Brian O'Neill's So you're at an Irish pub knocking back a pint of Guinness, checking out the beautiful people of Rice Village, when all of a sudden you look at your buddy and say, "I'm gonna sink your battleship!" Well, you can at Brian O'Neill's, where they match great food and drink with your favorite games. They've got typical pub fare like darts and Golden Tee, but you can also chill with some checkers, chess, Connect Four (pretty sneaky, sis!), Jenga and Battleship. Whether you want to lounge inside on a sofa or get some fresh air on the patio, you'll have plenty of games to keep yourself entertained. Waitress, we'll have another round of Harps, buffalo wings and a chess board, please!

The Lounge at benjy's The upstairs lounge at this Rice Village restaurant offers eight specialty martinis, strawberry-infused vodka and great chilled sake. But more than fantastic drinks, it has the perfect cocktail-lounge atmosphere: swank, sexy and fun. From the low-slung leather couches to the mod pale blue barstools to the pastel Chinese lanterns, the place hums with an understated Asian chic that perfectly matches the menu of Japanese-inspired noshes. After work is the best time here, when Med Center folks meet and greet over mojito martinis at the bar, and the suits, looking for something quieter, murmur over spring rolls on the patio.

The Lounge at benjy's The upstairs lounge at this Rice Village restaurant offers eight specialty martinis, strawberry-infused vodka and great chilled sake. But more than fantastic drinks, it has the perfect cocktail-lounge atmosphere: swank, sexy and fun. From the low-slung leather couches to the mod pale blue barstools to the pastel Chinese lanterns, the place hums with an understated Asian chic that perfectly matches the menu of Japanese-inspired noshes. After work is the best time here, when Med Center folks meet and greet over mojito martinis at the bar, and the suits, looking for something quieter, murmur over spring rolls on the patio.

Cultural Baggage Like many of us, Dean Becker has a problem with the current war against the livelier substances available on our streets -- particularly marijuana. With "Project Housterdam," he's knocking on the doors of every politician in town, spearheading an initiative smokier than a hole in Afghanistan after Dubya had his way with it. In his personal fight for the liberation of pot and all its users, Dean talks to doctors, politicians, cops and anyone who'll face his microphone. Much of the time he confronts the people who could do something about the war but don't, and boy, does Dean have some suggestions for them. He's not the smoothest talker in the world, which might hinder interviews, and he can be a bit hazy at times, but his persona makes for great radio. And at least he's not sitting on his couch, sucking a bong and talkin' about "Who's better: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?" He's sparking a revolution. One joint, er, one show at a time.

Cultural Baggage Like many of us, Dean Becker has a problem with the current war against the livelier substances available on our streets -- particularly marijuana. With "Project Housterdam," he's knocking on the doors of every politician in town, spearheading an initiative smokier than a hole in Afghanistan after Dubya had his way with it. In his personal fight for the liberation of pot and all its users, Dean talks to doctors, politicians, cops and anyone who'll face his microphone. Much of the time he confronts the people who could do something about the war but don't, and boy, does Dean have some suggestions for them. He's not the smoothest talker in the world, which might hinder interviews, and he can be a bit hazy at times, but his persona makes for great radio. And at least he's not sitting on his couch, sucking a bong and talkin' about "Who's better: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?" He's sparking a revolution. One joint, er, one show at a time.

Confessions Who doesn't want to eavesdrop on or, better yet, weigh in on, a total stranger's dysfunctional relationship? That's the premise of Confessions, KCOH's mid-afternoon talk show hosted by the unflappable Wash Allen. At the beginning of the show, a "soothsayer" phones in to say he's cheating with his wife's sister, or that her husband doesn't know it but their kid is not his. What should these people do? The callers always have plenty to say, and Allen stays mainly on the sidelines, noting only that he's "got yours" when one of the callers has finished with his or her advice. Beats the hell out of listening to the right-wingers bitch about Kerry's war record and Clinton, that's for sure.

Confessions Who doesn't want to eavesdrop on or, better yet, weigh in on, a total stranger's dysfunctional relationship? That's the premise of Confessions, KCOH's mid-afternoon talk show hosted by the unflappable Wash Allen. At the beginning of the show, a "soothsayer" phones in to say he's cheating with his wife's sister, or that her husband doesn't know it but their kid is not his. What should these people do? The callers always have plenty to say, and Allen stays mainly on the sidelines, noting only that he's "got yours" when one of the callers has finished with his or her advice. Beats the hell out of listening to the right-wingers bitch about Kerry's war record and Clinton, that's for sure.

Best Blues and Soul Preservationist

Eddie Stout of Dialtone Records While Stout is an Austinite, we feel he deserves an award from us anyway. After all, many of the artists he records -- Little Joe Washington, Gloria Edwards and soon Earl Gilliam -- are from here; and no one else is cutting official albums on them. And what albums they are: Washington's volcanic Houston Guitar Blues has attracted favorable national attention and stamped the pint-sized bluesman's ticket to Japan several times, the last of which was as an opening act for the White Stripes. Edwards chips in on the all-female, funk-soul-R&B compilation Texas Soul Sisters, and her rumbling, low-down "Hoochie Mama" is one of the best tunes to come out of Houston in years.

Best Blues and Soul Preservationist

Eddie Stout of Dialtone Records While Stout is an Austinite, we feel he deserves an award from us anyway. After all, many of the artists he records -- Little Joe Washington, Gloria Edwards and soon Earl Gilliam -- are from here; and no one else is cutting official albums on them. And what albums they are: Washington's volcanic Houston Guitar Blues has attracted favorable national attention and stamped the pint-sized bluesman's ticket to Japan several times, the last of which was as an opening act for the White Stripes. Edwards chips in on the all-female, funk-soul-R&B compilation Texas Soul Sisters, and her rumbling, low-down "Hoochie Mama" is one of the best tunes to come out of Houston in years.

Off the Kuff In a field cluttered with "what I had for breakfast" and "my girlfriend/boyfriend is so cute" entries, Charles Kuffner's gazette keeps track of local and national politics, music, baseball and a bunch of other stuff in an informative and digestible way. And among political bloggers, Kuffner also stands out as a sensible moderate Democrat amid all the paranoid libertarians, smug right-wingers and shrill lefties typing their screeds in cloudy cuckoo land.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of