Top 10 Bars in River Oaks

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. THE OAK BAR Upscale, exclusive, and hand in hand with the next bar on this list, The Oak is one of the newest -- and nicest -- additions to the River Oaks bar scene. DJs spin dance music most nights, and it's common to find folks dancing on the couches, balancing glasses of champagne and super-high heels with expertise.

2736 Virginia, 713-568-9198, facebook.com/oakbarhouston

9. 1919 WINE & MIXOLOGY A hybrid of wine and specially-curated cocktails right next door to The Oak Bar, 1919 Wine & Mixology manages to get both right. Featuring about 140 different wines from around the world, including sustainable and organic options, it also carries a full list of craft cocktails if wine ain't your thing. The decor is simply gorgeous, with a kind of antique-meets-modern elegance that creates an ambiance definitely worth a trip outside your dive-bar comfort zone.

2736 Virginia, 713-568-9197, 1919wmb.com


Despite its name, Cru isn't just another wine bar. Sure, it's got a sommelier to bring you up to snuff on all things vintage, but there's nothing stuffy or old-school about the vibe. Here you'll find half-price bubbles on Thursday, lots of delicious bites, and of course lots of pretty young things. For a wine bar that's basically a requirement.

2700 Kirby #113, 713-528-9463, cruawinebar.com

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7. THE RAILYARD Neighborhood bars belong in every neighborhood, and The Railyard is proof. What makes this divey spot even more awesome than it would be otherwise is that it's divey and cheap in the middle of swanky River Oaks. Cheap beers, friendly bartenders, and a laid-back attitude all wrapped up in a package containing no dress code or douchey door guy: how could anyone ask for more?

4200 San Felipe, 713-621-4000, railyardhouston.com

6. DOWNING STREET This cigar bar in the heart of River Oaks is a fantastic place to savor some incredible whiskeys [a Macallan 30, perhaps? -- ed], but did you know it also has a list of specialty martinis a mile long? From Blood and Sand (a Chivas-based OJ-and-cherry concoction) to the sugary-sweet Milky Way, Downing Street has martinis down to a science, even the pineapple-Infused vodka martini. Makes sense, what with the whole cigar-bar theme, but even with all the strong drink, Downing Street is still pretty laid-back.

2549 Kirby, 713-523-2291, downingstreetpub.com

5. RED LION PUB A long-standing bar crush of ours, Red Lion Pub has got what we need in that Biz Markie type of way. It's no faux British pub in River Oaks; this is the real thing. There's a huge beer and cider selection (we love a good cider), a friendly Brit transplant running the place, and delicious pub food. Call us, maybe?

2316 S. Shepherd, 713-782-3030, redlionhouston.com

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4. KENNEALLY'S IRISH PUB Kenneally's has to be a pretty legit Irish pub, considering how difficult it is to spell its name properly. It's quite anti-trendy, especially in comparison to some other bars on this list, which makes it that much better. It's a barfly kind of place, full of regulars who down their beers while chatting with the bartenders about this and that, but newcomers are always welcome to join in. Just mosey on up and grab a beer, and buy your neighbor a round.

2111 S. Shepherd, 713-630-0486, irishpubkenneallys.com

3. LOCAL POUR Somewhere between sports bar and fancy-schmancy lounge lies Local Pour, the relatively new wine/craft-cocktail/beer bar in River Oaks Shopping Center. There's nothing pretentious about the place, which is airy and bright without being overwhelmingly so. It's got something to snack on while sipping on those delicious cocktails, and even brunch. Plus a game is always on, the beer is always cold, and the patrons are super-friendly. Seems like the right combination to a bar in any area.

1952 W. Gray, 713-521-1881, localpourhouston.com


Despite a hiatus of several months and subsequent change in ownership, it would be darn near irresponsible to leave out this notoriously naughty River Oaks lounge with the infamous blue door. Sure, it hasn't technically reopened yet, but the idea of the dimly lit "upstairs" and all the shenanigans soon to come is enough to knock down the competition by a peg (or six). Scheduled to reopen January 17.

2006 Peden, 713-528-0083, marfrelesshouston.com

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1. THE BAR AT LANDMARK RIVER OAKS THEATRE Don't let the fact that this bar is in a movie theater deter you; anyone in the know knows that the upstairs bar at the River Oaks Theatre is simply the best bar in River Oaks. It's rowdy, ridiculous and a ton of fun, especially as those infamous midnight showings draw closer. Let that serve as both an endorsement and a warning.

2009 W. Gray, 713-866-8881, landmarktheatres.com


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