One of the best ways to guarantee you enjoy any convention is to remember to take breaks away from it. After hours of being on your feet among thousands of fellow fans, it's important to get away for an hour or two, sit down for a while and get some nourishment. Besides that, do you really want to spend your money on overpriced "con food" inside the convention hall when there are plenty of good places to eat and drink within half a mile? (Okay, maybe you do if you're waiting to meet Stan Lee...but after that...)
The following places have confirmed that they welcome your business during Comicpalooza, even if you are in costume. In fact, some of these places really want you to show up if you're in costume. In costume or not, remember your dining-out manners. Just because you're dressed like The Joker doesn't give you a license to try and act like him.
As far as cosplayers walking to restaurants and bars, Houston hasn't reached the level of San Diego, where cosplayers essentially take over the area of downtown near the convention center. However, we'll never get that kind of environment without a few of us brave ones starting the trend. Walking with a few companions will likely give you the most comfortable experience.
There is one place where you are specifically NOT welcome if you're in costume, and that's Bad News Bar. Unfortunately, it's a case where a prior group's over-the-top, disruptive behavior ruined it for the rest of us. Thanks, jerks. Now we'll never be able to get a photo of Harley Quinn on that lovely balcony there. Sigh.
All of these destinations are reachable on foot, but if you don't want to get sweaty or it's not feasible for you to walk to your destination (due to high-heeled boots, clunky Stormtrooper costumes, etc.), here are your options:
• Get a cab. You're going such a short distance that your fare should be quite reasonable • Download the Lyft app to your smart phone and summon a rideshare driver • Grab the free Greenlink bus that picks up right from the George R. Brown Convention Center. (You may still have to walk a few blocks from the closest dropoff point to your destination.)
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Batanga loves cosplayers so much, it's offering a 20% discount off your meal if you dine there in costume. Batanga specializes in Spanish tapas and cocktails.
This funky, two-story joint features infused tequilas (and cocktails made with said tequilas), Tex-Mex and interior Mexican food. They heartily welcome Comicpalooza attendees and are extending their happy hour just for those in costume. Normally it runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., but if you're in costume, Comicpalooza time IS your happy hour. That's right; happy hour pricing applies for those in costume during the entire run of the convention. That's worth getting dressed up for.
To top it off, the extremely talented and fun Jonathan Jones just took over as chef there, so we expect the menu will include comforting, filling and flavorful dishes.
Goro & Gun is an izakaya, which means it has casual, fun, Japanese-inspired dishes. We'd like to see the place filled with anime characters. Cosplayers are welcome, and over the next few days, Goro & Gun is featuring its crawfish ramen. That's right; it's like Cajun-Japanese fusion. That's the way we do it in Houston.
Also, happy hour runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day and features a range of beers and truly excellent cocktails from $3 to $6. We love the "Line Cook" cocktail, with bourbon, house tamarind bitters and ginger beer.
Hot convention? How about a cold beer? The Flying Saucer has dozens both in the bottle and on tap as well as a hearty, bar-friendly menu. They're still deciding what it will be, but you should keep an eye on their Twitter feed for a potential Comicpalooza special on Saturday.
Feeling fancy? Vic & Anthony's might be an upper-scale steakhouse, but they don't turn their noses up at costumed characters. They're normally only open for dinner, but they do offer lunch on Friday, so you can both eat some great food and take advantage of lunchtime pricing.
It's also a known haunt of celebrities, so you might get a glimpse of some of Comicpalooza's special guests while you're there. But don't bug them while they're eating, OK? Be nice. Celebs are people, too.
Quattro and Vinoteca at The Four Seasons
You might spy a few celebs if you chill out in the bars or restaurants at The Four Seasons. We don't know if costumes are allowed at this upscale hotel, but we do know that a glass of wine near a window that overlooks downtown is a great way to relax. At Vinoteca Wine Bar, the "All 4 You" happy hour from means that everything on the bar menu is a mere $4 between 4 and 7 pm.
Reserve 101 is a whiskey bar near The Four Seasons hotel and they serve light bites (mostly in the form of flatbreads). You and your costume are welcome to come drink some of the 300+ whiskey selection, the biggest collection in Houston.
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You just aren't living right if you haven't had a margarita in Houston and The Pastry War serves some of the best in town. Or, explore a selection of hard-to-find, small batch mezcals and tequilas. Happy hour is available weekdays (that's today and Monday, for you Comicpalooza attendees) and runs from 4 to 6:30 pm. During happy hour, Mexican beer is $3, margaritas are $5 and games of pool are free.
If you feel guilty about drinking, The Original OKRA Charity Saloon can help. You see, when you buy a drink here, you get a ticket that you can cast as a vote for one of four different charities. At the end of the month, the charity with the most tickets gets a donation of the bar's profits. These donations are not chump change; the charities often receive $10,000 and more. So, rub shoulders with the upwardly-mobile crowd of young professionals and drink for a cause. Try not to get stage makeup on anyone.