Note: list is in alphabetical order.
ABSINTHE Unmarked doors and low lighting seem to lend themselves to romance, and Absinthe in Montrose is a bar that meets these two requirements; the fact that absinthe, the drink, was embraced by famous artists and writers including Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Vincent van Gogh and others gives Absinthe, the bar, a sense of excitement and romance itself by association. Made with an extract of wormwood, absinthe, the emerald-green drink, was once banned and falsely believed to cause madness and hallucinations. It is sold here, and indulging in this once-forbidden fruit is kind of sexy, don't you think?
609 Richmond, absinthelounge.com
BOHEME CAFE AND WINE BAR The lighting in Boheme is enough to put one in the mood for romance, including the red interior and exterior lights, the sparkling white Christmas lights on the ceiling and scattered about on the patio, and the reflections of these lights in the wine glasses hanging above the bar. Antique light fixtures from Germany, England and France further enhance Boheme's mood, as well as the care put into the design of the restored historical building and the 6,000-square-foot garden surrounding it. The art, culture, food and style here, inspired by locations around the world, can make a visiting couple feel as though they're off on a romantic adventure.
307 Fairview, barboheme.com
BLUE BAR AT BRENNER'S ON THE BAYOU Blue Bar at Brenner's On the Bayou Steakhouse provides a beautiful view of Buffalo Bayou as well as the surrounding trees and natural green space. The fountains and gardens, along with the open fire pits and chic patio furniture, make couples feel as if they've stumbled upon an oasis in the middle of Houston's concrete urban jungle. Order some specialty cocktails, martinis or wine to share with that special someone, and your date here is sure to be unforgettable.
1 Birdsall, brennerssteakhouse.com
LA CARAFE Located downtown in Houston's oldest commercial building, dating back to 1847, the wine bar La Carafe is a nice spot for couples to escape to, with its dim lighting and candles on the tables; playing the music of Nat King Cole, Etta James or Peggy Lee on the bar's jukebox will amplify the romantic vibe. The small, intimate size of the seating area inside lends itself to cuddling up with your significant other or new acquaintance. Older buildings naturally seem more romantic, with their unique and lengthy histories, and the old Houston photos, newspaper clippings and paintings from bygone years hanging on the walls here help magnify this effect.
813 Congress, facebook.com/La-Carafe
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LOBBY LOUNGE AT THE FOUR SEASONS This upscale but casual bar in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel has comfortable seats and couches illuminated by candlelight and dim lighting overhead that you can relax on while you drink; the bar has an impressive collection of wines and whiskeys, as well as specialty martinis and a full bar.
You can expect friendly bartenders and top-notch service here. If you're not a guest at the hotel and just want to spend a romantic afternoon or evening at the lounge with your boyfriend or girlfriend, valet parking is $6, and the time spent waiting for your car to arrive when the evening is through gives you more time to gaze into each other's eyes.
1300 Lamar, www.fourseasons.com/houston
MARFRELESS Open at its current location since 1976, Marfreless is located near the River Oaks movie theater at 2006 Peden, and has never had a sign out front, just an iconic blue door to mark its entrance. Marfreless is known as a lover's makeout bar, a fact that the bar has never been shy about; after the bar closed in March 2013 and reopened in late January of 2014 after some much-needed renovations, curtains that can be closed for privacy were added in the upstairs seating area. The atmosphere here is dark, sleek and sexy; making out is not a requirement upon entrance.
2006 Peden, marfrelesshouston.com
MONNALISA BAR AT HOTEL SORELLA Monnalisa Bar, located at Hotel Sorella in the northwest part of town outside the Loop, makes a nice destination for lovers to escape to, with its European-inspired decor, booths that provide privacy, open-flame fire pit, sparkling starlit ceiling and beautiful chandelier above the bar. When the weather is warm, couples can step outside and sit next to the blue-lit pool on cozy and comfortable seats under draped cabanas. Live bands that play jazz and soft music on Thursdays through Sundays help elevate the overall romantic mood.
800 Sorella Ct, hotelsorella-citycentre.com/monnalisa
NOUVEAU ANTIQUE ART BAR This Midtown bar is decorated with a large collection of reproduction Tiffany lamps and Art Nouveau (French for "new art") antique furniture; this combination, as well as the lighting effect, cozy couches inside and low-volume music that lends itself to conversation, helps create a romantic atmosphere. Drop in on Lounge Night on Wednesdays to hear the music of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald further enhance the romantic mood more than a night of listening to, say, indie-rock or metal at your usual dive would.
2913 Main, art-bar.net
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WARREN'S INN Warren's is a Houston institution located in a historical building with a cozy, welcoming atmosphere; the chandeliers, large mirrors and low lighting here lend themselves to romance. True, the place can get a little rowdy some happy hours during the week, but if you can, take a seat with your significant other under the catbird-seat gazebo and Christmas lights; play some jazz on the bar's jukebox to transport yourselves back to a more romantic time in American history, and drift away together for a little while.
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307 Travis, warrensinn.biz
ZIMM'S MARTINI AND WINE BAR Sipping on martinis and wine lends itself to romance more so than gulping down shots of Jägermeister or Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey; in addition to the wine and martinis, the comfortable couches, low lighting, and arty decor at Zimm's help elevate the mood even further. Zimm's is an upscale establishment, and escaping out to the patio and its sparkling lights with your significant other can create some magic moments here.
4321 Montrose, zimmsbar.com