Night Life

Club Directory

Aaron Michaels 930 FM 518, Kemah, 281-334-3610.

Absinthe If you think youll be able to quaff a couple of the notorious green fairies of van Gogh and Gauguin infamy before painting your masterpiece, youve got another drink coming. No, theres no absinthe here, but there are plenty of other spirits to get you going. Housed in a former wash-and-fold launderette, this hard-to-locate brasserie is the picture of civility. An older, docile crowd inhabits this roomy, albeit occasionally packed venue. Surprisingly excellent homemade pizzas serve as a nice respite from the usual bar fare, and the clean tile floors and a tasteful decor add a touch of class to a ramshackle stretch of lower Richmond. 609 Richmond, 713-528-7575.

Acadia Louisiana Bar 3939 FM 1960 W., 281-893-2860.

Agora A pocketful of dollar bills would serve you well here on a Wednesday night, when this usually relatively tame coffeehouse/bar opens up into a belly-dancing arena, complete with onlookers from all walks of life. As befits its name, Agora's overall theme is distinctly Greek, but what has made it work is the clash (friendly, mind you) of cultures that forces the place to so often elude definition. At night, the scholarly atmosphere that prevails by day turns boozy, yet the boozers and the perusers get along fabulously. 1712 Westheimer, 713-526-7212.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema The idea is staggeringly simple. First, get your hands on a regular six-theater mall cineplex. Then remove every other row of seats and replace them with tables. Scatter the tables liberally with menus featuring a wide variety of tasty food and drink. Next, book a constant lineup of current Hollywood offerings, sprinkling in the odd revival and theme night. What you end up with is the ultimate date setup: dinner, drinks and a movie simultaneously. And no need to come up with any of that pesky conversation. 1000 West Oaks Mall, 281-556-0204.

Als Sports Bar The name pretty much says it all. A mind-blowing 15-foot TV screen ensures you wont miss any of the heavy broadcast-event action (even if part of you wouldnt mind), and a selection of big-game video concessions leaves no shortage of chances to sort out the alphas from the betas theres even one of those plush-animal-grabbing machines so you dont lose touch with your softer side. Add the fact of Wednesday-night karaoke and live bands on weekends and youve got a recipe for F-U-N. Oh, yeah, and theres beer. 16203 Westheimer, No. 102, 281-493-9797.

Als Sports Bar No. 2 3838 S. Dairy Ashford, 281-493-3838.

Anderson Fair This may not have been the first club on the Houston folk scene, but Anderson Fair has endured to become the mother church. Way back when, former locals Lucinda Williams, Eric Taylor and Nanci Griffith cut their teeth on the stage over the famous red brick floor, and there you can still catch aspirants to their thrones along with touring stalwarts amid a radical '70s vibe. A tiny kitchen dishes out mean quesadillas, while a small adjacent library serves up food for the mind. (No smoking; beer and wine only.) 2007 Grant, 713-528-8576.

Ashburys 60s Bar 4608 FM 1960 W., 281-895-0884.

The Axiom When the Axiom first opened 15 years ago, the only toilet was in the middle of the dance floor, and if you looked up in certain places, you could see stars. Now, after changing names several times, the joint has been fully renovated by underground drama group Infernal Bridegroom Productions and serves as both their theater and the punk/indie rock club it once was. Drinks are cheap and the clientele ranges from slacker to artsy. 2524 McKinney, 713-522-8443.

Azteca's This multilevel Mexican restaurant at the crossroads of the Montrose area and Greenway/River Oaks is quickly becoming Houston's premier venue for Spanish alternative music. Rocenrol, tango, techno, hip-hop, salsa and pretty much anything that can be infused with a lil' Latin influence are showcased here on a nightly basis. The crowd reflects the venue's eclectic vibe, and the energy level is always high. 2207 Richmond, 713-526-1702.

The Balinese Room Though cheesy trinkets are now plunked in the gift shop that fronts this over-the-water pleasure palace on the seawall, the newly renovated Balinese still exudes the roguish Rat Pack vibe that once made it the most popular illicit gambling palace in Texas. During its Eisenhower-era heyday, everyone from Duke Ellington to the Chairman of the Board played the club's bamboo-walled South Seas Ballroom, which has been painstakingly restored and includes the original murals and art deco black neon palm trees. You can still catch live music there, albeit today of the modern rock, pop and jazz varieties, with the occasional Vegas-style celebrity impersonator thrown in for history's sake. If you're a true Texan, you'll hum ZZ Top's ode to the joint as you take the stroll back toward the ballroom. 2107 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 409-762-9696.

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