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. BLUR BAR Blur definitely lives up to its name, thanks to the three bars this giant club houses within its music-bumping walls. This place hides tons of nooks and crannies, so if you're not up for watching the impromptu Beyonce dance-off (yes, those happen here, often), you've got plenty of places to escape the chaos on the upstairs dance floor.
Most of Blur's diverse patrons are there to dance their pretty little asses off, so if you're not, you'll probably have one of the balconies all to yourself. But we suggest you at least try to bust a move, because the dance floor gets so packed there's not a chance anyone else will notice if you've got two left feet.
710 Pacific, 713-529-3447, blurbar.com
9. TC'S PREMIERE SHOW BAR Want to check out one of the best drag shows the city has to offer? TC's has definitely earned that "Show Bar" moniker the old-fashioned way -- their shows are damn near legendary at this point. The crowd is always so friendly, too. There's no pretentiousness here; it's just a bar with an extremely talented group of performers and customers who appreciate that. Oh, and the drinks are dirt-cheap, but that's just a bonus when you have shows this fabulous.
817 Fairview, 713-526-2625, Facebook page
8. THE USUAL PUB Air hockey? Check. Picnic benches? Check. Dog-friendly? Check and double-check. The Usual is a comfortable place for everyone to hang out, no matter what your orientation, a little like Cheers with better decor and a better beer selection. It's casual, gay-friendly, and the Internet jukebox provides endless possibilities. In short, we could live there, especially with the selection of microbrews.
5519 Allen, 281-501-1478, theusualpub.com
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7. METEOR URBAN VIDEO LOUNGE Meteor...shower? Yep. Meteor's hot male dancers find some pretty unique ways to cool themselves off via the shower setup they've got goin' on for all your voyeuristic needs. Don't worry, prudey-pants; they're clothed while getting all cleaned off, so it's still safe territory.
Throw in the fact that Meteor has miles of white leather couches, swarms of pretty people, and plenty of room to shake what your mama gave you, and it's dance the night away o'clock all the time at Meteor. But bring your towels just in case.
2306 Genesee, 713-521-0123, Facebook page
6. MONTROSE MINING COMPANY It's dark, dank, and kind of like dancing in a cave, but the Mining Company has been around so long that it's basically a Houston institution. There's a big-ass patio in the front, which is somehow kind of the back, and the skivvy-sporting male dancers will divert your attention away from the fact that you feel like you're dancing in a mole tunnel if you're inside. Besides, the front/back patio has plenty of bar access, and you know that's why you're there. Booze outside and buns inside, right?
805 Pacific, 713-529-7488, Facebook page
5. JR'S BAR & GRILL The words, "Country boy, shake it for me now," come to mind when thinking of JR's, thanks to the underoo-clad dancers just beyond the bar's hallowed doors. Once inside, JR's is all you could ask for in a bar; don't want to watch the dancers? Go a little further and claim yourself a pool table. Not so good with a cue? Just people-watch instead. But we suggest the karaoke room, because you haven't seen karaoke until you've seen it done by the pros at JR's.
808 Pacific, 713-521-2519
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4. MICHAEL'S OUTPOST Michael's Outpost is a bit of a hidden jewel. It's not right on the Montrose drag, but it's got everything it needs to contend with the best of them: glammed-up drag shows, uber-friendly bartenders, strong-like-bull drinks, and a "less seedy, more comfy" feel. Sure, glitzy clubs are great if you want to take in the view, but places like this -- these chill, low-key, and really welcoming places -- are truly not worth missing.
1419 Richmond, 713-520-8446
3. F BAR The "F" in F Bar must stand for "fancy." Luckily, they don't venture into the dreaded "pretentious," and instead choose to stay just plain ol' fancy. The decor is spot-on, the patrons are a fantastic mix of folks from every walk of life, and the drinks are hardly a slap-job. These bartenders know what they're doing, and they do it well, despite the mad pressure they must be under on those prime clubbing nights.
The indoor-outdoor setup is a perfect compromise as well; the spread is evenly split between the indoor, more rowdy dancers and the loungers hanging out and chatting in the great outdoors. F Bar is also home base for one of the best drag shows we've ever seen, and those performers are happy to come down and greet their fans when they're not belting out songs and killing it with their dance moves onstage. All that can be said is work.
202 Tuam, 713-522-3227, fbarhouston.com
2. SOUTH BEACH It's dancey-dance time! South Beach is the mecca of all things dance; it's a massive space with a plethora of male dancers, laser lights and bone-chilling liquid-nitrogen jets that are bound to keep you from breaking a sweat, no matter how hard you're dancing to the bump-bump-bump of the house music. The sheer size of this place allows for placement of multiple bars, which means you'll be drink in hand at all times, if that's your thing. From the decor to the beautiful people that occupy the hallowed walls, it's the closest thing you'll get to a Miami club this side of Texas.
810 Pacific, 713-521-0107, southbeachnightclub.com
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1. GUAVA LAMP VIDEO LOUNGE Guava Lamp tops this list not because it offers some super-sticky jello-wrestling night or a fantastic drag show. Nope, this bar tops the list because it is just such a chilled-out, welcoming place -- from the patrons to the bartenders and everyone in between -- that it couldn't possibly fall any lower. (Or rise any higher, we suppose.) The vibe hasn't been replicated in the 14 years this bar has been open, which is presumably the reason it's lasted so long.
Come on in, whoever you are, and belt out that karaoke you've been practicing in the shower, cause they won't judge. They'll just pour you a drink and hang out right along with you.
570 Waugh, 713-524-3359, guavalamphouston.com
HONORABLE MENTION: NEON BOOTS DANCEHALL AND SALOON It didn't feel right to leave out what is soon to be Houston -- and Texas's -- largest LGBT country bar, but since Neon Boots isn't slated to open until this weekend (August 22), we thought it might be a bit too early to rate its awesomeness. Built on the site of two of the area's most historic honky-tonks -- the Esquire Ballroom and Willie Nelson's Night Life --and with 10,000 square feet of karaoke, line-dancing lessons, drag shows, and gay bingo, this place is bound to be insane.
11410 Hempstead Hwy., 713-492-0828, neonbootsclub.com
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