Happy Hour Scene: Expanding our Horizons at Pub Fiction

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The Place: Pub Fiction 2303 Smith 713-400-8400 www.pubfiction.com The Deals: $2 domestics, $3 select imports, $4 vodka drinks. Food specials vary. The Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays The Scene: Pub Fiction is a clean bar. Which isn't to say that filthy things don't happen there, as they do at most Midtown bars that cater to patrons in their twenties and thirties.

That is to say it's not the sort of place you'd describe as having character. It's like a spacious, well-polished halfway house for frat boys and sorority girls transitioning from campus to family life, with a little bit of the Affliction crowd thrown in. It's a centralized location for this demographic to hook up and bro down and drink relatively cheaply after work. As a friend put it, it feels like a bar in Clear Lake, without the waterfront. The drinking equivalent of a Gables apartment complex. Sometimes it smells like Axe body spray, or so I've heard.

It's not my kind of bar, but it works for some people. On late Monday afternoon I went there with a coworker, and the patio was nice enough. It did not smell like any brand of body spray. And unlike some tumbleweed happy hours in the area, Pub Fiction draws a decent number of patrons.

Some of them are committed post-work drinkers. At the table behind us, a girl in a group said, "I'm terrified of getting a dog because I wouldn't be able to come to happy hour. Or, you know, like really enjoy happy hour, at least." I might say the same about kids, but a dog? That's inspiring.

The wind picked up and we left the patio for two barstools. I ordered a couple 99-cent sliders from the bartender, who was sweet but pronounced the word "domestic" like "DOE-mestic" and poured my Guinness over a spoon without letting the beer settle before topping it off. That's a hanging matter some places, but I can't see anyone saying anything here. (It was actually sort of nostalgic for me. The first drink I ever ordered at a bar was a Guinness in New Orleans at some cheesy college hangout Uptown. It cost something like $4, came in a 24-ounce plastic cup and tasted like nickels. I was 18 and loved it.)

We ate the sliders, which were adequate though smaller than most, and watched a Texas Rangers game on TV. I didn't expect any revelations from a happy hour trip to Pub Fiction, but I got a couple anyway.

First, aviators seem to be edging out Ray-Bans in a return to sunglasses dominance. Second, '90s radio music is the new '80s radio music, which makes sense if you consider when '80s radio music started coming back. Plan accordingly.

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