As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, 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. KELVIN ARMS Next door to the original Antone's and below Benjy's, this Scottish-themed dive boasts 30 beers on tap, 30 more in bottles and 30 single-malt scotches in a relaxed atmosphere. An outdoor patio plays hosts to plenty of seating and a grill for Steak Nights while, inside, customers can sit at the long bar and watch the game or unwind inside the pub's antique bank vault transformed into a swank, library-themed lounge. If only cigars were allowed inside...
2424 Dunstan, 713-528-4739, kelvinarmspub.com
9. MARQUIS II For more than 70 years, Marquis II has been a staple of Houston's bar scene. Despite a few location changes, this watering hole continues to identify itself as a neighborhood bar, and its friendly staff nurtures that atmosphere. Marquis II is famous for their Texas Tea, which comes in 15 different mixtures and is on special every Tuesday. Try them all, but pace yourself. These concoctions are deceptively strong, and consumption per patron is limited to three a night.
2631 Bissonnet, 713-522-2090, marquis2.com
8. KAY'S LOUNGE A pleasant, no-frills lounge with plenty of seating, Kay's Lounge is a true dive bar. Host to a mixed crowd, ranging all the way from loud college girls to young professionals and plenty of friendly seasoned regulars. A patio, a back yard, pool tables, darts and, of course, the bar itself give patrons plenty of room to chat amongst themselves. And while you're there, make sure to drink at least one beer at the table shaped like the best state in the entire union.
2324 Bissonnet, 713-528-9858, facebook.com/Kayshoustontx
List continues on the next page.
7. VALHALLA As if Rice University didn't already have enough accolades, its students went and started their own bar on campus. Named after the great hall in Norse mythology where souls who have bravely fallen in battle are received, Valhalla has been open for more than 40 years. The bar itself is fairly small, with scattered indoor seating and plenty of spots outside. Valhalla offers a solid beer selection -- including some Texas brews -- at prices that even broke college students can't complain about.
1616 S. Voss, 713-750-0500, valhalla.rice.edu
6. BAKER STREET PUB & GRILL Even on a busy weekend, the plentiful seating both in and outside of Baker Street Bar & Grill can accommodate plenty of visitors. And as a bonus, as far as bar food goes, it doesn't get much better than this -- Baker Street boasts a full menu, complete with "pub favorites." It also regularly hosts live music and, coupled with all the beers available on tap, it's easy to see why this is such a popular spot in the Village.
5510 Morningside, 713-942-9900, sherlockspubco.com
5. BRIAN O'NEILL'S TRADITIONAL IRISH PUB Just across the street from Baker Street is another fixture of the neighborhood's bar scene. Open since 2002, Brian O'Neill's has been a hotspot for young couples, college students, sports fans and even its own running club. Stopping in here is a must on bar-hopping weekends, and it's the perfect place to both begin and finish your evening.
The spacious outdoor patio is great for evenings and the occasional cool day in Houston, and there's plenty of seating inside. Happy hour prices are a steal, too.
5555 Morningside, 713-522-2603, brianoneills.com/modules/wfchannel
List continues on the next page.
4. HANS' BIER HAUS A fantastic beer selection, attentive bartenders and a casual atmosphere come at a slight premium at Hans' Bier House, but the upshot is that it's a unique spot. Hans' modest interior is dwarfed by the sprawling patio, which offers bocci ball and corn hole. It's also a dog-friendly establishment, so stop in, grab a beer, head on outside for some bocci ball with a few friends and let the good times roll.
523 Quenby, 713-520-7474, hansbierhaus.com
3. LITTLE WOODROW'S Like the franchise's other locations, the Village rendition of Little Woodrow's offers an abundant supply of beers on tap, including plenty of local brews. Also here are mixed drinks and wine, a number of nightly drink specials, a weekly trivia night, and a relaxed overall vibe. Come for the conversation and make a few new friends; the people who own this business don't know how to make a bad bar.
5611 Morningside, 713-521-2337, littlewoodrows.com/hou_rice_village
2. THE GINGER MAN Named after J.P. Donleavy's 1952 novel, The Ginger Man has been a Village mainstay since Ronald Reagan's presidency; 68 beers are available on draft and an additional 150 or so in bottles. A welcoming front patio is so shaded in the evenings that you could easily miss it, but make your way inside or out to the sizable back patio, where you can enjoy your brew in a tranquil setting after a long night at work. The evenings are another story, though, since Ginger Man is apt to get crowded and lively.
5607 Morningside, 713-526-2770, houston.gingermanpub.com
List continues on the next page.
1. UNDER THE VOLCANO A quirky decor, constant live music and a lively, bustling crowd are staples of Under the Volcano. Night after night, an eclectic group of regulars and newcomers alike pack the pub so tightly that you just about have to hug the walls to get anywhere. You'll have to get there early to secure a table. But the casual and lively atmosphere, great food and signature cocktails -- namely the Whiskey Smash, Frozen Screwdrivers and Strawberry Basil Margaritas -- make every visit worthwhile. Most Wednesdays Volcano hosts top local and regional alt-country/roots acts.
2349 Bissonnet, 713-526-5282, facebook.com/underthevolcanohouston
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Houston's Top 10 Hipster Bars, Clubs & Icehouses Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses On the Northside Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses In Montrose Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses On the West Side Houston's Top 10 Bro Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.