Valhalla

The periodic table painted on the wall should tip you off that this is a haven for grad students, of both the perpetual and temporary varieties. Eggheads hunker down here in this dungeonlike basement pub beneath the old chemistry building at Rice, and what keeps them coming back is perhaps the cheapest beer in town. (Volunteer bar staff help keep prices low.) Then there's the conversation: You can scour the country far and wide, but you would be hard-pressed to find a bar with a brainier clientele. And don't let the warlike name fool you since geeks are more likely to find paradise here than any deceased Viking warrior. The booze sticks to wine and beer only here, meaning you have venture into the real world for the hard stuff.

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