The Tavern On Gray
Suck at pool? Then travel to The Tavern's patio to enjoy the ancient art of table tennis. Wow the crowd with your wicked backhand and work off that beer gut chasing stray balls from under your fellow Ping-Pong enthusiasts' feet. When you need a break, quench your thirst with one of the establishment's 26 draft beers and gaze slack-jawed at the 85 TV sets. Then pick up your paddle again and show everyone who's the real Forrest Gump.

Suck at pool? Then travel to The Tavern's patio to enjoy the ancient art of table tennis. Wow the crowd with your wicked backhand and work off that beer gut chasing stray balls from under your fellow Ping-Pong enthusiasts' feet. When you need a break, quench your thirst with one of the establishment's 26 draft beers and gaze slack-jawed at the 85 TV sets. Then pick up your paddle again and show everyone who's the real Forrest Gump.

Bocce ball, basically a prehistoric version of bowling that involves what look like croquet balls, is best played in Boston's Little Italy. But Houston doesn't have a Little Italy, so we have to make do. Go eat some pasta. Have dessert at Dolce & Freddo to get in the mood. Then get a little drunk: Hans' Bierhaus has more than 140 international beers -- buy a stein full of something Italian. And head around back to the bocce area/beer garden and pretend like you know what you're doing.

Bocce ball, basically a prehistoric version of bowling that involves what look like croquet balls, is best played in Boston's Little Italy. But Houston doesn't have a Little Italy, so we have to make do. Go eat some pasta. Have dessert at Dolce & Freddo to get in the mood. Then get a little drunk: Hans' Bierhaus has more than 140 international beers -- buy a stein full of something Italian. And head around back to the bocce area/beer garden and pretend like you know what you're doing.

Ron's Pub & White Horse Inn
About two decades ago, when there were only a few dart bars around, darts enthusiast Ron Towne went from managing the original Sherlock's Pub to founding the one bearing his name. Ron's Pub doesn't sponsor regular traveling league teams and isn't a major tournament host -- it's simply the best neutral turf in town for darters. The serious practitioners come here on their nights off because they know they'll find quality opponents and an open board. (On the off chance that the boards are full, they simply play at the adjacent Whitehorse Tavern.) The unique thing about Ron's is that it's become darts central for women, many of whom hold their own against the best male players. In fact, the Dart Bitch Challenge, where the femmes target a male regular in a madcap evening of get-even fun, is now in its second decade. Ron died a few years ago, but his dart set remains enshrined here -- and his darting spirit has to be smiling over this intimate and engaging scene for the sport.

About two decades ago, when there were only a few dart bars around, darts enthusiast Ron Towne went from managing the original Sherlock's Pub to founding the one bearing his name. Ron's Pub doesn't sponsor regular traveling league teams and isn't a major tournament host -- it's simply the best neutral turf in town for darters. The serious practitioners come here on their nights off because they know they'll find quality opponents and an open board. (On the off chance that the boards are full, they simply play at the adjacent Whitehorse Tavern.) The unique thing about Ron's is that it's become darts central for women, many of whom hold their own against the best male players. In fact, the Dart Bitch Challenge, where the femmes target a male regular in a madcap evening of get-even fun, is now in its second decade. Ron died a few years ago, but his dart set remains enshrined here -- and his darting spirit has to be smiling over this intimate and engaging scene for the sport.

Unless you've got game, you'd best stay away from the basketball courts at Fonde Community Center. The guys who play here are ruthless about who they pick for their teams, and they don't take kindly to a sucky novice who can't hang. They're especially annoyed by high schoolers who try to get in on the action -- unless, of course, you're a teen about to be drafted by the NBA. Still, this is the place to find out just how good you are. Day after day, sweaty ballers play their hearts out on the same courts where Moses Malone and Clyde Drexler once practiced. The place is worth a trip just to sit on the sidelines and watch ex-pros -- and stars of tomorrow -- shoot hoops.

Unless you've got game, you'd best stay away from the basketball courts at Fonde Community Center. The guys who play here are ruthless about who they pick for their teams, and they don't take kindly to a sucky novice who can't hang. They're especially annoyed by high schoolers who try to get in on the action -- unless, of course, you're a teen about to be drafted by the NBA. Still, this is the place to find out just how good you are. Day after day, sweaty ballers play their hearts out on the same courts where Moses Malone and Clyde Drexler once practiced. The place is worth a trip just to sit on the sidelines and watch ex-pros -- and stars of tomorrow -- shoot hoops.

Tucked snugly away in the Cherryhurst section of Montrose, this single concrete court is perfect for a quiet match or for showing off your skills. Get there early and squat the court, but if you notice dirty looks from local residents waiting to play, you may want to concede. Looking to stage a grudge match? Invite your friends and the opponent, and let them arrive to find you pummeling the expansive backboard with your ferocious forehand. Treat everyone to a match worthy of Westside, and after your big win, head to nearby Cafe Montrose and entertain your fantasies of being a Belgian tennis star.

Tucked snugly away in the Cherryhurst section of Montrose, this single concrete court is perfect for a quiet match or for showing off your skills. Get there early and squat the court, but if you notice dirty looks from local residents waiting to play, you may want to concede. Looking to stage a grudge match? Invite your friends and the opponent, and let them arrive to find you pummeling the expansive backboard with your ferocious forehand. Treat everyone to a match worthy of Westside, and after your big win, head to nearby Cafe Montrose and entertain your fantasies of being a Belgian tennis star.

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