As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.
UPDATE (Friday, 9:30 a.m.: Adds 8th Wonder, substitutes Mojeaux's for Cork Soakers.)
The area just east of downtown is a budding neighborhood. It's got plenty of going for it, including the Dynamo's fancy new digs and a new rail line (soon), and may very well be on the verge of a boom.
This makes its nondescript, unnecessarily fancy moniker that much more irritating, but it's what is being used to describe the region, so we'll acquiesce with the label... Begrudgingly. No matter what you call it, there are plenty of bars worth visiting in the area, and we've compiled a list of our favorites for you below.
10. SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY/8TH WONDER BREWERY. Being placed at the beginning of our list is anything but a snub of Texas' oldest craft brewery, or one of its newest. It's just that, technically speaking, neither one are bars. Still, six days out of seven, Saint Arnold hosts tours and tastings, well worth the $8 admission fee. Don't miss the weekday lunch too, which should give you sufficient motivation to get shit done in the morning.
8th Wonder Brewery, meanwhile, was opened last summer by a trio of craft-beer lovers and now regularly offers the Hopston IPA, Intellectuale blonde ale and Alternate Universe (a German-style altbier) to go with even more specialized test batches like the Rocket Fuel Vietnamese coffee porter. Food is never very far away thanks to the Eatsie Boys food truck -- Eatsie founder Ryan Soroka is also an 8th Wonder partner -- while the brewery has become a cornerstone of the EaDo Pub Crawl, and hosts Dynamo tailgating parties including for Saturday's match against Seattle.
Saint Arnold: 2000 Lyons Ave., 713-686-9494, saintarnold.com
8th Wonder: 2202 Dallas, 713-229-0868, 8thwonderbrew.com
9. HOME PLATE BAR & GRILL Before, after and even during Astros games, Home Plate Bar & Grill is a bustling establishment and a great spot for pregaming. Home Plate's prices are dirt-cheap compared to those inside the ballpark, and the staff is accommodating, especially on gameday, as is to be expected.
It's a no-frills kind of establishment, but if you're a 'Stros fan, you probably aren't looking for anything too fancy anyway. Just good, cold beer to make the games bearable. Only kidding... kind of.
1800 Texas #100, 713-222-9977, homeplategrill.com
8. GROOVES OF HOUSTON Be it artists crooning R&B, filling the venue with smooth jazz or causing everyone inside to laugh uncontrollably, Grooves offers a little of something for everyone. VIP rooms are available for reservation, and lines regularly form outside.
Be mindful of the dress code though, so don't show up in baggy jeans and a T-shirt. On-site is a full kitchen, so feel free to come hungry. Or, at the very least, order something to soak up all the alcohol you'll undoubtedly indulge yourself.
2300 Pierce, 713-652-9900, houstongrooves.com
The list continues on the next page.
7. MOJEAUX'S LOUISIANA DRINKERY Really, why have a wine bar when you can have somewhere it's Mardi Gras all the time? That must be what the people behind Cork Soakers were thinking when they converted the wine bar into this Lousiana-themed room. (Thanks to reader @kylejack for the heads-up, too.) Now to go along with some bayou bites, Mojeaux's offers swampy cocktails like Hurricanes, Cajun Coolers, Geaux-Geaux Juice (for all you LSU fans) and the intimidating-sounding "Swamp Pyrat." But if you must have wine, they've got plenty of that too.
2024 Rusk, 713-222-2675, 713-222-6656, mojeauxsld.com
7. CORK SOAKERS WINE BAR Awesome happy hour specials, half-barrels covering the wall lights and a relaxed, low-key atmosphere are just icing on the cake for this wine dive. The service is attentive, and there are plenty of comfortable leather chairs and couches on which you can lounge while you sip your wine of choice.
Rumor has it that establishment's name is derived from that SNL skit from a few years back. If you haven't seen it, just say it aloud a few times, and you'll get it.
2024 Rusk, 713-222-2675, corksoakershouston.com
6. MEDEL'S ICEHOUSE Medel's is an in-the-know dive, down to the bone. It's is the kind of place where, if you aren't already a regular (which you probably aren't), you'll get noticed as soon as you walk inside. Akin to a Bud Light commercia,l though, you'll be rubbing shoulders and laughing it up with your new pals by the end of the night.
The drinks are cheap and cold, and the jukebox is rife with old country-western hits. So put on a classic, grab a cold one and take it easy. If they're selling popcorn outside, grab some of that too.
3509 Harrisburg Blvd., 713-237-8930, Facebook page
5. LUCKY'S PUB Just next door to one of the most well-rounded music venue in town (Warehouse Live), Lucky's offers a strong beer selection, fair prices and room to spare. Pregame concerts and sporting events or, when it's an away game, show your support for the home team alongside plenty of other adoring fans.
While you're there, grab a pizza or some wings off their full menu. It's bar food, but it's solid.
801 St Emanuel, 713-522-2010, Web site
4. LITTLE WOODROW'S EAST END Nightly drink specials and an abundant supply of beers on tap, many of which are local choices, will keep your whistle wet as you wander around Little Woodrow's' East end offering.
The environment is comparable to the establishment's other locations around town, relaxed around happy hour and prone to getting livelier and livelier as the night wears on. Every Tuesday, join Geeks Who Drink for some nerdy trivia.
2019 Walker, 713-222-2224, Web site
The list continues on the next page.
3. D&W LOUNGE On the outskirts of the warehouse district, this cash-only, beer-and-wine dive has been a local favorite since we can remember. It could have to do with its 60-plus years of history, or it may just be the cheap, cold-as-ass beer.
However you slice it, karaoke is always a hit. But if you'd prefer, there's a nice patio to enjoy too. Weeknights are low-key, but bring them dancing shoes if it's a Friday or Saturday.
911 Milby, 713-226-8777, Facebook page
2. MOON TOWER INN Gourmet hotdogs served in pretzel buns pair perfectly with whatever kind of beer you feel like drinking at the Moon Tower. The patio seating, which is the only seating on-site, is plentiful. The open-air setup is big enough to accommodate large groups of friends or give you plenty of space if you'd prefer to drink in peace.
One thing, though: watch the attitude, because you'll be charged extra for getting too lippy.
3004 Canal, Facebook page
1. BOHEMEO'S A jack of almost all entertainment trades, Bohemeo's is part local coffee shop, part live music venue and part bar. Though it's been a well-known establishment for years, it changed ownership ownership last spring. Lucky for Houstonians, Bohemeo's changed hands to two well-respected, reputable businessmen who decided to put an emphasis on local and craft beers. So if you haven't been by in a while, it's worth revisiting, both for what you previously loved and for the changes.
708 Telephone Rd., 713-923-4277, bohemeos.com
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