West Alabama Ice House is holding steady, and that's a good thing.
West Alabama Ice House is holding steady, and that's a good thing.
Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.

Best of Houston® 2019: Ice House — West Alabama Ice House

Best Ice House: West Alabama Ice House

The New York Times came to Houston to write a story about Texas ice houses vanishing “like frosty beer on a warm afternoon.” They reported from West Alabama Ice House to see if that venerable watering hole, known and beloved by generations of Houstonians, might be vulnerable to the changing times.

That story ran in 1998. Not only is the gathering spot still standing 20 years on, it’s as popular as ever, still drawing a diverse crowd from the neighborhood and beyond. In nearly 100 years (just 10 shy) of existence, the ice house has witnessed hook-ups and break ups. It’s hosted family and class reunions. Folks have followed the Houston Rockets on its scattered TVs or pretended to be Harden, Hakeem or Hayes when shooting hoops on a lone basketball goal in its massive yard.

Whatever the occasion, people choose to mark it at this landmark because it’s familiar. That long-ago Times article quoted then-customers who talked about its unchanged perfection. The usual accoutrements are in place: a pool table, dart boards, eats from a wandering tamale vendor or Tacos Tierra Caliente, just across the street. And whether it’s business or pleasure that has brought someone to its confines, beer has been consumed in historical amounts here, nearly a century of downpours that would make Hurricane Harvey (that bastard) seem like a spring shower.

1919 West Alabama, Houston

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