Dive Bar Eats: At Best, A Mixed Bag

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

This week's feature is all about Houston's best dive bars. Dive bar food in Houston is a pretty hit-and-miss affair. If you lump icehouses in with the overall class of dive bars, as you must in Houston, you know what to expect: average to great backyard grill fare like hot dogs, burgers, and occasionally steaks. And then there are the roving bands of Mexican tamale ladies and Middle Eastern pizza dudes. We recommend the former heartily and the latter not so much, unless you really like utterly generic pizza or are drunk enough not to notice. Which might well be the case.

Some of the most old-school of local dives offer potlucks, but you'd better be either a regular or invited to partake before you dig in. At the Heights's Rose Garden, you might luck into some home-made kielbasa from out in one of Texas's heavily Slavic counties, and in Third Ward, you might be treated to oxtails (or other soul food) or red beans and rice. Elsewhere, you're kind of out of luck. A good many local dives offer little more than free salty snacks (or chips you have to pay for) or various unlikely items suspended in fluid in pickle jars.

A few exceptions: Rudyard's is only arguably a dive, but its burgers and fish n' chips are justifiably famous. Likewise, if you want to call Last Concert a dive, you can also make a case that some of its Tex-Mex is decent. Etta's Lounge in Third Ward slings a crunk catfish sandwich. The fare at the new Midtown chill-spot Community Bar looks like it might put everything else to shame, though. But again, its dive bar credentials are shaky at best.

So in short, if you want to be a dive bar gourmand, your best bet is to either stick to icehouses, become a dive bar regular (or the friend of one) and partake of potlucks, or bring your own food in.

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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.