Tiki bars were wildly popular from 1930 to 1960, but interest started to fade during the '70s. Lately they've made a resurgence in several cities, Houston included. A dimly lit bar heavily decorated with bamboo, rattan, totem poles and a monkey hanging from the ceiling seems right at home in the downtown bar scene. However, Howie's Tiki is located down a busy stretch of FM 2920 in Spring.
Mark Voros opened up Howie's Tiki in February to give people in the suburbs a taste of a metro-area type bar. Growing up in Southern California, Voros was fascinated with tiki culture from an early age. "The tiki culture is multifaceted" says Voros. "Tiki bars are a good way to escape reality for an hour and just hang out." Voros's goal for Howie's, which is named after his grandfather, is for the bar to be a neighborhood place where people can come often and just enjoy themselves in a laid-back environment.
Voros has traveled all over, visiting tiki bars and researching original tiki recipes. Drinks at Howie's may be served in fish bowls and quirky ceramic mugs, but be warned, this isn't a cruise ship lounge. Don't expect sweet, syrupy fruit-punch-style drinks. Howie's serves authentic tiki drinks with housemade syrups, fresh-squeezed juices and premium liquors.
The drink menu at Howie's includes classic and modern tiki drinks, as well as cocktails and beer for less adventurous drinkers. Ordering at Howie's is just as much fun as drinking. Imagine sitting at the bar with your friends and placing an order for a Suffering Bastard, a Shark Bite or a Skip and Go Naked. Although after a few of the signature Zombie cocktails, that last drink might become a reality.
Happy hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m. and nine different drinks options are available ranging in price from $4 to $8. The tropical Blue Hawaii made with vodka, rum, pineapple juice and Blue Curaçao is offered only during this time. Howie's also just rolled out its fall drink menu of ten specialty cocktails, including a flaming drink called Thunderstruck, which can be ordered in a colorful commemorative tiki mug.
Most tiki bars don't serve food, but Voros felt it was an important aspect to incorporate into the overall atmosphere at Howie's. The food menu offers customers elevated options that are far above your typical bar bites. Small bites include Laki balls, crispy dumplings and smoked pork egg rolls. Not to be missed are the sweet and spicy char siu pork belly bao and the ridiculously addictive jerk chicken wings served over fried sweet potato strings.
For a heartier option, try the Triple B burger. A half-pound house-ground patty topped with crispy bacon and pork belly is covered with gooey cheese, white sauce, aioli and crispy sweet potato strings to create a symphony of flavors. This burger is not only delicious, but a great value at $11. In fact, most of the menu items at Howie's are quite reasonably priced considering the quality of food the kitchen is putting out.
An assortment of chicken sandwiches round out the menu in addition to some very tempting smoked blue cheese fries. Bars are not typically known as places to get dessert, but if a few Painkillers don't help you escape, the decadent coconut cream pie surely will. The rich, creamy custard piled high on a light and flaky crust will definitely transport you to a happy place.
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4334 FM 2920, 832-299-6991.
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 4 to 11 p.m. Friday 4 p.m. to midnight. Saturday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday 4 to 11 p.m.
Blue Hawaii $5
Aloha Bao $5
Jerk Wings $8
Triple B Burger $11
MaryAnn's Coconut Cream Pie $5