction was the only exposure I'd had to the place, so I went by at lunch to see what it was like in real life.
The lunch menu is on the pricey side, with entrees going around the $11 to $14 range. Beer and drinks are $1 off, which for pints (Imperial pints, not American pints) brings most selections down to $6. There are some good British beers on tap, though, as well as some Continental and American stuff, and the tandoori chicken enchiladas - $11, served with chutney and yogurt on the side - were satisfying.
I sat in a comfortable booth and drank a Belhaven with the enchiladas and quickly figured out at least one thing that the Red Lion is: really goddamn English. The décor definitely leans Limey, with a red phone booth and darts and signs for the "Loo's," but the clientele fit the theme as well.
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A business-casual guy with a northern English accent ordered a "voddy and Coke," a thing that to me is about as attractive as Margaret Thatcher, who three other patrons (American woman, white wine; older American man, tea; Englishman, Harp) were praising in between criticizing Obama, who might not have even been born in the United States. (No bullshit, people are still talking about this.)
At one point the wine drinker commented that American liberals want everyone else to be as poor and miserable as them. This is not true. I just want women around my age to be poor and miserable enough to sleep with me. Everyone else can do what they want.
Do things, for instance, like drink during your lunch break. If you don't mind paying significantly more than dive prices for it, the food and beer are good enough to make a midday pub trip feel cosmopolitan instead of like a nap-inducing warning sign. Just don't get sloppy and let the Tories know you've been listening.