Houston's Top 10 First-Date Bars

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As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.

10. GRAND PRIZE BAR Grand Prize is a little bit busy and a little bit loud, so it's perfect for a first date. The noise level and the vast array of people instantly remove any initial getting-acquainted awkwardness. Besides, how could people not feel right at home with the hodge-podge furniture and cheap beer? You can't help but be yourself at Grand Prize.

1010 Banks, 713-526-4565

9. MARFRELESS Our crush on Marfreless is no secret, but that doesn't mean it's not a good first-date bar. It's dark and hidden, and the drinks are ever-so-strong. Even if the date's opening moments are awkward, that liquid courage is bound to take hold at some point. And there's always the upstairs. Now that we think about it, perhaps it's more of a third-date/third-base bar? Really, if she's cool with hanging at Marfreless on the first date -- or the tenth -- she's a keeper.

2006 Peden, 713-528-0083, marfrelesshouston.com

8. STATE BAR & LOUNGE Yay for martinis! State Bar is a pretty chill place for a first date, with fancy decor, books stacked neatly on the shelves, and leather everything. With plenty of girly and manly martinis, your date is bound to have something to sip on. And It's so full of interesting history, there's little danger of running out of stuff to talk about.

909 Texas, 713-229-8888, thestatebar.com

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7. THE HARP The Harp is the diviest of dives, and that's a good thing. If your date is down with chilling with a beer and some trivia here, we're talking long term prospects. You and your newfound amore can huddle up all sorts of nooks and crannies, or hang out right in the midst of the chaos. Whatever floats your first-date boat.

1625 Richmond, 713-528-7827, theharphouston.com

6. RUDYARD'S C'mon. It's Rudz. It's basically good for just about anything, even first dates, and especially if your date is a beer lover. Let's hope for your sake they are, because beer lovers make the best mates.

2010 Waugh, 713-521-0521, rudyardspub.com

5. LA CARAFE This downtown bar in Houston's oldest commercial building makes a super-cool setting for a first date. It even has its own (alleged) ghostly resident. Carafe's jukebox is one of the city's best, too, so if you're testing the waters of musical compatibility, send your date up there and judge their selections. Hey, it's a first date -- judging is part of the role-play.

813 Congress, 713-229-9399

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4. KUNG FU SALOON Two words: arcade games. Some are old-school, some are from the '00s, and some are just simply badass. When you factor in the beer, Kung Fu is practically first-date heaven. The only problem is that you may ignore your date to kick someone's ass at Mortal Kombat. But if they're cool they won't care because they'll be busy too. Pac-Man busy.

5317 Washington, 713-864-0642, kungfusaloon.com

3. MARQUIS II We're not sure where Marquis I is, but we're pretty sure it could never live up Marquis II anyway, so who cares? The little lounge in Rice Village used to be a strip club, with mirrored walls and poles as proof of its former life. That said, it's a cool-ass place to hang out on a date. It's loud, but not too loud, and the crowd has to have a bit of a sense of humor to hang out in a place that looks like it may collapse inward at any second. The bathroom is full of graffiti, and we're pretty sure our name appears once or twice -- if you're lucky, your date will be cool enough to throw yours up there too.

2631 Bissonnet, 713-522-2090, marquis2.com

2. JOYSTIX/EIGHTEEN TWENTY LOUNGE First Fridays are where it's at, man. When Eighteen Twenty opens its hallowed doors to Joystix, its arcade-game mecca of a neighbor, all sorts of fantastic chaos ensues. There are tons of old-school games and pinball to compete at, and plenty of alcohol to make you much chattier than you otherwise would be during a round of Galaga.

1820 Franklin, 713-224-5535

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1. CEZANNE JAZZ CLUB First dates are full of awkward silences, so what could be better to ease that tension than some sweet jazz in a superb venue? Perhaps some awesome martinis? Cezanne has all of those things, so it's basically the best place to take a first date ever. You'd be rude to talk over the music, so no weird chit-chat required. Just some decent drinks and the bonus points you'll earn for taking your date to a jazz bar, you classy thing.

4100 Montrose, 713-522-9621


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