Night Life

Kobain Lounge

You should have to be at least six feet tall and weigh 195 pounds to be allowed to drive a Ford F-150. Having some facial hair wouldn't hurt either.

That's the basis of a somewhat off-­kilter but entertaining argument being waged by Louis Wilcott and Tom Suarez in the dining area/strange-argument section of Heights lounge Kobain (33 Waugh).

Louis, 6'2", is pro-height/weight requirement because "it looks stupid to see some dude the same size as my little sister jump out of a two-ton truck." Tom, 5'8", is anti-requirement because, "Hey, I'm not hitting any more growth spurts, and my truck makes me feel tall." Both have been to Kobain once before and returned because, as Louis succinctly puts it, "There aren't a lot of assholes in here. Everyone is just kickin' back."

The bantering duo are typical Kobain inhabitants: mid-twenties to early forties, professional and more concerned with conversation than whether or not their disheveled hair makes them ­mysterious-looking enough.

Louis and Tom appear to be correct. Despite being almost iconoclastically named after one of music's most sardonic and morbid figures — late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, if you couldn't break the super-secret code — the bar has an ­asshole-to-nonasshole ratio that does seem exceptionally low.

"The crowd here is great," says Kobain general manager Ali Shahid. "This place is probably the most drama-free place I've ever run. College kids to professionals, everyone is chill. We never have a cover, and we've never even had to enforce a dress code."

Fitting, considering that, despite its five flat-panel televisions and eerie urban watercolor portraits of various music legends by artist William Stidham, Kobain has an almost vacation-like, ski lodge/cigar tavern feel to it with its stone fireplace, cherry-wood-­colored walls and tan hardwood floors.

And although it's hardly as pioneering or miserably cool as its namesake, Kobain does offer substance in the way of style, featuring Wi-Fi Internet, a working relationship with Chatter's Café (140 S. Heights Blvd.) next door and a huge, smoker-friendly patio with its own dual bars and ample seating.

But Kobain's greatest asset is its pleasant staff, which miraculously manages to fill drink orders without making patrons feel like a nuisance. "People come just to see our bartenders, says Shahid, "and most times we know a person's name if they've been in here a few times." So it's a little like Cheers, except there aren't as many people in ugly sweaters, and the bartenders aren't as cool as Sam Malone. Then again, nobody's that cool.

Kobain was a vacant building for the seven years prior to its September 2006 opening, so owners Jeff Barati and Andy Aweida — who also own Midtown's Escobar (2905 Travis) and Whiskey Creek (2905 Travis) — are taking full advantage of their lease, making the lounge one of the few Heights locales open seven days a week.

Most nights, if there's not a big game on the telly, you'll hear a strictly '90s-to-­modern-rock sound track pumped through the house speakers; it's not as grunge-heavy as you'd think, unless Fall Out Boy is now considered grunge. Thursdays are Kobain's busiest night, as it catches the transient Midtown crowd in for the totally necessary pre-party party. Fridays and Saturdays you'll catch sets from a DJ who, because of the source of his play­list, has been dubbed DJ iTunes by Kobain employees.

Last Call

Hit up enough nightspots and eventually you're going to run into some dick looking for trouble, so Nightfly enlisted the help of Houston full-contact fighter Anthony "El Diablo" Dominguez to help make sure you kick all kinds of ass the next time trouble pops off.

1. Use the one-to-one ratio, meaning down one water for every alcoholic beverage you drink. It'll keep you alert throughout the night.

2. If confronted, try to ignore it first; the problem may go away. But if contact is made, act swiftly and without mercy, just like the Kobra Kai from Karate Kid.

3. Remember, there's no such thing as a fair fight, so make use of your surroundings. Try taking a mug full of beer and smashing it into your adversary's face. Follow that up with a groin shot — now you're that guy.

Show everyone how tough and cool you are by picking a fight at these other cover-free destinations: Buddha Lounge (2670 Sage) — with a Top 40 mix and claimed "chic" clientele, somebody in there will definitely be worth fighting; Belvedere (1131 Uptown Park) — trendy atmosphere + acid jazz = perfect fight conditions; Davenport (2115 Richmond) — heavy on the martinis and techno, so there's a good chance you'll be the toughest person there.

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Shea Serrano