MKT Bar may be a wormhole into an alternate reality — a reality where downtown Houston actually achieved and maintained its full potential as an entertainment and shopping district. A long marble bar fronts an Italian espresso machine, well-stocked wine refrigerators and a long bank of draft beer taps that range from local craft brews to unusual imports. The hard-surfaced interior of concrete and subway tiles holds unexpected warmth thanks to inviting lighting, exposed brick walls and a large bank of windows overlooking Austin Street. The red-curtained stage has played host to popular local acts like The Tontons and Deep Cuts as well as national stars like Passion Pit. The space is both urban and bohemian, and thanks to its location adjoining Phoenicia — its big-sister grocery store, which also provides the bar food — it's a commonsense marriage of grocery store, bar and neighborhood cafe that has been present in so many other major metro areas but not Houston. Not until MKT Bar.