Best of Houston® 2023

Best Of Houston® 2023: Best Bar - River Oaks

Marfreless chooses whispers and tells over whistles and bells
Marfreless chooses whispers and tells over whistles and bells Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Best Bar - River Oaks: Marfreless

Some bars need loud sound systems or flashing lights to make their mark but Marfreless, the iconic River Oaks cocktail bar, doesn’t even need a sign. Because the speakeasy has been around for decades, those in the know simply head for the blue door and all the shadowy, hushed fun beyond it. And the fun beyond that door can prove rather interesting, depending upon the particular appetites of the patrons.

Start with the drinks, the obvious reasons to saunter into any bar, and they’re strong but well-mixed and served from a long downstairs bar in an elegant lounge area. This is the space built for quiet conversation, your run of the mill, sloughing off the workday chat, let’s say. But Marfreless gained its reputation by what happens up the staircase. A “Couples Only” sign taped to a wall at the bottom of the stairs isn’t just a rule, it’s a sexy invitation to a world of cozy possibility. We’ll leave a little to the imagination, readers, but words like “make-out bar,” “touchy feely” and “upside-down pineapples” have long been attached to the establishment and it’s fun to walk hand-in-hand (or, hand-in-hand-in-hand-in-hand, if you’re into it) up those stairs to listen for - or create - a little fun, consensual naughtiness.

2600 Peden
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