5. LOLA'S DEPOT Is it possible for a place to look run-down -- in a good way? Some who wax nostalgic about Lola's wasteland pre-eminence as the place to score drugs in the '80s now joke of it as a "neighborhood bar," offering such high-class amenities as ATM machines.
Remnants of the old Lola's exist, though. This includes the bathrooms, which should only be used for their original purpose if absolutely necessary. Cheap drinks and chill pool games make up for the lack of sanitation, as does the laid-back crowd. For punk purists, this dirty and dark dive is the perfect pick.
2327 Grant, 713-528-8342, Facebook page
4. POISON GIRL Expect to find the wannabe intelligentsia of Houston -- hipsters with oversized glasses and suspenders attached to high-waisted pants -- vibing to all sorts of indie music (plus assorted guest DJs) in this small Montrose-area bar. Besides that, there's a nice selection of drinks, from $2 Lone Star beers to gluten-free suds, and a patio behind the building for smokers -- which if you end up there, you'll run into scary-as-hell Cabbage Patch doll and Kool-Aid man statues.
Poison Girl also has pinball machines. You might as well start up a game with someone you don't know, since the small size of the place makes it hard for you to move around without bumping into two or three people.
1641 Westheimer, 713-527-9929, Facebook page
3. NOTSUOH The dictionary defines punk as "a style or movement characterized by the adoption of aggressively unconventional and often bizarre or shocking clothing, hairstyles, makeup, etc., and the defiance of social norms of behavior, usually associated with punk rock musicians and fans."
notsuoH -- Houston spelled backwards -- would definitely fit into that description. With hats on the ceiling, art exhibitions on the walls, smoking inside or out (shhh), pinball machines lining the back (similar to Poison Girl), people playing chess and of course music, notsuoH epitomizes the kind of carefree abandon characteristic of punk. The bar also frequently features actual punk music, as well as many other DIY-oriented styles.
Actually, it's not fair for us to describe this venue as anything; you just have to go experience it for yourself. You'll no doubt have an emosewA time.
314 Main, 713-409-4750, notsuoh.com
12:30 p.m. UPDATED to reflect Mango's no longer serving food. 2. MANGO'S Oh, Mango's.
You're a sly little devil of a punk bar, disguised as a vegetarian restaurant. You wouldn't initially expect vegetarian cuisine Though it's no longer a vegetarian restaurant, big crowds gather on weekends and weekdays to hear punk, ska and rock music in the demure little Westheimer building. If you're not into multipurpose venues, this may not be the place for you. As a reviewer on Yelp put it, "It can't decide if it wants to be a restaurant, bar or music venue." However, if you like the idea of getting more punk for your buck, Mango's, with its " dollar well" drinks and a four-band bill such as Forced Reality, Broken Heroes, No Resistance and Dog Company next Friday, is a good bet.
403 Westheimer, 713-522-8903, mangoscafehouston.com
1. WHITE SWAN Best of Houston® winner, 2012: Even when this complete dive in the East End isn't hosting real-deal punk and metal shows that run in the $5 to $7 cover-charge range, the punk-ness oozes from the cans of PBR and the raucous back patio. The best times are Fridays and Saturdays, but even off nights are awesome, such as when Dallas-based Dead to a Dying World headlined a Sunday-night gig New Year's Day 2012.
The Swan also hosts the occasional festival, including Unite to Destroy, which featured two evenings of get-trampled-in-the-pit punk and metal from Texas-based groups such as Gall and Turbokrieg as well as national and international acts. In true punk form, pinning down exact show dates, times and lineups is an elusive proposition. Instead, you'll have to check the posters on the bathroom doors of the Swan, the flyer shelves at Sound Exchange on Richmond, or ask your local punk.
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4419 Navigation Blvd., 713-923-2837, Facebook page