As does our sister blog Eating...Our Words, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.
10. Cap's Piano Bar Tuesday through Saturday, Caps Piano Bar boasts one of the best house bands in Houston. Jazz and blues hits from days long gone by are interspersed with present-day hits, though you'll need to keep the tips coming to ensure you hear the latter. But don't worry about racking up a huge bill: There's no cover charge, and the drinks are affordable.
While you wait on your beverages, enjoy some complimentary popcorn as you enjoy the tunes and watch couples cut a rug on the dance floor. Caps is hidden just behind House of Pies off Westheimer, but it's definitely a find.
2610 Briar Ridge 713-784-0024, facebook.com/capspiano.bar
9. Richmond Arms Pub Soccer fans unite! A friendly waitstaff keeps you and your friends' pint glasses full of one of the many draft beers available on tap, and you won't even have to look down from the game as you devour your fish and chips.
If you find yourself visiting for an early game on a Sunday, you'll have to order food with your beverages. Don't fuss, though; it's tasty and affordable. There's plenty of parking available on-site, and when the lot gets full, Richmond Arms opens a second one.
5920 Richmond, 713-784-7722, richmondarmsonline.com
8. The Deck on Fountainview Formerly Trey's, The Deck on Fountainview is now more aptly named for its key feature, but its merits don't end there. Nightly drink specials, industry prices and good food compliment the relaxed atmosphere and keep patrons smiling.
Many of the regulars are bartenders themselves and are as good at reading customers as the waitresses are, so whether you're looking to make new friends or have a few drinks in solitude, The Deck will be happy to accommodate you.
6002 Fairdale, 713-914-9990, thedeckonfountainview.com
7. Ron's Pub & White Horse Inn Boisterous dart players who take their games seriously, convivial customers singing along to a great selection on the jukebox and juicy burgers available next door from Cliff's combine to make this neighborhood staple a solid choice for regulars and welcoming enough for newcomers too.
Don't mind its modest exterior or its placement in a strip center. Once you make your way inside, you'll be greeted by comfortable seating and friendly regulars. Ron's has a good number of beers on tap, all of which are reasonably priced, and pooches are welcomed guests as well.
1826 Fountainview, 713-977-4820, ronspub.com
6. The Railyard Right off the train tracks, as its name suggests, The Railyard is a bare-bones, no-frills neighborhood drinkery that offers quick service and reasonable prices. Happy hour lasts all day Sunday, and the bar is also a partner with the Dynamo pub groups.
Wear orange, have a few drinks, make some new friends with the welcoming regulars, and feel free to be as loud as you'd like. The train will drown it all out anyway.
4200 San Felipe, 713-621-4000, railyardhouston.com
5. Prohibition As if an emphasis on craft cocktails wasn't enough to entice would-be patrons and keep regulars coming back, Prohibition also offers weekly burlesque shows and encourages its clientele to swing dance. Aligned with its name, the '20s and '30s are further celebrated by its patrons, who are known to show up wearing fedoras and suspenders, cigar in hand.
Besides being a piano bar, Prohibition serves brunch and tea Sundays, and the "Voyager Room" upstairs is available for private parties as well. Reservations are required for the burlesque shows and encouraged at all other times.
5175 Westheimer, 281-940-4636, prohibitionhouston.com
4. The Black Swan Located in the basement of the Omni Hotel, the Black Swan is an in-the-know hotspot for wedding and business parties. This underground club feels upscale and refined, but the loud music, spacious dance floor and friendly pours worldlessly implore visitors to party all night.
The drinks aren't as expensive as you might initially think, though they definitely aren't the cheapest in town, either. The self-parking is a bit of a pain, but if you can make your way through the garage, into the hotel and down the elevator, it's well worth the trip.
4 Riverway, 713-871-8181, Web site
3. The West End A strong selection of beers on tap, including an number of local brews, is the mainstay of The West End, one of the Galleria's newest drinkeries and arguably the best addition. Its proximity to a few hotels ensures an interesting, rotating clientele, the on-site valet is complimentary, and great-tasting food make it a virtual one-stop shop.
The bartenders are well-versed in their craft, too. So if they don't have your drink of choice available, just ask for a suggestion, and they'll offer you a something tantamount. You might even like it more than your original choice.
5320 Westheimer, 713-590-0616, westend-houston.com
2. Big Woodrow's Bar & Grill If cheap drinks, a laid-back atmosphere, crawfish and football are your idea of a good time, you already know about Big Woodrow's. "Geeks Who Drink" trivia Tuesdays are a chance for more contemplative patrons to test their wits, and $5 refills on domestic pitchers give the rest of us an opportunity to keep up.
The food's good enough if not better than most bar food, too. Most of the seating is outside though, so if there's inclement weather and likely to be a crowd at the sporting event of your fancy, you might want to go elsewhere.
3111 Chimney Rock, 613-784-2652, bigwoodrows.com
1. Muldoon's Just behind Beck's Prime, swaddled beneath a miniature forest, Muldoon's employs some of the friendliest and loveliest bartenders in town. Since it's just out of sight of Westheimer, patrons can find refuge here from the standard commotion of the Galleria.
Limited seating guarantees that the bar nurtures a casual atmosphere, and the staff perpetuates that ambiance. Mid-level prices aren't high enough to turn you away, and most patrons would probably pay even more for the ability to actually hear their friends talk.
2611 Augusta, 713-706-4490, muldoonsbar.com
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