One of the Houston’s hottest new bars is basking in the national spotlight. Esquire magazine named EZ’s Liquor Lounge to its list of The Best Bars in America, 2023.
Notably, EZ’s, which is part of the Agricole Hospitality group that also includes Coltivare and Eight Row Flint, is the only Texas establishment that Esquire's editors included among the 31 bars on the list. After in Chicago, Tell Me Bar in New Orleans, and Jellyrolls at Disney World in Orlando, Florida are also among the honorees.
Agricole opened EZ's Liquor Lounge last year. It takes its inspiration from classic neighborhood bars that used to be staples in the Heights, such as Alice's Tall Texan and the Shiloh Club. Unlike those establishments, EZ's also serves carefully crafted cocktails and a tidy menu of food that someone would actually want to eat.
“You’d think a great dive bar couldn’t be built; it could only be arrived at through decades of benign neglect. You’d think that, at least, until you visited EZ’s Liquor Lounge,” writer Beth Ann Fennelly declares. She praises the decor that includes vintage neon signs and recommends patrons try the Hillbilly Highball cocktail, which is made with peanut butter bourbon and Mexican Coke.
In a separate introductory essay, the magazine notes that all of the bars on this year's list offered a fresh perspective or distinct environment. “This is our 18th edition of the list, and in all my years of bar crawls, I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much spirited originality — as many bars that make you say, ‘So strange, yet so awesome,’” Esquire editor Kevin Sintumuang writes.
EZ’s operating partner Matt Tanner tells CultureMap that he’s thrilled with the recognition. He spent more than a year sourcing the vintage signs and other decor that give EZ’s its retro, dive bar-inspired atmosphere.
“We put together a place that we wanted to hang out and thought would be a good neighborhood bar,” Tanner tells CultureMap. “Turns out a lot of people enjoy it. It’s just a really great feeling to see people in there smiling, having a great time. Having Esquire come in and think it’s one of the best places in America, it’s just a really cool feeling.”