Best of Houston® 2021

Best Of Houston® 2021: Best Dive Bar

The place for one last, inexpensive drink before your flight lifts off
The place for one last, inexpensive drink before your flight lifts off Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Best Dive Bar:  Hoot County Saloon

If we’ve learned anything from reading those Bukowski books it’s that dive bars are places to hook up and Hoot County Saloon has surely facilitated more “connections” than Terminal C right down the road. It’s station at the end of IAH’s hotel row makes it an opportune place for passing strangers to find cheap thrills over cheap drinks. It’s not the only element that gives the place its dive vibe, though. Dim lighting, pool table, dart boards, video poker: check. Nearly ‘round-the-clock operating hours and a TouchTunes jukebox cranked to airplane-decibel levels: check.  Interesting conversations upon which to eavesdrop: check.

Visitors staying in nearby Hiltons and Sheratons can get a taste of home from the diverse restaurants in the shared strip center, especially if they’re from China, India, the Mediterranean, Pakistan or Louisiana. They can bring to-go orders into the bar, where they’ll get a little local charm from the décor. A covered wagon, a rocket ship, more representations of the Texas flag than you’ll find at the state capitol, a saloon-worthy piano (with sheet music!) and not one but two imitation horses to climb upon (one coin-operated!) weirdly give the space a sense of cohesion.

Hoot County Saloon may be an odd choice since it’s not only outside the Loop but literally on the way out of town. But, anyone who wouldn’t consider it a Houston treasure is someone rich enough to afford airport pricing or just doesn’t need a drink to tame the fear of flying. It’s one of last places near Bush IAH to get a reasonably-priced libation before boarding call. If the mood gets too Bukowskian, just take your drink to the bar’s serene back patio and watch deer frolic in a neighboring field while airplanes zoom overhead.

15655 John F Kennedy Blvd, Houston
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