Houston's 10 Best Date-Night Bars

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Date night can take many forms. For longtime couples, it may mean a quiet night away from work, kids, friends or all the above. For newer couples, it may mean a lively spot and a late night (or a long day). As for first dates, well, it may just be plain awkward. Whatever the state of your relationship, Houston doesn’t lack for date options. Here are ten of the best date-night (or day) bars in the Bayou City. (Note: This list is in alphabetical order.)

Not only a great date spot, but according to the Houston Press, the Bayou City's unofficial Tinder bar, 13 Celsius isn’t exclusive to online daters looking for a little company. In fact, it offers quite a bit for couples looking for one of the more non-Midtown bars in Midtown. Tucked along the area’s edge, 13 Celsius offers a low-key vibe, quality salads, cheeses and appetizers, as well as one of the best wine lists in the neighborhood. (3000 Caroline, 13celsius.com)

This quaint little Bohemian-style joint is another one perfectly suited for couples in the mood for a night out, albeit one in which they can actually hear one another speak. Absinthe is somewhat underground and appears to like it that way; there’s not even a sign indicating the bar’s name. Once inside, however, visitors are treated to one of Houston’s hidden gems. That includes an array of absinthe-infused libations, as well as a number of other craft cocktails. Plus, the food goes beyond standard bar fare, particularly the unique assortment of pizzas, including the John Deere (pepperoni, cilantro, goat cheese) and the Cezanne (lemon chicken). (609 Richmond, absinthelounge.com)

On a nice fall or spring (or winter, for that matter) day in Houston, there may not be a better date spot in town. Axelrad literally has it all – Luigi’s pizza served up on the patio, an array of craft beer and spirits, plenty of outdoor seating, and fire pits galore. Plus, a hammock garden! And, oh yeah, not only is the patio dog-friendly, but Axelrad routinely hosts a number of animal benefits and related events — perfect date outings for the animal-loving couple. (1517 Alabama, axelradbeergarden.com)

Down House ranks among the top date spots in Houston, in part because it ranks among the best date spots in Houston no matter the time of day. Open from morning to late night, Down House serves up some of the city’s best breakfast and lunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and dinner is served from 5 to 11 p.m. On the weekends, the brunch crowd can get down from 9 to 3. Down House is small and typically packed on the weekends, yet it doesn’t really ever feel crowded. The service is great, and the bar makes for an ideal spot while you're waiting for a table. For those in the mood for a brunch date, you can’t go wrong with the chicken and waffles and a Big Ol’ Bloody Mary; the latter comes garnished with a chicken wing, with a beer back. (1801 Yale, treadsack.com/downhouse)

For starters, you can’t beat the atmosphere of the old W.L. Foley building, which houses Hearsay, as it provides a nice historic feel with modern amenities. Couple that with some of the best food and craft cocktails around (particularly those of the bourbon-infused variety), and you get one of downtown’s ideal date spots. Extra-hungry, or perhaps looking to split a meal? Order the Byrd, a burger that comes equipped with bacon, two types of cheese, a fried egg, avocado, and mac and cheese. (218 Travis, hearsayhouston.com)

One of Houston’s most famous gay bars — if not the most famous — JR’s doesn’t lack for options when it comes to a fun date night. Weekly events include an amateur strip show (Monday), a drag show (Tuesday), karaoke (Thursday) and a day-long combination of all the above (Sunday). When go-go dancers and techno music meet a Texas-western vibe, a good time is going to be had, and JR’s offers just that. Plus, drink specials every day and happy hour six days a week! (808 Pacific, jrsbarandgrill.com)

If you’re looking for a nice, quiet night out with your significant other, it’s probably best to look elsewhere than Kung Fu Saloon (or anywhere on Washington, for that matter). But if you’re in the mood for a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon knocking back some drinks, watching sports and enjoying a smattering of vintage (and free!) arcade games like Street Fighter and NBA Jam, this is the place. And the food, particularly for a bar, is sneaky good. (5317 Washington, kungfusaloonhouston.com)

To call La Carafe Houston’s oldest bar is slightly inaccurate (Leon’s Lounge actually holds that title), but it does reside in the city's oldest commercial building. Simply put, there’s nothing bland or boring about La Carafe; it’s a bar designed for patrons in the mood for something distinct. That includes a vintage jukebox, candles galore and photos on the wall that piece together our city’s history (plus, Carafe allegedly even has its own ghost). The wine list is solid and the atmosphere is unlike anything else in Houston. (813 Congress, 713-229-9399)

Proof that downtown really is starting to happen, Nightingale Room not only ranks among the best date-night bars in Houston; it ranks among the best bars in Houston period. Featuring live local music nearly every night of the week (the bar is closed on Sunday and Monday), the Nightingale is a perfect place to enjoy a night out with your significant others; plus, for those new couples still working through the awkward stage, live music means no need to rely on conversation to carry the evening. (308 Main, nightingaleroom.com)

Onion Creek ranks among Houston’s ideal first-date spots, and with good reason. For starters, the bar and patio are lively enough to calm first-date nerves, but not so lively as to prevent conversation. The food is solid, as is the local craft beer selection on tap. Plus, Onion Creek is surrounded by a number of other bars on White Oak, including Public House Heights, Jimmy’s Ice House, Christian’s Tailgate and Little Woodrow’s. So if a first date is going well, there’s always somewhere else to continue the evening. And if it’s a bust? Well, you can always meet up with friends nearby and recall your disaster of a date. (3106 White Oak, onioncreekcafe.com)

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