Bar Beat

Dive Bar Eats: At Best, A Mixed Bag

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.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax