Top Five "Non-Bro" Sports Bars

From the response I got to the question "What is your favorite 'non-dude / non-bro' or 'douchebag-free' place to watch sports in Houston?" on Facebook, it would seem that a sans-bro sports bar is something of an oxymoron, the majority of responses falling somewhere along the lines of "in my living room" or "on my couch."

Then again, there could be some confusion about the meaning of the word "bro." Bro is not a euphemism for those with a Y chromosome, as finding a sports bar entirely devoid of men would be damn-near impossible and not nearly as enjoyable (for me, at least). The "bros" referred to in this article are defined by Urban Dictionary as:

An alpha male idiot...white, 16-25 years old, inarticulate, belligerent, talks about nothing but chicks and beer, drives a jacked up truck that's plastered with stickers, has rich dad that owns a dealership or construction business and constantly tells this to chicks at parties...identifies excessively with brand names, spends a female amount of money on clothes and obsesses over his appearance to a degree that is not socially acceptable for a heterosexual male.

Luckily, bros have specific behavior patterns that make avoiding them relatively easy. They usually travel in packs, gravitating toward the newest bars in whatever the neighborhood of the moment may be (think Sawyer Park, Lucky's, and Pub Fiction). For bro-opposers looking to grab a beer and watch the game, avoid locations with an ungodly number of flat-screen TVs, and establishments where the waitresses' attire could be described as "Hooter-ific," a few of my "no bro" suggestions are listed below.

5. Big Woodrow's Houston has always been home to a sizable number of New Orleans sports fans, even more so now since the population influx following Hurricane Katrina. Bayou City fans of the Saints call themselves the "Hou-Dats," and their headquarters is Big Woodrow's on Chimney Rock. And fans of the black and gold tend to be as lively and fun as the city from which they came, a contributing factor to the easy-going atmosphere at the bar. While Big Woodrow's hosts several annual events with a high potential to attract mass quantities of bros (like a Pregnant Bikini Contets and the annual Redneck Games), their outer loop address tends to draw a slightly older, more diverse crowd with a serious passion for sports, both local and Crescent City variety.

4. Kenneally's Irish Pub You'd be hard pressed to find a more devoted Rockets fan than Kenneally's owner John Flowers. If there's a game being played, it will be on in the bar, along with a faithful gathering of regulars. While it's more Irish pub than sports bar, Flowers's unconditional love of the team is infectious, making it one of the best places to watch hometown basketball, even despite the absence of high-tech audio visual amenities. Not to mention the fact that I lay awake some nights fantasizing about their signature thin-crust pizza, truly some of the city's best.

3. PJ's Of all the bars on this list, PJ's is by far the biggest dive. The walls are plastered with a menagerie of dated sports memorabilia and the furniture seems to be a collection of whatever they could find. Sure, it's a great place to watch a game, but what sets PJ's apart is the warm, family-like atmosphere. It is, after all, a renovated old house, and a neighborhood bar in the most literal sense of the word -- many of the patrons live, or once lived, in the surrounding area. Owner PJ Maestro loves his regulars, and if you go often enough you're likely to be greeted at the bar by name, and get your birthday posted on their website.

2. Christian's Tailgate (Heights) When owner Steve Christian announced he was opening a second Christian's Tailgate location in Midtown, everyone thought he was nuts. Even the Houston Press's Nightfly column called it "an ill fit with its new neighborhood" and said, "the place will do stellar lunchtime business but [we aren't] sure about its staying power as a bar." That was six years ago, and it's safe to say no one is laughing now. He's since opened several more bars, but we remain partial to the original location on Washington for the exact reason no one thought it would work in the land of spray tans and Range Rovers. The crowd is salt of the earth, the waitstaff seasoned and quick with a sassy comeback, and the gigantic burgers simply cannot be beat.

1. Griff's Not only is Griff's one of the best sports bars in town, it's also the oldest, established in 1965 by Michael Griffin, a guy who just wanted to open a neighborhood bar where he could hang out and watch sports with his friends. The bar has since changed hands, but the new owners take special care in continuing the traditions started by Griffin, most notably "Griff's Army," a pack of devoted sports enthusiasts who congregate at the Montrose-area bar and take occasional field trips to baseball, football, basketball, and hockey games in the Griff's Party Bus, a hilarious monstrosity created from an old school bus, sporting an open-air section at the rear.

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