The West End
David Rozycki

The West End has a massive patio that can seat more than 400 people, making it a good spot for after-work get-togethers and parties; the clientele is made up largely of young professionals and business people who work in the Galleria area. The bar food menu is extensive, so you can get burgers, wings, fish and chips, and a whole lot more; there is a Clockwork Orange theme going on here, with images inspired by the film on employees' T-shirts and on menus and signs, but the bar itself looks nothing like the Korova Milk Bar, maybe a little Duke of New York pub, for all you Kubrick fanatics. Join the bar's pub club to become a "droog" and earn points toward free appetizers, West End merchandise and even a trip to a brewery of your choice in Europe, including airfare and hotel.

treadsack.com/johnnysFans mourned The Boom Boom Room when it closed its doors, but the building is now home to a worthy successor. While the bartenders at Johnny's are perfectly capable of coming up with complex cocktails (some of them even compete in local and national competitions), the real appeal here is the no-frills classic cocktail program. Some of the best drinks ever invented have only three or four ingredients, and Johnny's has a list of ten for only $8 each. These include martinis, gimlets, mojitos, mules and old-fashioneds. The space, all done up in greens, creams and oranges, is sparse yet comfortable and an attractive place to relax.

READERS' CHOICE: Anvil Bar & Refuge

For some, it may be nostalgia. For others, perhaps it's a final requiem to a dying icon. Whatever the case, there is no better option for getting your selfie on than in front of the Eighth Wonder of the World. With all due respect to the David Adickes sculpture "We 0x2665 Houston," few things say how much you love this city like a photo of yourself with perhaps its greatest monument. Be sure to hashtag it #SavetheDome for obvious reasons.

Andy Noble and Dionne Sparkman Noble introduced NobleMotion Dance just six years ago at the 2009 Big Range Dance Festival in Houston. In the last season, the company filled Hobby Center's Zilkha Hall for a two-night run — a rarity among local performing arts companies. The company, part of the resident incubator program at the Houston Arts Alliance, mounts three full-length Houston productions and a New York City tour every year. The company's signature quality is innovation. It paired with Musiqa, a contemporary music group, for Tonal Impact, a recent production. The company ended the summer on a high note, producing what may have been the group's most ambitious program — Storm Front: Experience the Elements, an impressive exploration of wind, rain, snow and light.

Alice's Tall Texan Drive Inn
David Rozycki

Generally speaking, nothing ruins a good dive bar like talking about what a great dive bar it is — because then the people who "just love dive bars" show up in droves — but Alice's Tall Texan has long been the exception to that rule. With its neon signs and cowboy wallpaper, you get clued in to the vibe of the place the second you walk in the door. The jukebox is usually blaring out classic country tunes and you're welcome to help yourself to any of the food people bring in and put on the side table for everyone to enjoy. Alice's serves other things — though you won't find any craft beer on tap around here — but it's always smart to go with a frosty fishbowl goblet of Lone Star for $1.25 or Shiner for $2.50.

READERS' CHOICE: Poison Girl

It was perhaps the most important 18 minutes in American history, the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto. Texas forces led by Sam Houston faced off with the Santa Anna-led Mexican army and the fate of two nations hung in the balance. Houston's forces won; Texas became an independent nation, eventually joining the United States and Mexico began a long decline in territory and power. Today the San Jacinto Monument marks the spot. Surrounded by the battleground, the Monument is actually a museum/research library/observation deck. Picnic on the battleground, watch Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto, a chronicle of Texas history, tour the exhibition (currently "A Destined Conflict: The U.S. – Mexican War") or ride the elevator up 500 feet and get a 360 degree view of the area from the monument's observation deck.

READERS' CHOICE: Johnson Space Center

PJ's Sports Bar

The last time we went to PJ's, we waited in anticipation inside the nearly empty upstairs cave while the Karaoke Man set up the sound system, tweaking this knob and that. We wanted to get there early to get a good seat. He wore all black, which blended nicely with his bushy gray mane and beard. He looked like he was once maybe a roadie for Grand Funk Railroad. Hell, he might have actually been in Grand Funk Railroad. And then, once his sound-levels were just right, he grabbed the mike and belted out a pitch-perfect rendition of "Selling the Drama" by Live. What a curveball. Before we knew it, it was an hour and a half later, the room was packed and everybody had somehow become best friends, hoisting cold Shiners and shout-singing along to "Piano Man." Friday night karaoke at PJ's means instant fun and instant friends, even if they're off-key. It can't be beat.

READERS' CHOICE: Glitter Karaoke

Memorial City Mall

Even before the construction of Frolic's Castle, Memorial City Mall sported the best indoor playgrounds in the city. Now it's so good it's hard to believe it's free. It features a massive, multi-story castle set among an equally huge fairy-tale forest, and kids can run, jump, climb and play for hours in the cool air of the mall. Plus, the playground is gated and monitored by a security guard so that you don't have to worry about your munchkins running out of your sight as they dart among giants and dragons. The only downside is that Frolic's Castle is open only during mall hours, so be aware if you're trying to get in an early Sunday morning play session that the gate will likely be locked.

Moving Sidewalk
David Rozycki

The death of izakaya Goro & Gun was sad, but it made way for new life in the form of an innovative bar. Moving Sidewalk (run by Goro's former bar manager, Alex Gregg) initially received a lot of attention for creating nitro-frozen cocktails, some of which were designed to change character as they melted. Moving Sidewalk is no snooty, pretentious bar, though. The program changed this past summer to a more lighthearted theme inspired by the surfer-crime drama Point Break. Among the most popular drinks are Babes, a carbonated, bottled cocktail of white rum, clarified strawberry and lime, and the MS House Old Fashioned with bourbon, rye, piloncillo syrup and Angostura bitters.

READERS' CHOICE: Cottonwood

Alamo Drafthouse - Vintage Park

Okay, so you can catch the latest blow-'em-up blockbuster at any of dozens of movie theaters around town. Why pick one over the other? Parking? Prices? Popcorn? All those things are important, sure, but Alamo Drafthouse Cinema — Vintage Park takes our Best Movie Theater award because of its super-special programming. The theater recently screened A League of Their Own and Tank Girl with actor Lori Petty in attendance. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection "F," and a 3-D version of the monster flick Creature from the Black Lagoon got screen time. Popular series include quote-alongs (Better Off Dead), Kids Camp (The Parent Trap) and Video Vortex (Blood Massacre).

READERS' CHOICE: River Oaks Theatre

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