As Houston prepares to welcome visitors who have traveled here to share in the spectacle of the NCAA Final Four, one question is on everyone's mind. "Where should we party with our friends from out of town?"
Fear not. We're here to help.
With Final Four activities like Fan Fest and the March Madness Music Festival happening at the George R. Brown and Discovery Green respectively, much of the action will be centered downtown. Here then are a few suggestions for places in downtown, Midtown and EaDo that should be lively all weekend.
Just bring a little patience. With thousands of visitors flooding the area and streets closed for the festivities, expect traffic and parking to be a hassle.
Where to Eat
El Big Bad
Located in Market Square, this two-story bar and restaurant is devoted to two of Houstonians' favorite things: tacos and tequila. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner all weekend, choose from tacos made with locally-sourced ingredients like beef from 44 Farms and pair it with cocktails made with El Big Bad's signature infused tequilas. Non-Texans should probably avoid the blueberry, jalapeno, and cilantro margarita, but the cocktail's spicy heat is addictive.
Prohibition Supperclub & Bar
The downtown restaurant recently introduced a new menu that brings a few steakhouse touches to Southern flavors created by executive chef Matt Wommack and culinary director Ben McPherson. Starters include New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, raw oysters, and beef tartare while entrees range from pasta to smoked fried chicken to a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye. An extensive selection of craft beer and cocktails complements the food. Inquire about staying for the burlesque show on either Friday or Saturday.
Pappa Charlies Barbeque
Located a short walk from the George R Brown, Pappa Charlies serves authentic, Central Texas-style barbecue. Pitmaster Wesley Jurena's brisket as a peppery bark, but it's his pork ribs, with their sweet and spicy glaze, that are downright addictive.
Where to Drink
The 300 Block of Main St
No block in Houston offers more variety for people who are serious about cocktails and spirits. The Pastry War features an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal, and Moving Sidewalk offers innovative cocktails and hand-cut ice. Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar and Spirit Lodge serves well-made classic cocktails and has one of Houston's best whiskey selections, while the Nightingale Room brings live music and a high energy vibe. For something more sedate, consider Little Dipper or The Honeymoon (also home to a killer brunch on Saturday Sunday).
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
The downtown branch of the nationwide craft beer chain features one of the city's most interesting tap walls. All the local favorites are accounted for, but the bar also features national and regional producers. Best of all, the staff really knows their stuff and can guide people to the perfect ultra-hoppy IPA, funky sour, or something a little more "sessionable."
8th Wonder Brewery
The EaDo brewery is paying homage to Houston's history by displaying a section of the floor from the 1971 Final Four that took place in the Astrodome. Beyond that, the brewery will feature its usual selection of well-crafted, easy-drinking beers along with dishes from the companion Eatsie Boys food truck. Hoops fans can test their skills on an inflatable, mini hoops shootout.
Where to Party
This Midtown nightclub has been a hit since it opened last summer. At over 9,000-square feet, it offers room for up to 1,200 people to dance all night in Vegas-style luxury. Be prepared to spend big bucks on bottle service to secure one of the 28 booths, but how does one put a price on making champagne-soaked memories?
The bigger, better reincarnation of Celtic Gardens opened with a bang over St. Patrick's Day weekend, and things won't slow down as Final Four revelers look for Midtown's hotspots. The newly remodeled space features a large outdoor bar with an expanded selection of craft beer, but most people will probably be knocking down vodka-Red Bulls until last call.
For a slightly more boutique nightclub experience, consider this recently opened near the border of Montrose and Midtown. With its ornate decorations and wrap around video board, VrSI delivers all the luxury one could want from a high-end nightclub with just enough craft touches to justify the rather astonishing bottles prices. Don't worry, the gold cocktail dress servers will make sure everyone feels like a VIP.