July is National Anti-Boredom Month. We all can get stuck in a rut sometimes and need to shake things up and go out and do something fun and different to relieve this condition. Here are some bars here in Houston we think will help with this process, not only in July but year-round.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
This underground DIY East End venue has been hosting a lot of eclectic indie bands as of late; this is just the place to visit if you are looking to discover different kinds of music that does not bore you to death. Please be aware that if you are visiting for the first time, signage from the building's previous occupant, El Mante Taqueria & Minimarket, is still up outside. Recent musical acts tend to lean towards art-rock, punk, garage and hardcore, oftentimes on the same bill; the other good news is that the shows here are reasonably priced, often only $5 or a bit more. Check out Black Barbie’s Facebook page for shows and details. (3621 Canal, facebook.com/BLACK-BARBIE)
EIGHTEEN TWENTY LOUNGE/JOYSTIX CLASSIC GAMES & PINBALL
Does playing video games relieve your boredom? If so, head on over to Eighteen Twenty Lounge on the first and last Friday of each month, (July 31 is the next date) grab a few drinks, then pay a $15 cover for "Pacman Fever Fridays," which gains you admittance into Joystix Classic Games and Pinballs next door in the same building, where you can play more than 200 classic and new arcade games, pinball machines, jukeboxes, air-hockey machines, dart machines and more, for no additional fee. Find some games that you love and you can even buy or rent them, and take them home with you to prevent any future boredom outbreaks. (1820 Franklin, 1820lounge.com)
EL BIG BAD
This downtown “gastro-cantina” is indeed big, with 8,000 square feet of bar and dining room space, 2,000 square feet of second-story balcony space looking down onto Prairie and Travis streets, as well as a private dining room. Can tequila help relieve your boredom? If so, this is the place for you, as El Big Bad specializes in infused tequila drinks, with more than 50 infused tequilas in large containers displayed in a case by the stairs that reaches all the way up to the second floor. In addition to the tequila, fresh juice margaritas and cocktails are served here, as well as a big selection of Texas and Mexican beers; if you arrive hungry, a full menu of Mexican and South American food created by celebrated Chef Jonathan Jones awaits you. Be sure to check out the beautiful mural over the top of the bar that depicts the story of Mayahuel, an Aztec Goddess of Fertility and Agave. (419 Travis, elbigbad.com)
Open since 1977, Fitzgerald's is a Heights and greater Houston live-music staple; we would love to see a compiled list of the many great bands and artists, both local and national, who have played at Fitz throughout these many years. If you can’t find some band or musician that you are interested in seeing on Fitzgerald’s calendar you might just not be that big of a music fan; you can probably still have a good time hanging out on the backyard patio or upstairs balcony having some interesting conversations with people regardless. (2706 White Oak, fitzlivemusic.com)
There is always a good time waiting to be had and interesting characters to meet and chat with at Houston’s ultimate dive bar, Lola’s Depot, aka “The Home of Reality"; the stiff drinks and cool tunes on the bar’s jukebox can easily help relieve your boredom. Besides the friendly patrons and bartenders, Lola’s interior and patio area also has a lot of interesting stuff going on visually to feast your eyes on. A lot of cool artwork has been painted on the walls and parts of the ceiling throughout the years; stickers with band names and funny slogans cover up several mirrors; and interesting knick-knacks behind and above the bar are all fun to explore when you have the time. (2327 Grant, facebook.com/Lolas-Depot)
Neil’s Bahr celebrates everything related to geek culture and they have lots of stuff to do there to keep you occupied and relieve your boredom; watch a classic sci-fi movie on the bar’s TV or read some comic books from the bar’s collection if you are solo, or bring some friends along to play some Nintendo 64 or PlayStation 2 video games or Cards Against Humanity. Neil’s offers up a lot of fun weekly events like a trivia night, karaoke, and a Magic: The Gathering tournament; they also recently added a new ping-pong table. Don’t forget to drink a few craft beers and cocktails while you’re having fun. (2006 Walker, neilsbahr.com)
NICK'S PLACE ITALIAN SPORTS BAR & PIZZERIA
You can always find some kind of game on at Nick's Place and the Italian food here, particularly the pizza, is outstanding; Nick’s also doubles as a popular neighborhood bar. This is definitely an old-school place and attracts true sports fans who are knowledgeable and don’t mind talking some trash as well; the bar itself is a little worn and a bit of a dive but that is a big part of its charm and authenticity. There is even a little patio out front if you can stand the heat this time of the summer; a Halloween in July party is here tonight at 7 p.m. (2713 Rockyridge, nicksplacehouston.com)
A Houston institution for almost 37 years now, Numbers soldiers on with Houston's longest-running weekly dance event, Classic Numbers, with DJ Wes Wallace spinning '80s music and videos with some modern goth, techno, electronica and more mixed in. It’s a fun night out and you meet a lot of interesting people; the large-capacity dance floor is packed weekly with the usual mix of scenesters from various subcultures. It’s a prime location for people-watching; find a spot on the black bleachers downstairs and check out people's fashion choices and dance moves under the laser lights, or better yet join in. Numbers has also hosted an impressive list of alternative, industrial and punk acts throughout the years, plus other genres too numerous to mention; Front 242 visits in September. (300 Westheimer, numbersnightclub.com)
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PJ'S SPORTS BAR
This friendly neighborhood dive/sports bar is located in what looks to be an old two-story house; drop in to catch the Astros this time of year with some friendly people in an easygoing throwback environment to how sports bars used to operate. If you are not really big into sports, stop by on Friday nights for one of Houston’s best karaoke rooms; the folks will make you feel welcome enough where you will probably go ahead and finally sing a song yourself instead of just watching. Starts at 9 p.m. (614 W. Gray, pjssportsbar.com)
Winner of the Houston Press "Best Bar Atmosphere" in 2014, Poison Girl is always a nice play to see and meet interesting people in our city; the spacious patio out back with the giant Kool-Aid Man, the R-rated velvet paintings inside, and the row of pinball machines on the back wall are some of the highlights and things to check out here. Poison Girl can get crowded on weekend nights; that can be fun, but do yourself a favor and stop in during the week sometime when the place is slower and you can really look around and absorb the mood of the place. (1641 Westheimer, facebook.com/Poison-Girl-Cocktail-Lounge)