Houston was given the popular nickname H-Town some time ago, and the name has resonated within our city and beyond; the term seems to have originated in Houston's hip-hop and rap community, from what we can nail down. An R&B group known as H-Town that formed in 1991 is from Houston; the H-Town Blues Festival is an annual event whose ninth edition was held earlier this month at NRG Arena.
Thinking of the name H-Town got us to thinking of the concept of "H-Bars;" basically bars in the city of Houston whose names start with the letter H that are cool and embody the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that our city is known for. If this sounds a little silly to you, remember this is all meant in good fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously, though these bars will show you a seriously good time.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
HANS' BIER HAUS Located in Rice Village, Hans' Bier Haus is one of Houston's great beer bars, with a large and ever-changing selection of draft brews on tap. The inside of the bar has some darts for your amusement as well as the occasional beer pong game; check out some of the interesting art hanging on the walls as well. The main attraction here, however, is the outdoors, where the covered beer garden/patio is both dog-friendly and contains both a bean-bag toss/cornhole game and a Bocce Ball court, somewhat rare in Houston. Hans' holds several events here every week, like karaoke, open-mike night and trivia to keep things fun for the loyal patrons.
2523 Quenby, hansbierhaus.com
HAROLD'S RESTAURANT & BAR Owner Alli Jarrett has transformed the 90-year-old building that was home to the legendary Harold's men's clothing store in the Heights into Harold's Restaurant & Bar, Heights General Store and Alli's Pizzeria. An old flat-top roof has been converted into a bar and a terrace that offers up a great view for watching the people and shops down below; New Orleans native and Executive Chef Antoine Ware serves a seasonal menu of Southern Creole food prepared with local, fresh, natural items. For your drinking pleasure, local and regional beers are on tap, as well as specialty cocktails including favorites the Harold's Gimlet and Apricot Manhattan.
350 W. 19th, haroldsheights.com
THE HARP The Harp calls itself "Houston's Friendliest Irish Pub"; a bold statement, but we have always had a great time at this bar on lower Richmond, and the people we have encountered have always been cool, so we can't argue with the claim too much. Tuesday-night trivia and Wednesday-night league darts are always fun, or just come out and relax out on the spacious patio out front or on a comfy couch inside while enjoying an adult beverage. Another groovy thing about The Harp is that it's open 365 days a year; the Web site says they even stay open when it floods. Though we don't recommend trying to drive your car through deep waters to get there, if you can walk or swim over safely during the next Houston rain event, go for it.
1625 Richmond, theharphouston.com
HARRISBURG COUNTRY CLUB This East End dive bar/icehouse existed way before the term EaDo did; the new METRORail expansion down Harrisburg just might introduce Harrisburg Country Club to a whole new generation of dive-bar aficionados. Harrisburg is the kind of place where the blue-collar regulars drink Bud Lights in koozies while wearing trucker hats without any sense of irony; the old jukebox full of classic country, Tejano and hip-hop was cranked up loud the last time we visited. Harrisburg is also popular because of the burgers, chicken-fried steaks, onion rings, tater tots and other fried foods; many of the regulars dine in or get the food to go after a long day of beer-drinking and pool-playing here.
3618 Harrisburg, facebook.com /Harrisburg-Country-Club
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HAWG STOP This biker bar/open-air icehouse out in Northeast Houston is a place to show off your bike, drink some beer, eat some barbecue and listen to some live music; classic rockers Bad Company even played here once. You can even drive out here in your minivan if you have to; the regulars won't laugh at you too much, as they are friendly people and don't fit any outlaw stereotypes from old biker movies.
You do see a lot of guys dressed in black Harley Davidson T-shirts, bandannas and jeans; there is also no shortage of pretty blonde women who seem to be into these kinds of dudes. Hawg Stop opens early every day at 10 a.m., so hit the road early for a trip out there if you are so inclined.
11335 Sheldon, hawgstop.com
THE HAY MERCHANT The Hay Merchant is the place to visit for beer lovers in Montrose; after gazing upon the long wall of taps behind the bar and perusing the huge selection of craft brews on the menu, you will be astounded and feel like you have died and gone to Beer Heaven. Just don't ask for some generic domestic beer, because they don't sell it and might not be shy of informing you why they consider it to be "watered-down crap."
But no need to worry; the staff here is very friendly and informative, and will help anyone pick out the right beer, regardless of their level of beer expertise or lack thereof. The food at the Merchant is impressive as well, and some of the items are unusual; the sweet spicy pig ears are surprisingly quite tasty.
1100 Westheimer, haymerchant.com
HEARSAY GASTRO LOUNGE Located in the historic W. L. Foley Building that was built in 1889, Hearsay Gastro Lounge is near the Theater District and makes for a nice destination before or after an event there. The upscale food items like the Hearsay Burger or the Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos are reasonably priced and won't break your wallet.
The ambiance of the lounge, with its exposed brick walls, high ceilings and chandelier, adds to the value of a visit here even more. Hearsay also has an extensive craft cocktails and beer menu, and has recently opened up a second location near Discovery Green with an equally nice aesthetic, along with some different menu items.
218 Travis, hearsayhouston.com
THE HIDEAWAY ON DUNVALE Located in an old building that used to be a church, The Hideaway on Dunvale is home to live rock and blues music, most notably the weekly Big Ass Blues Jam hosted by Rick Lee & the Night Owls every Tuesday starting at 9:30 p.m. Many great local blues musicians show up to jam with Lee, who gets things started with his impressive guitar playing, singing and over-the-top showmanship; often playing his guitar with the leg of a chair he has picked up, a beer bottle and even his tongue. Don't expect Lee to stand still onstage; in fact he often jumps off to go for a walk around the bar during a performance and hops up on patrons' tables as well. Tuesdays are also Steak Night, and there is never a cover; take a trip out there, you'll be glad you did.
3122 Dunvale, hideawayondunvale.com
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THE HONEYMOON CAFÉ & BAR The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar downtown delivers good coffee and specialty craft cocktails, as well as being a spot to grab some breakfast, lunch and dinner. You could conceivably eat all of your meals here one day and drink away until closing time if you were so inclined.
On Saturdays and Sundays a brunch is served as well; soft scrambled eggs on rye or smoked salmon can be washed down with a Bloody Mary or Passion Fruit Mimosa, among other tasty choices. Honeymoon is one of the great places downtown to people-watch, as its location at the corner of Main and Congress can provide a view of downtown office workers, party people and musical street performers coming and going, depending on what time you visit.
300 Main, thehoneymoonhtx.com
HUNTER'S PUB This Southwest Houston/Meyerland neighborhood dive bar is located in a strip mall and is home to friendly power-drinkers and regulars who might play an occasional game of pool or shuffleboard in between their drinking sessions. When we last visited, the place had not been overrun by hipsters yet; the crowd tends to be slightly older during the day shift with younger people coming in as night falls, as is the norm in many classic Houston neighborhood bars. Hunter's Pub has a large patio for smokers out back; on Thursdays steaks are cooked out there, and a baked potato with fixings is included with your purchase.
10549 S. Post Oak, plus.google.com/Hunter's Pub
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