Houston had quite a few bars close down in 2010. They were your favorite places to drink, mingle, talk to a conquest, bum a cigarette, and spend money you didn't have, and they all mostly left with whimper, or in one bar's case, about a dozen fire trucks. For every dynamite bar opening this year - Barcadia, Grand Prize Bar, Fitzgerald's, Hefley's, Liberty Station, Moon Tower Inn, Royal Oak, any number of gastropubs - there was something of an equal and opposite bloodletting.
Most bars just coalesce into something else over time. It would have been hard for us to imagine a year ago that right now we would be craving rabbit and pheasant hot dogs, one of our favorite bars would play Motorhead, LCD Soundsystem, and Ke(dollar sign)ha in equal measures, and we would be playing skee-ball drunk in Midtown on a Tuesday.
In 2011 we can expect more openings, including the new location of Dirt Bar somewhere downtown (shhhhh!), the new Walter's (possibly off Tuam, but shhhh!), and rising of a wine and coffee bar near Natachee's on Main by the Island.
This time next year, we could be raving about a new haunt that serves gallon jugs of whiskey and plays Klaus Nomi and Ratt all day. A boy can dream.
Agora: On Halloween Eve, Rocks Off sat outside Agora in Christina Hendricks drag taking pictures, along with a million other costumed drunks, of a roiling fire nearly consuming the popular wine and study spot on Westheimer. A fire had broke out next door at an antique store, which quickly affected Agora.
The owners are quickly renovating, and at one point were shooting for a grand reopening on New Year's Eve, but we are still not sure if that is still happening. Either way, it should be up and running for 2011.
Chances: The Montrose nightlife staple and popular hub for the LGBT community closed down in late November to make way for a restaurant. It didn't make anyone happy, who saw it as another piece of LGBT history falling by the wayside in the neighborhood. It's just been a year and change since the iconic Mary's , which still sits dormant across the way from Chances, shuttered unceremoniously.
The Social: The Social was one of the first Washington Avenue bars to open the floodgates for the avenue's current drinking scene. After it closed in July, new tenants came in to the property and opened a new bar called Swaye, which serves fried bacon on its menu.
Sugarcane: Housed in the former location of uber-popular wine bar The Corkscrew, Sugarcane seemed like a great idea at the time, making organic cocktails in a time when everyone wanted natural, even when they were getting tanked. In the end it was too much like the successful Anvil in Montrose, and it never found its footing on Washington Avenue.
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Rocbar: Along with losing the official aftershow spot for most Verizon Wireless Theater concerts, Houston also lost one of the last places in town (not counting strip clubs) where you could see women in leather hot pants dance to Buckcherry and Pantera almost nightly. Mosaic, Roc's more feminine bar tucked off to the side, was also shuttered. Word has the spot reopening bigger and better in "Winter 2011." We aren't sure if that means next month, or in 12 months. Stay tuned.
Meridian: If you have to ask, it was shady management and a general air of WTFuckery going on that did in the once-popular Meridian. New owners still claim that it's reopening soon, but at this point maybe it should just go back to being a Chinese food warehouse.
Sammy's At 2016 Main: Sammy's, the popular R&B hub off Main, closed in late 2009 to make a few cosmetic changes. It reopened in 2010 with a slight uneasiness and eventually started hosting alt-rock shows by the fall. But by December it had retooled itself as a gay dance club called Mainstage, complete with DJs and drag queens.
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The Gallant Knight: The fratty bar - think 21st Century Animal House - lost a landlord dispute in November essentially paving the way for the bar to be shut down. New Year's Eve is to be their last hurrah, and Vintage Lounge owner Amir Ansari is said to be taking reins in 2011 with a whole new direction. The Gallant Knight folks are still making allusions on Facebook to the spirit of the bar being reborn in a new spot.
Two Rows: The popular brewpub in Rice Village succumbed to pressures from its landlord and had to close in September. The bar owners are mulling over the future of their enterprise, and also just what to do with all that machinery.
Red Cat Jazz Cafe: Red Cat, one of downtown's best jazz bars, is reopening in Shadow Creek Ranch in Pearland. As a former resident of that area, we have no idea how a jazz bar will work in the suburbs, but we can't wait to see how it pans out.
Ashford Arms: We always heard raves about the awesome beer selection and the music at this Irish pub, but we never got to visit before it closed a few days before the Christmas drinking binges.