On our bar adventures about town, most of us are going out to have a good time and hoping to encounter some friendly faces. From our experience, the bars on this list meet these requirements, as we usually encounter both good-natured and approachable patrons and staff at these places.
Keep in mind that you can run into a jerk anywhere, unfortunately, but we feel if you give these spots a chance you're most likely to make some new friends, at least for the night.
10. CECIL'S PUB This laid-back, dog-friendly Montrose neighborhood bar has cheap drinks, a great eclectic jukebox, and a large wraparound patio. The patrons come from a lot of different backgrounds, and from our experiences here are all out to have a good time and relax; the patio usually seems to be more conducive to friendly conversations with new people, but you can venture inside and find some cool folks to play pool or darts with as well. Sometimes the bar area can get a little crowded and you have to wait a few minutes to grab some drinks, but the people in the bar are usually pleasant to each other while waiting, while the bartenders are cordial as well.
600 W. Gray, facebook.com/Cecils-Pub
9. JIMMY'S ICE HOUSE We usually stop by this seminal Heights-area ice house before going to see a live show at Fitzgerald's across and down the street, so we are already in a good mood in anticipation of the night's entertainment. However, you can make this a destination spot and also have a pretty good time.
Formerly known as Jimmie's Place and also referred to by some Internet sites as Jimmie's Ice House (we called and verified the current name and spelling), Jimmy's is just a laid-back place where you can knock back ridiculously cheap Lone Stars or Natural Lights while chatting up friendly, sometimes older neighborhood regulars while checking out the scene going on out front on White Oak Drive. An Internet jukebox is available for your entertainment and luckily the regulars have good taste; the tiny men's room can be an adventure.
2803 White Oak, facebook.com/Jimmys-Ice-House
8. UNDER THE VOLCANO People always seem to be in a good mood whenever we visit Under the Volcano. Patrons really appreciate its unique style and décor, with its Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)-inspired shrine, Central and South American tribal masks hanging on the walls; candles of various spiritual and religious traditions on the tables; crosses; and more.
The beauty of the place, including the nice landscaped parking lot that greets patrons upon arrival, seems to have a positive effect on the people who visit, and makes for a really nice bar experience; you won't normally encounter any ill-tempered people here. The Volcano also has one of the city's best jukebox selections for your listening pleasure.
2349 Bissonnet, facebook.com/underthevolcanohouston
7. 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 E. 24th, danelectrosguitarbar.com
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6. C & F DRIVE INN The C & F stands for Cortez and Family, and this Heights neighborhood ice house has indeed been run by the Cortez family since opening in 1987. C & F is a no frills kind of place that people in the neighborhood visit as part of their weekly routine to catch up with friends; people from all over Houston have also discovered the place in recent years and drop in for the cheap beer and non-pretentious environment.
A game of pool here costs only 50 cents, but if you knock the ball off the table you are required to put a dollar into the jukebox. The back yard allows for barbecues and games of horseshoes and washers when the weather warms up. Football is popular here, and former UT Heisman winner and Houston Oilers legend Earl Campbell even stopped in for a beer once.
6714 N. Main, facebook.com/candfdriveinn
5. WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE Open since 1928 according to the sign out front, West Alabama is a Houston institution and a big, backyard-party place where people come to grab some cold beers, sit on shaded picnic tables, and enjoy good conversation with friendly and approachable patrons. You can always stop by here and start up a conversation with a stranger if you like and not be given the brush-off; people from a wide variety of backgrounds call the place home, from blue-collar workers to oil tycoons and everyone else in between. Grab a taco from across the street at Tacos Tierra Caliente, and challenge some regulars to a friendly game of basketball, ping-pong or horseshoes when you visit.
1919 W. Alabama, facebook.com/WALABAMA
4. LOLA'S DEPOT Lola's kind of has an unfair reputation as a "scary" bar among the uninitiated. Upon arrival, this Montrose dive bar has no sign out front and looks like a dilapidated purple house, and it's dark as a dungeon inside. The rock-star portraits and tribal-mask art on the faded black walls, stickers all over the mirrors and bathroom graffiti will probably scare off the jet set.
The fact is, however, that the patrons and bartenders at Lola's are friendly people and the super-strong, cheap drinks keep the good times rolling. Lola's is known as "The Home of Reality," and the authenticity, history and vibe of the place is something that can't be duplicated. Checking out the equally divey back patio is a must.
2327 Grant, facebook.com/Lolas-Depot-Houston-Texas
3. RE:HAB BAR ON THE BAYOU A lot of the friendly vibe at Re:Hab originates from outgoing and gregarious owner Grace Miller. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Miller has lived in Houston for 20 years and calls it the "best city in America." Her friendly regulars include local musicians and artists of all ages, who are happy to engage in conversation if you desire.
The large backyard patio located on the banks of Little White Oak Bayou helps put everyone in a good mood when the weather is nice; outdoor features include picnic tables, a big court for playing washers and a fire pit. Live music is played here weekly and there is never a cover, but be sure to throw in a tip for the band onstage when you visit.
1658 Enid, rehabar.com/
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2. ROSE GARDEN This Polish-American bar in the Heights, located in an old house dating back at least to the 1940s, is aptly named. It's owned by a woman named Rose Marie and features a wooden deck out back lined with rose bushes. The place is small inside and when you arrive, most likely everybody inside will know everybody, but at the same time they are friendly and welcoming to newcomers.
The Rose Garden is a basic Texas beer joint, with Lone Stars and other domestics being 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 selection is one of the best in the city, featuring lots of honky-tonk classics as well as classic rock and R&B. After you've had a few beers and are done looking at the pictures of Elvis hanging from the wood-paneled walls, get to know some of the approachable regulars and they are sure to ask you to join them in a game of dominoes.
2621 Link, facebook.com/Rose-Garden
1. ALICE'S TALL TEXAN DRIVE INN Alice's Tall Texan is well-known for the cheap, 18-ounce Shiner and Lone Star beers they serve in giant fishbowl-shaped goblets; don't be surprised if some of the friendly regulars come over and hand you a chip they purchased from the owner, Alice herself, that is good for one free beer.
Many patrons here know each other very well and in some cases have been meeting up at Alice's for decades; the cool thing is when you come in for the first time they'll immediately make you feel like part of the gang. A lot of people who have lived in the neighborhood for many years, as well as new arrivals, call the place home. Expect to hear some country music on the jukebox, as well as some salsa, Tejano, and norteño from the large Hispanic clientele.
4904 N. Main, facebook.com/Alices-Tall-Texan
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