Houston, we know you're hurting out there. As severance packages dry up and real-estate prices crumble, the pain of the oil crisis trickles down to us all. Let's stop lying to ourselves with over-iced cocktails at Anvil and admit a universal truth: We're broke. Really broke, y'all.
But being financially challenged is no reason to keep you from enjoying your Friday night — or hell, your not-working Tuesday afternoon. When the going gets tough, the tough get drinking. Below you'll find ten establishments that will help you weather the economic storm with cheap beer, free food and friendly faces.
Many a memorable night has been spent at Boondocks. But many a hazy, forgotten night has been spent at Boondocks, too. What this bar lacks in cleanliness it makes up for in cheap drink specials, dance nights packed to the gills and surprise bar fighting. Free shows abound at Boon's, and if you get there before 8 p.m., you can treat yourself to $2 wells. Head there on Sunday to embrace a beloved pastime of cash-strapped Houstonians: Boonsday Sundays, which feature free barbecue, a DJ and drink specials all night long. (1417 Westheimer, facebook.com/boondockshtx)
9. LOLA'S DEPOT
You might call Lola's a bar that time forgot, but it's better to say that Lola's is a bar where time collapses. Located in a sign-less, nondescript building off of a Montrose side street, Lola's maintains itself as an archaeological dig site of its decades-long history in Houston. However, the layers upon layers of graffiti found here and the one-of-a-kind bar flies are all just window dressing for the main draw: the cheapest, stiffest drinks in Houston. Be sure to grab a snack at the nearby Belly Up food truck: If you're drinking at Lola's, you're going to need it (and you'll be able to afford it!). (2327 Grant, Facebook page)
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A delightfully dank bar located on the Westheimer strip, Catbirds is the perfect place to go to escape financial sorrows. You can distract yourself with nightly trivia, down $3 wells from 3 to 8 p.m. and try to survive off of the club's free popcorn. The bar is well known for its jazz music, with a rotating band of musicians playing live on Saturday nights. A bevy of food trucks, including Bop Bowl, The Lucky Fig and The Turkey Shack and More, post up in front of Catbirds, just in case the cheap drinks loosen up your wallet. (1336 Westheimer, catbirds.com)
This Rice University graduate-student bar has near-mythical prices: Lone Star drafts will run you only about 95 cents, and other beers top out at around $3.50 or so. While the university doesn't advertise it, you don't actually have to spend five to ten years of your life on a Ph.D. in order to enjoy a brew in Valhalla's musty confines. If you come at lunchtime, the bar also sells Les Givrals sandwiches at rock-bottom prices. Be sure to leave your tie at home, and take comfort in the fact that Rice graduate students are far worse off financially than you are. (6100 Main, valhalla.rice.edu)
6. WARREN'S INN
As downtown slowly drowns in a flood of bourgie cocktail bars, one bar levies against the tide: Warren's Inn. Warren's is a Houston institution, its glowing neon sign a beacon of hope for those who have had a hard week and just want a damn drink already. While Warren's might not have the absolute cheapest drinks around, these simple cocktails have a well-earned reputation for packing a wallop. Pair that with the bar's legendary jukebox, and you've got a night tailor-made to float you through hard times. Even if life's got you down, you'll be sitting in the catbird seat at Warren's (literally). (307 Travis, warrensinn.biz)
5. ALICE'S TALL TEXAN DRIVE INN
Alice's has only two beers on tap — Shiner and Lone Star — but when you're broke, those are the only two beers you need. For a mere $2.50, you can get 18 ounces of these beloved Texas beers served to you in a schooner glass kept ice cold in the freezer. The bar is infamously friendly; you'll likely find plenty of folks to share your troubles with. Bring cash, wear sleeves and scrounge up a dollar or two to play some country on the jukebox. (4904 North Main, Facebook page)
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4. ROSE GARDEN
Like a lot of other places on this list, Rose Garden will sell you a Lone Star for two bucks. But that's not the only reason to seek out this charming, secluded gem of a bar. Drinking at Rose Garden makes you feel like you're drinking in the comfort of your own backyard. The back patio lined with Christmas lights and the well-kept rose bushes makes you feel right at home. If a recent layoff has got you blue and you've been reluctant to venture out of your apartment, Rose Garden should be your first stop. (2621 Link, Facebook page)
3. SAINT DANE'S BAR AND GRILLE
Not a day goes by at Saint Dane's without a food special. Whether it's $10 steak night, 50-cent wing night, or the popular $1 Taco Tuesdays, this Midtown bar is always serving up something to keep Houston fed on the cheap. Bring along some of your broke-ass friends so you can all avail yourselves of the $7 domestic pitcher specials. If you bike in, Saint Dane's will give you 20 percent off of your tab. A warning: Taco Tuesday and some other daily specials come with a two-drink minimum, but hey, you don't have to get up for work in the morning — drink up! (502 Elgin, saintdanes.com)
2. SATELLITE BAR
Satellite Bar is quickly becoming one of our favorite music venues, but that's not just because of its great music. The bar has more than 50 beers available at any given time, running all-night happy hours on Texas brews (the way God intended for it to be) and $2.50 specials on tallboys. When shows aren't free, the cover is cheap, with enough bands on the lineup to give you your money's worth. Eat your heart out, House of Blues: We're never paying your ridiculous drink prices again. (6922 Harrisburg, satellitehtx.com)
1. MENIL PARK
Okay, fine. Menil Park isn't a bar per se, but there's a good chance that someone is going to be there with alcohol. And there's also a good chance that somebody will be nice enough to share with you, because that's the kind of place Menil Park is. So bike on over, bring a hula hoop or ukelele and make friends with somebody sitting next to a cooler. Or be a mensch and pick up a case of Shiner to share; you can write it off on your taxes as a networking expense. (1450 Branard, menil.org)