Houston's Top 10 Honky-Tonks

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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. ALICE'S TALL TEXAN The Tall Texan is an interesting place: a true honky-tonk saloon smack dab in the middle of the city. It's everything we love about Texas, from the jukebox full of killer Texas tunes to the abundance of Lone Star and Shiner served in big glass goblets about the size of our state. Tall Texan, we salute you for doing Texas right all these years.

4904 N. Main

9. REDNECK COUNTRY CLUB It would be a little bit silly for us to leave off a place that claims its workin'-man-honky-tonk roots right in its name, but luckily Redneck Country Club gave us a little more to work with than that. Between Sammy Kershaw bookings and the gun-themed membership levels, this "country club" is every bit a Texas honky-tonk -- a relatively new honky-tonk, mind you, but a honky-tonk nonetheless. If there's one thing that Michael Berry knows well, it's Texas, and since he's behind the RCC, it was bound to be country as a turnip green.

11110 W. Airport, theredneckcountryclub.com

8. BIG TEXAS DANCEHALL & SALOON (SPRING/CLEAR LAKE) Big Texas is a double-yer-fun honky-tonk, with two massive locations out in Spring and down by Clear Lake, this place has your Texas-country needs covered. We mean that, too -- whether it's Wade Bowen or Scooter Brown Band, Big Texas is bound to have someone up on that stage, singing his or her heart out for your two-steppin' pleasure. Be sure to tip your hat to them next time you go, whether north or south. they're keeping the inner-loop snuggled up on both sides with plenty of good ol' country music, which is ultimately kind of awesome.

19959 Holzwarth, 281-353-8898 (Spring)/803 E. NASA Rd. 1, Ste. 140 (Clear Lake), 281-461-4400, bigtexassaloon.com

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7. CYPRESS SALOON Don't fear Cypress, son. It's loaded with honky-tonks, and that's what we're after on this bar list, so go with it. One of the many ways the 'burbs can be useful is if you've a hankering to down some beers and listen to Matt Caldwell or Trevor Cole. Just make sure you order a Texas beer to accompany that two-steppin', because Coronas just won't wash on this one.

12710 Telge, Cypress, 281-304-7777, cypresssaloonlive.net

6. MASONES SALOON If you haven't made the trek out to Cypress to check out another honky-tonk up that way, Masones Saloon, you're missing out on guys like Jared Blake and Wade Hayes onstage. That's almost honky-tonk sacrelige, isn't it? So throw on your pearl-snap shirt -- the one that isn't filthy from your inner-loop misdeeds -- and head on out there to down some beers with the big boys.

11133 Huffmeister, Cypress, masonessaloon.com

5. WHISKEY RIVER DANCEHALL & SALOON Cheap drinks, cowboys, and country music: that's about all you need to know about Whiskey River, really. This huge dancehall in the Willowbrook area has a parking lot that's always full with jacked-up trucks as far as the eye can see. It reminds us of a huge East Texas dancehall, where the crowd comes from far and wide to check out the band and dance the night away. We're sure you'll hear plenty of "yes ma'ams" and "y'alls" in this place, which will only add to the authenticity.

7637 F.M. 1960, 281-477-0528, whiskeyriverhouston.com

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4. KATIE'S BAR & GRILL (BACLIFF) The next time you want to leave your comfortable inner-loop bar bubble (and perhaps you should), allow us to suggest a trip out to Katie's in Bacliff. Trade your flip-flops for a worn pair of cowboy boots (or not), and enjoy the open-air patio flanking the stage -- where local acts Lennasaurus Rex and the No Refund Band will gladly pick out some tunes out for you this weekend -- and put those boots to work on Katie's big wooden dance floor. We promise you'll love it.

315 Grand Ave., Bacliff, 281-559-3773, katiesbar.com

3. MO'S PLACE You already know why we love Mo's, but we'll tell you again anyway. One, all the kitschy bits of country nostalgia lining the walls of this massive joint. And then there's little excuse to avoid dancing your ass off, since Mo's offers up not one but two dance floors. One enormous floor is made just for dancing to all the awesome country musicians Mo's brings in, which is a lot (happy birthday Mo Sr. this Saturday). The other one is for line-dancing to your uncoordinated heart's content.

21940 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, 281-392-3499, mosplacekaty.com

2. TIN HALL There's a very good chance you haven't heard of Tin Hall, but we won't judge you too hard as long as you remedy the situation by making your way down to this Cypress institution, post-haste. Established in 1889, Tin Hall is the oldest honky-tonk in these parts, and still offers up music from the Caney Creek Outlaws or Country Knights, among others. But don't rush over too quickly. Tin Hall is reserved for private events most of the time, but does open up public dancing once a month -- such as this Saturday night with the Lonely Road Band.

14800 Huffmeister, Cypress, 713-664-7450, tinhall.com

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1. FIREHOUSE SALOON Currently nominated for Music Venue of the Year in the Lone Star Music Awards, Firehouse Saloon practically corners the Houston honky-tonk market. When it comes to booking top-shelf country talent, you can bet your bottom dollar that ex-West U firefighter Tom Imber and his team know exactly what they're doing. It's had just about every Texas musician worth his or her salt on the calendar for more than 20 years, and still brings in ringers like Rodney Crowell last weekend to go with up-and-comers like locals Mark Jones & Twenty Paces this Saturday. We hope they never change.

5930 Southwest Fwy., 713-977-1962, firehousesaloon.com


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