Best of Houston

Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 8 Latin Nights

Note: This article was written by Rolando Rodriguez and Marco Torres.

In March of this year, Houston beat the likes of Los Angeles and New York as the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the country and that landmark development was mainly due to the growth of Latinos. Back in 1990, Latinos in Houston comprised of one-fifth of the population. As of 2010, they're one-third of the population.

So it's no surprise that the city's Latin-night scene is as plentiful as it is thriving and full of variety. Club Tropicana currently reigns king, hanging its hat on the rich musical cultures of bachata, merengue and salsa, and it draws a diverse crowd of amateur and expert salseros giving their best twirls and shoulder and hip action before authentic live bands.

But the city's Latin-night scene is fast becoming increasingly more diverse than it once was. Places like Tropicana, Elvia's Cantina and Havana Latin Grill & Bar aren't the only games in town anymore. Latin-night mainstays and new kids on the block from Rice Village to the Galleria to downtown make up the best of the rest.

Let's get to it. R.I.P. SkyBar.

8. Paparruchos: Paparruchos is like your alcoholic uncle: They could fuck up Christmas every year, but you still love them. This is the bar where the stamp "Hecho en Mexico" is tattooed on shoulder blades.

Parking is a bitch. It's crowded. It's hot. They serve piss-warm chango for beer. Service is bad, but dammit if it ain't a good time. The crowds keep coming and have been for several years. One of the best places to see a Mexico-versus-anybody soccer game. Fridays you'll find DJ Juanito hosting "Noche Internacional," and Saturdays are "Noche de Salsa." Remember, uncle is bipolar.

3055 Sage Rd., 713-212-3177, Web site

7. Mi Luna: Mi Luna is a Rice Village favorite. This tapas restaurant has a dance floor no larger than a B-boy's makeshift cardboard dance floor but the lighting, ambience and family-restaurant setting lend themselves to a lovely, intimate and romantic feel.

Get a spot at the bar or grab a table near the live band for a spot-on pre-game experience, or get stuck standing in everyone's way dodging waiters and fielding dirty looks from people who feel like you're crowding their personal space. If you're looking for an all-out club experience, this isn't it. It's your launch pad to get you into the groove and mood for a serious night of spreading your salsa wings at places like Club Tropicana.

Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. Pick your poison. By the way, this place was recognized for having the Best Calamari in 2007, Best tapas in 2005 and being the Best Place for a First Date in 2000. Lots to offer.

2442 University, Blvd., 713-520-5025, Web site

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