The Davenport Lounge
Don't ask the bartenders at the Davenport if they have any suggestions, or you'll be drinking Barbie's Bathwater before the guy next to you makes his first move with his silicone date. Luckily, you don't need to ask for help, because the drink menu at your fingertips offers a long list of hilariously named cocktails. Where else can you find drinks like Duck & Run, Antarctic Blast, Keke D and Bloodied and Bruised? And with more than 50 different kinds of vodka, along with all the other usual liquors and mixers, each drink is as unique as its name.

To name a drink is to love a drink. Harvey Wallbangers are for old geezers, Sex On the Beach is not all it's cracked up to be, and having a Screaming Orgasm is what life's all about. But why not just say it like it is? A rainy night at The Boat at 3 Cheers produced this dizzying little number made of vodka, Southern Comfort, Galliano, orange juice and sloe gin. Keep your old-fashioneds, Exploding Irish Car Bombs and Sex with an Alligator -- we'll take a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall every weekend we can manage.

Your boss has been giving you a hard time. Your lower back's giving you grief. And your girlfriend's not giving it up. Well, the top-shelf margarita at Noche won't get you a promotion, it probably won't heal those aching vertebrae, and it sure won't get you laid. But once you've ordered this delicious concoction, you won't care about any of that. Pull up a stool and watch as the bartender lovingly measures out the Presidente brandy, Sauza Hornitos, orange juice, triple sec and sweet-and-sour mix; shakes the concoction tenderly; and pours it into a martini glass adorned with a lime wedge on a little plastic sword. Savor the comforting tart-sweet balance of the mix and the decadent tongue-pinch of the tequila. After a few sips, you'll start to wish you could have another. Lucky for you, there are at least two more servings waiting for you in the shaker.
Azteca's Margarita Bar and Grill
Robert Z. Easley
Okay, here's the situation: There's this spot near Shepherd Plaza that serves delicious fruit-flavored margaritas that are way too easy to get hooked on. Half the joy comes from watching the fiery seorita behind the bar make them. She puts the flavored syrup (strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, Halle Berry, Ken Berry, Boo Berry, Berry Gordy -- whatever kind of berry suits you) in the plastic cup first, then piles on the frozen margarita mix. Then, you take your swizzle stick and mix it all up. And voilà, a lovely concoction that's sweet and soothing and can get you drunker than the Hilton sisters on spring break. Hell, just writing about it makes us feel a little inebriated.

Floridita, Florida's, whatever. Management can change the name as often as they like, just as long as they don't change the recipe on the dark rum mojitos. Sweetened lime juice, club soda and fresh mint mingle with dark rum in a tropical paradise. One will get you humming like the overhead ceiling fans; two and you'll swear you can write like Hemingway. Where's that big fish?
The folks at CharBar take martini-making seriously, precisely measuring their cocktails as if they were fitting a new suit. And that makes sense, since this bar shares space and ownership with the Duke of Hollywood tailor shop. In fact, about the only thing missing from the fabulous chocolate Tuxedo Martini is owner Mike Shapiro's favorite prop, the tape measure. The greatest thing about drinking at CharBar is that you can get outfitted with stylish duds -- and even get your shoes polished -- while the bartender whips up another cocktail. It's the ultimate demonstration of living large.
Hurricanes come and hurricanes go, but the question is which one did the most damage? Floyd's takes no prisoners with its off-the-cuff version, and it pleases us to no end that the drinks are not served in regulation Pat O'Brien hurricane glasses. Grab yourself a seat at the bar, order up a couple dozen oysters and some spicy Cajun fare, and wash it all down the right way. When the Tabasco has the smoke coming out of your ears, there's simply no better feeling than to bury that straw in your drink and suck down three to four ounces of spiked fruit juice. Floyd's also has a sense of tradition, and when Mardi Gras rolls around, no place does it better than this bayou boozery.
The menu at Marine's lists 46 different empanadas. The rest of the menu items play second fiddle to these little pockets, filled with delicious delicacies. On the savory side of the menu, the Chuck Wagon ($2) is the way to go. It consists of chopped sirloin steak with mushrooms in a red wine sauce, all neatly packed in a pastry pocket. The best example, however, is on the sweet side of the menu. The banana with dulce de leche empanada ($2.25) is an incredibly rich concoction combining tiny pieces of banana with a hot, thick caramel sauce. One bite and you'd swear you were eating a liquid version of a caramel banana split.

Pollo Campero
"Tierno! Jugoso! Crujiente!" reads the slogan on the outside of the chicken box. And "Tender! Juicy! Crunchy!" is a pretty fair description of the chicken at Pollo Campero, the fast food fried chicken chain that recently invaded Houston from Guatemala. The crust, formed by a simple flour dip, is very crisp. And the meat is marinated before it's cooked, so it stays extremely moist. But the most astonishing thing about Pollo Campero's fried chicken is how little grease clings to it. The fried chicken here is served with tortillas and salsas. The day that this location opened, television news teams were on hand to report that Guatemalans, Salvadorans and other Latin Americans were standing in line for up to five hours to get some Pollo Campero.
Drinking bourbon at the Twelve Spot is a celebration of both the new and the old. The bar is one of Houston's newest hip spots, but its sexy decor is made up of wood as old as the casks that distill this sweetest of whiskeys. The Bourbon Challenger is a fancy name for Wild Turkey with a splash of orange juice and Rose's Lime. According to the bartender, the original drink was made with three different shots of bourbon, but that hiked up the price so high they quit making them. Mind you, the kinder, gentler version can still be something of a challenge to activities like walking, talking and taking down phone numbers. So go easy if you're interested in socializing with the Twelve Spot's exotic crowd.

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