There was a time when the thought of revitalization in downtown Houston was pure lunacy. What a difference a few years makes. Once a place to simply work and leave, Downtown has not only added a number of lofts and apartments, it has catered to its new residents with a number of new bars and restaurants.
Of course, the new has blended in with establishments that were already in place, making downtown one of the hotter nightlife spots in the city for a while. In fact, for those who live downtown – or those simply looking to check out what all the noise is about – the area doesn’t lack for options.
Downtown Houston has certainly experienced an influx of new bars and restaurants, but through it all, the historic Warren’s has remained. The bar, once populated with regulars, still caters to those regulars, but now also plays host to local hipsters looking to check out one of Houston’s most historic bars. This is a place where nearby judges and lawyers unwind after a long day at the courthouse, and many do so by knocking back one of Warren’s famed – and potent – martinis. 307 Travis, 713-247-9207
Reserve 101 bills itself as Houston’s top whiskey bar, and they’re certainly on to something there. The bar is small, which sorta works for a place that specializes in whiskey and scotch offerings. Located adjacent to the House of Blues, Reserve 101 is the perfect place to grab a drink before a show or to unwind after a rousing show with a laid-back glass of whiskey or two. 1201 Caroline, reserve101.com
Downtown has certainly upped its game in recent years, but La Carafe has withstood the progress and maintained its spot as one of the go-to bars in the city. Housed in the city’s oldest commercial building, La Carafe simply screams “history.” The walls are covered with historical Houston photos, and the jukebox is loaded with classics. When the weather cools down a bit (it’ll happen at some point) and you’re looking to take a walking tour of downtown, La Carafe is the place to start. 813 Congress, 713-229-9399
The Pastry War has gone from hot downtown newcomer to established local bar since opening four years ago. Shortly after it opened, Zagat named The Pastry War one of the hottest bars in America. Summer is a time for tequila, and no other bar in Downtown does that better. In fact, the bar’s Mezcal Margarita may just be the perfect drink for another sweltering summer in the Bayou City. 310 Main, thepastrywar.com
Speaking of the Pastry War, owner Bobby Heugel recently opened a quaint bar just above his first-floor Pastry War in downtown. It's called Tongue-Cut Sparrow, and has generated plenty of buzz since opening earlier this year. Tongue-Cut Sparrow can only seat 25 people at a time, which only adds to its cachet. Those lucky enough to get in can sip on an array of craft cocktails, from juleps to highballs to martinis. Tongue-Cut Sparrow is short on space and long on cocktails; best to make a reservation. 310 Main, tonguecutsparrow.com