$1 Jello Shots at Sunny's Bar

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A good jello shot can bring out the kid in anyone. "You're supposed to loosen the sides with your tongue so you can get at the jello," my friend told me as I held the little plastic cup against my mouth , trying to suck out the contents in vacuum fashion. Just the act of doing so gave me a heady buzz. It was like eating candy, but better, the jello cold and slippery, sweet and, yes, spiked.

"I'm trying to make it last longer," I replied, "I'm already on my third cup and we only just got here," I told him as I happily slurped up every last bit blue jello and resisted the urge to grab another.

Behind the counter, Sunny, the super-sweet bartender-jello-shot-maker-proprietress of Sunny's Bar (902 Capitol, 713-224-3200) pulled out the round jello shot tray and laid it on the bar directly in front of me. With a wide smile, she said, "Here, you eat as many as you want." I didn't resist, eating another and then, another. They were only a $1 after all, and they came in three colored flavors -- bright turquoise blue Icee, red strawberry, and purple grape. The blue was my favorite. I could not get enough of it.

It was around midnight on a Friday night, and we had walked over after from Wortham Center after a night at the ballet. I would never have found Sunny's, tucked away as it was, if my friend hadn't taken me below the modest black awning hidden behind some street construction.

But I loved this little dive bar from the minute I walked in. It had everything guaranteed to make you feel relaxed and happy. There was sunny, beach-themed, colorful pop art on the wall, completely apropos for a place called Sunny's. The lighting was bright, with neon hues reflecting from the various signs on the walls. There were funny posters and stickers all over the walls, one saying, "If this is all there is, then we are seriously f@%*$ed!" There was freshly made popcorn popping in the corner, which you could eat for free, along with little baskets of peanuts to make the time fly by faster.

And the sound system was beyond great, blaring everything from Tom Petty's "American Girl" to Fleetwood Mac's "You Can Go your Own Way" to U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name," choices you could select yourself from the jukebox in the corner. People got up and danced. We broke out in song. It was karaoke without the microphone and nobody cared. I had a blast. And everyone else did, too.

I went back in less than a week, this time with a group of girlfriends. We sat at the striped table in the front beneath a straw umbrella, taking $1 jello shots, colorful $2 shooters, coughing over the amount of alcohol in the 25 cent pineapple chunks, eating hot popcorn and peanuts, singing along with the great songs and having a grand ole time.

Every now and again, Sunny would come by with a jello shot tray, saying "The guy at the counter is buying a round of jello shots for everyone in the house." We looked over in thanks, and a guy would wave back, smiling.

Such is life at Sunny's Bar. It's like the Houston version of a modern day Cheers. You could sit for hours and enjoy yourself watching the antics of the people at the bar. It's a totally mixed crowd, totally random, laid-back and so much fun. Everybody knows Sunny, and she makes a mean jello shot. How can you not love such a place?

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