A tried-and-true tradition for college students has been venturing out to the local coffee shop in an effort to get out of the house or library for a few minutes. This is all well and good; coffee shops make for great post-up spots for those looking to get a little studying done while venturing out among the people.
So do bars. Fortunately, Houston doesn’t lack for options when it comes to bars perfectly suited for undergrads and graduate students alike looking to bang out some work while knocking down a couple of drinks.
Boheme is the perfect bar for those seeking out the middle ground between studying in library-like silence and Midtown-like revelry. The bar is lively but in an understated way, making it an ideal place to post up with your laptop or textbook. Re-energize with one of Boheme’s famous homemade pizzas, and calm the nerves with an array of beer, wine and craft cocktails. (307 Fairview, barboheme.com)
9. DOWN HOUSE
The name isn’t misleading; this Heights-area brunch favorite really does feel like home. That includes quaint table seating, a nice patio and, most important, couches and coffee tables, which make for ideal study locales. Down House also features some of the city’s best bar food, and cocktail favorites like the Old Old Fashioned and Big Ol’ Bloody Mary make for nice study breaks. (1801 Yale, treadsack.com/downhouse)
8. LEI LOW
As is true for Down House, it’s all right there in Lei Low’s name; this place is tailor-made for those looking to get out of the house while avoiding the hustle and bustle that often accompanies area bars. The friendly bar staff serves up any number of tropical drinks, and the tropical theme will help you envision the vacation you can take once you actually finish school and can afford it. (6412 North Main, leilowhtx.com)
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7. PORCH SWING PUB
Of all the places to get together with a study group and post up for a while, few area bars can compete with Porch Swing. On a nice afternoon in Houston – don’t worry, we’ll get one here in the next couple of months – study groups can sit on the front patio and enjoy $11.50 domestic pitchers every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Plus, Porch Swing is home to 35-cent wings on Mondays, making it ideal for penny-pinching college students. (69 Heights, porchswingpub.com)
6. WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE
It’s no accident that this Houston institution pops up on any number of Houston Press bar lists; West Alabama offers a little something for everyone, students included. Once the weather dips into the 80s, West Alabama ranks among the best bars in the city to bring the laptop, tablet and textbooks and get to work. The beer is cheap, the Wi-Fi is free and the bar is pet-friendly, so bring your four-legged study companion along as well. (1919 West Alabama, facebook.com/walabama)
5. CEDAR CREEK
Any of Houston’s area Creek restaurants (Canyon, Onion, Dry) make for ideal social study quarters, but Cedar gets the edge based on its expansive patio and ample indoor space. That makes for quality studying no matter the season. The food is good, the Frozen Moons are on point, and free Wi-Fi is a plus for students tethered to their laptops and tablets. (1034 West 20th, cedarcreekcafe.com)
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4. THE CELLAR
This neighborhood bar is a favorite among St. Thomas students (the university is only a couple of miles away). Some students come to study, others come to blow off steam and others simply come to fully immerse themselves in the college experience. The Cellar also caters to college students on a budget; it offers free pool Sunday-Tuesday, daily happy-hour specials and free bar games on Fridays. (3140 Richmond, thecellarbar.org)
This one’s a little inside-baseball, in that Valhalla caters almost exclusively to Rice graduate students. Not only that, it’s predominantly staffed by Rice graduate students and alumni volunteers. Valhalla has been going strong for more than four decades, and all these years later still caters to students looking to get in some non-library studying. It also caters to students on a budget; Valhalla serves up $1 12-ounce drafts. (6100 South Main, valhalla.rice.edu)
2. THE DEN
Buzz is brewing at U of H over the Cougars’ football prospects; what better place to watch the team play than the unofficial campus bar? For nearly a decade, the Den has provided U of H students a place to socialize and study. Cost-conscious students can enjoy daily drink specials, and Wednesday-night trivia stimulates the mind in a far more interesting way than that economics class. (4835 Calhoun, uhdenbar.com)
1. THE BLACK LABRADOR
Proximity is key, and no spot is better located for Houston college students than the Black Lab. The bar, which serves up authentic English food and drinks, is only two miles from Rice, three miles from U of H, less than three miles from Texas Southern University and less than one-half mile from St. Thomas. The Black Lab’s casual-yet-conversational vibe only contributes to its study-friendly atmosphere, whether you're solo or with a group of fellow coeds. Plus, free Wi-Fi and giant Chess! (4100 Montrose, #8, blacklabradorpub.com)