Houston's 10 Best Bars to Beat the Heat

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For the majority of the next few months, Houston – with its searing heat and soup-like humidity – is going to be pretty unbearable. That said, it’s summer, and summer is prime drinking time for those in and around the area. Many will simply brave the soaring temperatures and continue their patio season through the summer. Others, meanwhile, are looking to have a few drinks in temperature-controlled conditions. Fortunately, Houston doesn’t lack for options in either regard, least of all at these ten spots we think are the best.

Maple Leaf Pub boasts one of Houston's better indoor spaces, with plenty of room to escape the heat, knock down a few drinks and take in some bar games or sports on TV. Ironically enough, the National Hockey League — a league played on ice and one whose roots are based up north — finishes up its season just as the temperature is turning up in Houston, making Maple Leaf Pub (the best hockey bar in town) an ideal spot to escape the heat and watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (514 Elgin, themapleleafpub.com)

Refuge indeed, as Anvil ranks among the best bars in town for getting indoors and enjoying a classic cocktail. Routinely regarded among the best bars in the country by publications such as Esquire, Anvil serves up an array of craft cocktails, including summertime favorites such as the Backslide and the Roamin Holiday. The drinks are upscale, but the vibe is laid-back. (1424 Westheimer Ste. B, anvilhouston.com)

The Pastry War, which fuses the drinking culture of Mexico with French décor, was made for summer. That holds particularly true at happy hour, which runs weekdays from 4-6:30 p.m. and features specials on margaritas and Mexican beers. Plus, free pool! Those looking to dial it up a notch can indulge in summertime drinks like the Puma in Paradise, the Gringo Star or a house-made Michelada. (310 Main, thepastrywar.com)

The indoor space at this Garden Oaks gem isn’t particularly spacious, but the vast patio is pretty much covered by shade, which makes for a cooler time outdoors. The beer selection ranks among the best in Houston, as do the burgers. Petrol Station makes for a perfect summer evening on the patio. (985 Wakefield, twitter.com/Petrol_Station)

Speaking of Anvil, Nightingale Room owner Mike Criss has partnered with the team at Anvil in assembling its drink menu. Those drinks go down even better at this intimate indoor space, which ranks among the best spots in downtown Houston. Selections from the Nightingale's ample vinyl collection are played on weekdays, while house music rules the roost on weekends. It also features live and local music pretty much every day of the week it's open...which it's not on Sunday and Monday. (308 Main, nightingaleroom.com)

The beer selection at MvsC ranks among the best in Midtown. The bratwurst and cold-cuts sandwiches served up from the deli are on point. And best of all, the indoor seating is ample. Mongoose Versus Cobra, one of the more unique bars in town, is tailor-made for grabbing dinner and drinks with friends, and doing so in a comfortably temperature-controlled environment. (1011 McGowen, mongooseversuscobra.com)

By day, MKT BAR serves as a place for downtown workers to stop in and grab a sandwich or salad from Phoenicia. By night, however, it morphs into a great happy hour and dinner spot. Featuring weekly events such as Fun & Games Mondays (board games, card games and food/drink specials) and Vinyl & Vino Wednesdays, MKT is not only one of the more underrated bars in Houston; it’s one of the best for escaping the brutal Houston summer heat. (1001 Austin, mktbar.com)

With its vaulted ceilings and natural light, OKRA may just be the most aesthetically pleasing bar in all of Houston. Couple that with the fact that this beauty of a bar is a predominantly indoor space, and you have one of our city’s best summertime bars. Plus, you’re drinking for a good cause — 100 percent of the bar’s proceeds are donated to a different Houston area nonprofit or social cause every month. As of mid-July, OKRA has raised nearly $750,000 for those charities. (924 Congress, friedokra.org)

Neil’s Bahr does feature a patio that serves up hot dogs and burgers, but the bar is predominantly an indoor space adorned with arcade games, old-school video games and couches galore. Couple that with weekly trivia and karaoke nights, a full-service bar and the occasional Mario Kart tournament, and Neil’s is ideal for summer good-timing. (2006 Walker, neilsbahr.com)

To call Little Woodrow’s a Houston area institution may be an understatement – the Houston area features seven of them. Most of these offer ample patio space and are tailored to outdoor drinking in the spring or fall (or even a mild winter). That’s where Little Woodrow’s Shepherd varies from its siblings. The location on Shepherd does feature a patio, for those looking to brave the Texas summer heat. But the venue also features a huge indoor space, one equipped with bar games, televisions at every turn and a massive bar. Plus, unlike some other Little Woodrow’s locations, the Shepherd venue offers food service as well; we recommend the Breakfast Burger or the Mile-Wide Nachos. (720 Shepherd, shepherd.littlewoodrows.com)

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