The original Heights neighborhood northwest of downtown dates back to 1891 and was actually a small town with its own government until the city of Houston annexed it in 1919; since then, Houstonians have come to refer to several neighborhoods bordering the original Heights as part of The Heights as well; these neighborhoods are also sometimes called the Greater Heights.
This list includes bars that are located in the original Heights and the Greater Heights as well; the Heights as a whole shows no sign of slowing down as it continues to attract new residents, many of whom are young urban professionals who can afford the ever-increasing real estate prices in the area. Whether you can afford to live in The Heights or not, we present you with this list of places worth checking out, many of which are historically and culturally significant and date back to a time before the current wave of gentrification in the area.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
ALICE'S TALL TEXAN DRIVE INN
Alice’s Tall Texan is probably best known for its longtime friendly patrons and 18-ounce Shiner and Lone Star beers served in giant fishbowl-shaped goblets; contrary to popular belief, however, Alice’s also serves a number of other domestic beers in bottles as well as a handful of Mexican imports and Gallo wines, and setups are also available if you'd prefer to bring in your own bottle of liquor. The old jukebox packed with classic country favorites for many years has been replaced with an Internet model; fortunately, many of the regulars still play the old country favorites, while the Texan's large Hispanic clientele also can now play salsa, Tejano and norteño as well, which was not available on the old machine. (4904 N. Main, facebook.com/Alices-Tall-Texan)
BIG STAR BAR
Big Star Bar has a gigantic backyard patio full of picnic tables for hanging out, and dogs are welcome as well — the bar’s resident cat does not seem to mind. On select nights, a band can be found playing outside, and there are often burgers or hot dogs being cooked out on the grill. Inside there are cool checkerboard tiles on the floor and a curated jukebox that's full of good tunes; there's also some beat-up but comfortable furniture, red lights that provide atmosphere and a pool table if you need to burn off some energy. (1005 West 19th, bigstarbar.com)
The Corkscrew is a fun, energetic, yet laid-back wine bar and piano lounge that serves upscale bar food like thin-crust pizzas and Italian paninis; along with its eclectic wine selection, a full bar is available, as well as bottled and canned craft beers. Live music is played here every night of the week except on Sundays; the highlights are Friday and Saturday nights featuring resident band Nick Greer & the G's, who play an energetic mix of funk, blues, soul and hip-hop. (Nick tickles the ivories solo on Thursday nights.) History buffs take note: A door from the first speakeasy in The Heights is on display here, which dates back to the early 1900s. (1308 West 20th, houstoncorkscrew.com)
DAN ELECTRO'S GUITAR BAR
Dan Electro's Guitar Bar is a legendary Houston live-music venue that usually hosts local and regional musicians who play blues, country and varieties of rock and roots; the place actually used to sell guitars and other instruments, hence the name. The regular patrons here are warm and welcoming people, many of whom lived through the hippie era of the '60s and '70s (and others who wish they had) and are keeping the spirit of the times alive at Dan's. The large tropical backyard setting is one of the best patios in Houston, and a great place to hang out and make some new friends if you want to take a break from the music inside. (1031 East 24th, danelectrosguitarbar.com)
Located in a building that was once home to an A&P Grocery Store dating back to the 1920s and that features the original pressed-tin ceilings, as well as mica lamps and an oak bar, Darkhorse Tavern is a friendly neighborhood dive bar known for its great Bloody Marys. Regulars like to snack on the free popcorn while drinking some of the 12 local beers on tap; heated up frozen pizzas are available if you have more of an appetite. Board games, darts, pinball machines and a jukebox are available for entertainment, but the main draw is the relaxed atmosphere and the unpretentious crowd and bartenders. (2207 Washington, dhtavern.com)
Yes, it's true that Fitzgerald’s will be closing down for a month or so after the final Pegstar Concerts show at the venue next Saturday (August 29), which you can read more about here; from the sound of it, the planned changes for this legendary old Houston indie music venue might just make it better than ever. Open since 1977, Fitzgerald's is a Heights musical staple; throughout the decades, this two-story venue has been the place where many Houston teenagers and young people have ventured out to see their first concert on their own. So many great bands and artists have played at Fitzgerald's, from prominent national acts to local bands just starting out; we would love to see a list compiled of everyone who has. We are betting Houstonians will continue to see great bands play at Fitz for years to come. (2706 White Oak, fitzlivemusic.com)
JIMMY'S ICE HOUSE
Formerly known as Jimmie's Place and/or Jimmie’s Ice House, this longtime Heights icehouse across and down the street from Fitzgerald’s is just a great, laid-back, relaxing place to drink cheap Lone Star or Natural Light beers, chat with friends and play music on the jukebox; you can also catch a ballgame on one of the TVs if you're so inclined. Recently Jimmy's has added some craft beers, and every now and then a regular will bring in food to share; otherwise there are potato chips you can spend your money on if you get hungry. (2803 White Oak, facebook.com/Jimmys-Ice-House)
RE:HAB BAR ON THE BAYOU
Re:HAB Bar on the Bayou’s friendly owner, Grace Miller, is from Glasgow, Scotland, and has lived in Houston for 20 years; she calls it the “best city in America." Re:Hab is located on the banks of Little White Oak Bayou and features a large backyard with picnic tables, a big court for playing washers and a fire pit, along with friendly patrons, many of whom are musicians and artists. One of the very cool things about Re:Hab is the free live music that's performed several days each week; Wednesday is Honky Tonk Hump Night featuring The Mitch Jacobs Band, and Texas Johnny Boy plays regularly, often with blues legend Milton Hopkins, who played with B.B. King and other greats. Don’t forget to tip the musicians. (1658 Enid, rehabar.com)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
THE ROSE GARDEN
When you discover The Rose Garden, you feel like you're part of a secret club; this Polish-American bar is small inside and when you arrive, most likely everybody there will know everybody else, but at the same time, they're friendly and welcoming to newcomers. The Rose Garden is a basic Texas beer joint, with Lone Stars and other domestics the drinks of choice; a few small tables are scattered about, and a pool table and jukebox are provided for your entertainment needs. The jukebox is filled with lots of honky-tonk classics as well as classic rock and R&B, and amazingly it costs only 25 cents to play a song. The Rose Garden is aptly named; it's owned by a woman named Rose Marie and features a wooden deck out back lined with rose bushes. (2621 Link, facebook.com/Rose-Garden)
THE SPOT CLUB
This large dive bar located in a strip center allows enough space for meetups with lots of your friends; there's also a small patio out front on the concrete for when you need a smoke. The Spot Club hosts live bands and karaoke with the help of a stage in the corner, and there is a dance floor when you want to get your groove on; there are lots of small round tables with chairs in the club, which gives the place a bit of the look of a nightclub in Las Vegas in the 1970s – the place has character. The Spot is usually populated with enthusiastic regulars from the neighborhood lounging around the bar and chatting up the familiar bartenders. (1732 West 18th)