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The five best honky tonks in Houston

Blanco's may have slower service, but they've got koozies for loan behind the bar. Photo by Derek Key/Flickr
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I've come to love the giant silver-plated, red-eyed — and horned — armadillo in front of Goode's Armadillo Palace.
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One of said crack team poses behind the bar with the medieval tab-keeping system. Photo by Caroline Gallay

The rodeo is long over and our month of cowboy coverage is winding down, but there's no time limit on two-steppin'.  Just head to one of Houston's honky tonks. Be sure to walk your boots into a good one though.

My crack team and I spent a week traipsing around the city's country western bars (official CultureMap business) and here's the best we found:

  1. Blanco's - One of my all-time favorite western bars, Blanco's is a low key hole-in-the-wall beer joint that's impossible not to love. We overheard this on open-mic night (Wednesday): "One rule; don't play no hippie music. You can play whatever you want as long as it doesn't have an endless guitar solo. Only person who can play Jimi Hendrix is Jimi and he's dead, so .... them's the rules." The bar stools are worn and the service can be slow, but they've got house Koozies for loan.
  2. Firehouse Saloon - We were immediately charmed when we opened a tab and realized the bar-tending system was old school — complete with clothes pins and a clothesline from which to hang the credit cards and receipts. They may not have the makings for a martini, but this dance-friendly place had great live music and doesn't mind if you stick your beer labels (or your gum) on the ceiling.
  3. Goode's Armadillo Palace - I was ready to hate the place when it first opened because of the gigantic, silver-plated, glowing red-eyed armadillo out front, but I've come to love it. It's a preppy haven (although the night we were there, a FotoFest event had brought a decidedly unusual crowd) with shuffleboard, pool, live music and the most comfortable bar stools ever — just be careful if you're in a skirt.
  4. Wild West - It takes a lot to get me out to the Richmond strip, but this was worth it, even on a slow night. I've heard tales of ass-less chaps and dance-offs that have me wanting to go back, this time with a camera. Think of it as the Hush of honky tonks. Body glitter is encouraged.
  5. Rebels - It's got easy access on Washington Avenue and an enormous dance floor — although the confederate flag pinned onstage was a bit of a turnoff. Still, if you want quick service (two bars) lots of space (huge patio, too) and the novelty of wearing your western kicks to beat the beat up at Ei8ht, Roosevelt or Reign, it's a swell spot.
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