Well, Houston is about to be the epicenter of the sports universe. In advance of the upcoming big game, thousands upon thousands of out-of-towners are going to descend upon the Bayou City for a week of parties, concerts, fan events and, of course, the biggest sporting event in America. They will pack hotels and local restaurants and try to make some use of the light rail, which was kinda built for this game when it first took place at NRG Stadium 13 years ago.
In addition to coming to town to support their favorite team, or even just to be a part of sports history, many of these folks will also use their visit as an opportunity to get to know a new city. And because Super Bowl week is meant for revelry, these out-of-towners will likely be looking to do so by checking out some of our city’s favorite icehouses, watering holes, nightclubs and any other place where spirits are served and good times can be had.
So, welcome and howdy to you non-Houstonians. These are the ten bars that best personify our city.
Downtown Houston is basically going to be Super Bowl central, which is nice, considering its bar scene has really exploded in recent years. The best way to describe Notsuoh (Houston spelled backwards) is as a weird, hip little dive bar. Some dive bars in and around our city are just that, run-down joints that cater to regulars and do it well. Notsuoh, meanwhile, has an artier vibe and certainly offers a wide array of clientele. But the live music (often free) is on point and the drinks are cheap; Notsuoh embodies all that’s right with Houston, and it’s not just in the name. (314 Main, notsuoh.com)
9. OKRA CHARITY SALOON
OKRA Charity Saloon
Speaking of downtown, architecture buffs and charitable types will enjoy their time at OKRA. For starters, the building – open, airy, spacious and soaked with natural light – is the crown jewel of downtown Houston bars. Second, all of the proceeds generated from drink sales go to any number of local charities and nonprofits. Organizations that have benefited from OKRA’s generosity include Rescued Pets Movement, the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Project Autism. (924 Congress, friedokra.org)
8. 3RD FLOOR/IRISH COWBOY/PUB FICTION
If you came to Houston to cut loose and party, you’d best find your way to Midtown. This part of town is reserved for weekend revelry, and no bars better personify this notion than the trio of 3rd Floor, Irish Cowboy and Pub Fiction. Irish Cowboy (the former Celtic Gardens) has undergone a major patio expansion, as has Pub Fiction, both of which make for ideal spaces to round up a large crew, hit the town, knock down some drinks and stay out until last call (which, for you non-Texas types, is 2 a.m.) (2303 Smith, 3rdfloorhouston.com/irishcowboy.com/pubfiction.com)
7. FIREHOUSE SALOON
No, most Houstonians don’t wear cowboy hats or ride their horses to work. That said, some stereotypical Texas qualities do exist here. Namely, Houston has a lot of really good honky-tonks and dance halls. Owned by firemen (hence the name), Firehouse Saloon has been serving up cold beer and country music for more than 20 years. (5930 Southwest Freeway, firehousesaloon.com)
Montrose is one of Houston’s oldest and most revered neighborhoods, and Rudyard’s is basically (as it bills itself) “Montrose’s living room.” The food specials rank among the most diverse in the city — one night is steak night, another is curry night, and don’t forget chicken burrito night — and the craft beer selection is vast. Plus, every night of the week features either live music, stand-up comedy or spoken-word performances, so Rudz is definitely a place to kick back and let someone else do the talking. (2010 Waugh, rudyardspub.com)
5. POISON GIRL
Another Montrose favorite, Poison Girl is the place to visit if you want to meet and talk with native Houstonians and those who call our city home. The bar caters to an array of clientele, young and old alike, and the whiskey selection is something special. Plus, the patio is legit, the pinball machines are fun and Poison Girl – located in the heart of Montrose – is within walking distance of various other local haunts. (1641 Westheimer Suite B, facebook.com/Poison-Girl-Cocktail-Lounge)