Bayou City

Houston’s 10 Best Ice Houses

As they're recognized today, ice houses represent a uniquely Houston experience. Many have gone by the wayside in recent years, particularly those that focused almost exclusively on selling ice, but a number of those that remain have become local landmarks of a sort. A few have even sprouted up in and around the area in recent years, albeit more in the business of selling beer and less in the business of shilling ice. Point being, with summer ever so slowly drawing to a close, ice houses are a great way to spend a hot afternoon in the Bayou City. Here are Houston’s ten best local ice houses.

One of Houston’s quintessential dive bars, and one of its finest ice houses, Catty Corner is a favorite among locals in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area. The joint is populated by regulars but will often play host to visitors, particularly after nearby Crowbar closes at midnight on weekdays. Free pool is a draw here, as is cheap beer. Once upon a time, the novelty of Catty Corner lay in part with its outdoor promo sign, which was dated (to put it kindly) and rarely updated. Of course, the owners have since installed a new sign – one that updates frequently - making Catty Corner a slightly more upscale dive bar than in years past. (895 Wakefield,

Tucked away just off Washington Avenue, but away from the hustle and bustle of that particular scene, is fitting for Luke’s; it's about as laid-back as a bar can get. The patio is spacious and features picnic tables and sports on a number of TVs, while the indoor offers a full bar and even a few couches. Play a little cornhole, maybe watch some dodgeball (while in-season on Mondays) and enjoy such specials as $10 chicken-fried steak on Monday, $2 tacos on Tuesday and 2-for-1 burgers on Thursdays. Luke’s is also kid- and dog-friendly. (903 Durham,

If you’re looking for a stereotypical ice house crowd – one populated by bikers and tough guys alike – you may want to look elsewhere; Red River Ice House tends to play host to those that live and work in and around the Medical Center, as well as those looking for a little concert/sports pregaming before a big event at NRG Stadium. Whatever the makeup of the crowd, Red River serves up beer, wine, liquor, and pizzas – and occasionally something from the grill. The Internet jukebox keeps things bumping, and Red River even hosts live music from time to time. (10308 Main,

A number of inner-loop bars cater to the young and hip crowd, a mix of young professionals and industry types looking to mingle with fellow revelers at any number of area bars. Buffalo Fred’s is NOT one of those bars. Tucked just inside 610, Buffalo Fred’s is a family-run joint that caters to a number of locals who have populated the Heights staple for years, not to mention the area bikers who basically call the place home. Buffalo Fred’s caters to its clientele by offering such traditions as Wednesday steak night, barbecue cook-offs and crawfish boils during the season. (2708 N. Shepherd,

Located in the Energy Corridor, Big John’s plays host to a large number of regulars who come for weekly events such as trivia, steak night, live music, and even a friendly game of ping-pong. The bar serves up solid bar food, including such favorites as the South of the Border Burger, steak and shrimp, and grilled pork chops. Big John's even hosts special events on occasion, including a crock-pot cookoff earlier this year, with proceeds benefiting Friends for Life Animal Shelter & Sanctuary. (12640 Briar Forest,

Okay, so the recent decision to up its minimum age requirement from 21 to 23 was a tad askew, but it’s time to move on and recognize Kirby Ice House for what it is — one of the best new bars in Houston. The patio is spacious, and will make for some fine football-watching once the weather cools down a bit. Plus, it’s dog-friendly, has chairs aplenty and even features a food truck on-site. Kirby Ice House has really made a mark on locals by hosting a number of events since opening earlier this year, including a pig roast/luau, crawfish boils and beer tastings. (3333 Eastside,

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Clint Hale enjoys music and writing, so that kinda works out. He likes small dogs and the Dallas Cowboys, as you can probably tell. Clint has been writing for the Houston Press since April 2016.
Contact: Clint Hale