For the out-of-towners
A visitor's guide to Houston watering holes
Two things are certain about those of you visiting Houston for the holidays. One: you will need a break from your family and a beer; we all will. Two: it's a known fact that newbies can often come away from our city with a poor first impression.
So before you try to brave our freeway systems or relegate yourselves to chains you recognize, please consult this list of ten low-key bars around town where you can enjoy a few pints or a glass of wine and unwind.
Cedar Creek and Onion Creek in the Heights are perfect spots to sit on the patio or gather in a cozy corner and chat over a Texas beer. With a distinctly Austin vibe, the only real difference between the two —they're from the same owners— is that Cedar offers liquor in addition to beer and wine. Both spots have good grub, too.
Poison Girl also has a sweet outdoor set-up, littered with oddities like mismatched lawn furniture and a giant Kool-aid man. They've got pinball inside their red-walled main bar, and as long as you're at home (or at ease) with hipsters and art students, it's one of the best spots in Montrose.
If you're looking for a more European vibe, grab a table upstairs at Agora and do some people watching. The Greek coffee house and bar is totally open, with "upstairs" being more a narrow balcony around the perimeter just wide enough for tables. Just beware the ultra steep stairs, especially after a couple bevs.
Red Lion Pub is the place to be for authentic (and delicious) fish n' chips and a huge beer selection full of stuff you don't see other places —we'd try an Old Speckled Hen.
For a more subdued scene in the West University and Rice Village area, we recommend Hans' Bier Haus. They've got 125 domestic and imported beers, and a beer garden complete with bocce ball.
Lucky's Pub downtown is chill, but massive. There's plenty of room to take a group (i.e. the cool cousins in your age range) if you want to watch a game in EaDo, which is something to explore in itself.
If even the family dog needs a breather from the holiday chaos, it's welcome at St. Danes. This open-air midtown sports bar is all benches and beer and is super dog-friendly.
Washington avenue is known for its blaring club scenes most weekends, but there are plenty of places to grab a beer here, too. The Dubliner, a little bungalow-turned-bar across the street from the much more conspicuous Pearl Bar, is one of our favorites. We love the bartender (it's the accent) and the trust they have in their patrons —there's a perpetually unlocked fridge full of beer in the corner. We'd never sneak one, but we think it's cute you can.
For the wine lovers, Corkscrew, also on Washington avenue, has great selection without the snobbery. It's housed in a historic 1915 building, and they've got some great snackage including homemade truffles.