In a city in which most bar owners' decorative aesthetic runs toward merely plastering the walls and ceilings with garish beer and liquor ads, the 141-year-old La Carafe (which over the decades has been an Indian trading post, a steam bakery and a Pony Express stop) stands out like a Vermeer among velvet Elvises. The walls there have not been festooned with art as much as they have simply accreted tangible history. The old portraits of luminaries like Jack Yates and Sam Houston, the ancient show prints and sheet music, the political propaganda from public dins long since quieted, the photographs dating from the dawn of the medium, and the musty mirror (taken from a church baptismal) -- all are among the pitiful few public reminders that Houston is rapidly approaching its bicentennial. The famous candles stuck in wine bottles that have been growing like stalagmites further the notion that a trip to La Carafe is like a voyage into a magic cavern of the Bayou City's past. What's more, the jukebox is one of the best in town, and the beer is always ice-cold. Have one, and hoist a toast to the sunny slopes of long ago.
La Carafe
In a city in which most bar owners' decorative aesthetic runs toward merely plastering the walls and ceilings with garish beer and liquor ads, the 141-year-old La Carafe (which over the decades has been an Indian trading post, a steam bakery and a Pony Express stop) stands out like a Vermeer among velvet Elvises. The walls there have not been festooned with art as much as they have simply accreted tangible history. The old portraits of luminaries like Jack Yates and Sam Houston, the ancient show prints and sheet music, the political propaganda from public dins long since quieted, the photographs dating from the dawn of the medium, and the musty mirror (taken from a church baptismal) -- all are among the pitiful few public reminders that Houston is rapidly approaching its bicentennial. The famous candles stuck in wine bottles that have been growing like stalagmites further the notion that a trip to La Carafe is like a voyage into a magic cavern of the Bayou City's past. What's more, the jukebox is one of the best in town, and the beer is always ice-cold. Have one, and hoist a toast to the sunny slopes of long ago.
Good bars are always established around solid personalities -- and the best inevitably become maternal institutions for the patrons. Liz Knox learned early on how to succeed in the often slippery business world of drinking establishments. With more than three decades under her belt, she can finally look back and laugh at the early times -- at her first place, she had to write a check to the drink supplier and hope there'd be the initial traffic to generate the cash to cover it. There was. And in the years that followed, Liz learned to cover her clientele with the kind of attention, service, smiling humor, motherly care and often stern advice to set her bars apart from the pack. Lizzard's, the popular Sackett Street pub she turned over to her son, is perhaps the best example. By now, this veteran bar operator has thousands of surrogate sons and daughters -- drinkers and waitstaff alike -- whom she's consoled (and cajoled, for that matter) and counseled and aided in her career. When it comes to bars, this mom knows best.
Good bars are always established around solid personalities -- and the best inevitably become maternal institutions for the patrons. Liz Knox learned early on how to succeed in the often slippery business world of drinking establishments. With more than three decades under her belt, she can finally look back and laugh at the early times -- at her first place, she had to write a check to the drink supplier and hope there'd be the initial traffic to generate the cash to cover it. There was. And in the years that followed, Liz learned to cover her clientele with the kind of attention, service, smiling humor, motherly care and often stern advice to set her bars apart from the pack. Lizzard's, the popular Sackett Street pub she turned over to her son, is perhaps the best example. By now, this veteran bar operator has thousands of surrogate sons and daughters -- drinkers and waitstaff alike -- whom she's consoled (and cajoled, for that matter) and counseled and aided in her career. When it comes to bars, this mom knows best.
The white rhinestone-studded jumpsuit never looked better on Elvis himself. His throaty version of "Love Me Tender" is a seductive swooner. And what 26-year-old "Elvis" John Newinn began for fun seven years ago as an Elvis impersonator has taken him to performances in different U.S. cities (including Memphis, of course, twice a year -- in January for the King's birthday, and in August for the anniversary of his death), Canada and Vietnam. Parents Henry and Tania fled Saigon with their infant son when the embattled city fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975. When they came to Houston, they embraced Elvis as the epitome of the American dream, and played his music in their home. And they encouraged their then-shy son to step up to the microphone (yes, they had one for home use) and sing along. The result is perfect renditions of the King's repertoire, complete with shaking hips and pouty lips. The junior in computer information systems at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches performs on request, but has had to curtail most weeknight appearances for his studies. But he doesn't plan to hang up his jumpsuit, he says, as long as he can shake a leg.
The white rhinestone-studded jumpsuit never looked better on Elvis himself. His throaty version of "Love Me Tender" is a seductive swooner. And what 26-year-old "Elvis" John Newinn began for fun seven years ago as an Elvis impersonator has taken him to performances in different U.S. cities (including Memphis, of course, twice a year -- in January for the King's birthday, and in August for the anniversary of his death), Canada and Vietnam. Parents Henry and Tania fled Saigon with their infant son when the embattled city fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975. When they came to Houston, they embraced Elvis as the epitome of the American dream, and played his music in their home. And they encouraged their then-shy son to step up to the microphone (yes, they had one for home use) and sing along. The result is perfect renditions of the King's repertoire, complete with shaking hips and pouty lips. The junior in computer information systems at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches performs on request, but has had to curtail most weeknight appearances for his studies. But he doesn't plan to hang up his jumpsuit, he says, as long as he can shake a leg.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of