Houston's bar scene hops through the decade
It is hard for me to believe, but the '00s have come to a close and a new decade has commenced. So much has happened during the course of the past 10 years, not least to our Houston nightlife. Who ever heard of Midtown or Washington Avenue in 1999? Here are some of the biggest changes in the bar scene that the new millennium has brought on.
Besides being a great place to grab a beer and watch a ball game, Little Woodrow’s on West Alabama had an easy feel about it. The atmosphere was laid-back, the crowd was friendly and although not small, it seemed like a quaint neighborhood bar. I realize there are other locations still open for business, but for me, this old favorite is unparalleled.
The Ale House has long since been torn down to make room for a parking lot. This place had so much character. Allegedly haunted, stories of chairs rearranging themselves and glasses flying off the counters were common and only added intrigue to this cool little bar.
The scene at La Strada was always entertaining. A melting pot of people, it drew a fun, diverse crowd. It also put the Bottomless Bellini on the map. A Houston landmark, there was never a dull moment at this establishment that finally shut its doors for good last month after a slow death since the 2002 fire.
In the Closet
Rich’s, one of Houston’s most well known and popular gay nightlife spots, is now a straight dance club.
The Rise of the Wine Bar
Great food and wine have become a part of our culture; thus, wine is a big thing nowadays. Everybody talks about it and everybody drinks it. Houston went from having very few wine bars (La Carafe) to a sea of trendy options. A few significant additions to the scene include The Tasting Room, The Wine Bucket, 13 Celsius, Max's Wine Dive, So Vino and Cova.
Times are changing and so comes a new list of popular libations. Walk into almost any hip restaurant or bar and the drink menu will likely contain concoctions made with infused fruit and specialty liquors. Places like The Rockwood Room, Anvil Bar & Refuge and Red Room have helped bolster this drift with the reintroduction of drinks like the Fuzzy Navel, Side Car and Pimm’s Cup.
The Restaurant Bar Scene
Tony’s, Armando’s and Bar Annie have all moved locations in recent years. As far as a solid cocktail goes, as well as some pretty sound people watching, this scene is always reliable; however, the change of surroundings can take some getting used to.
Bottle service usually entails one marked up bottle of booze plus standard mixers. Although expensive and a bit pretentious, it became common and often a requirement in order to reserve a table. Now, with the economic downtown, bottle service seems to be waning. For those of you who enjoy not having to wait in line at the bar, not to worry. I predict this is one trend that will see its way back into the fold.
Name That Tune
Fitzgerald’s, Rudyard’s and Continental Club are local staples on the music scene, but newcomers such as the House of Blues, Warehouse Live and The Meridian have come along to offer a wider range of options. A moment of silence, please, to say good-bye to the Satellite Lounge, Rhythm Room and Cosmos. All have closed their doors within the past decade.
Out of the recession has come the reinvention of the '70’s house party. It has become more mainstream for folks to get dressed up, crack open a few bottles and entertain friends at home rather than hit the town. You may not meet as many new people, but it cuts back on cost, you have a safe place to crash and there is something to be said about spending the evening with close friends.
Still The Same After All These Years
Volcano, Warren’s Inn, Kenneally’s, Leon’s Lounge and '80s night at Numbers. I mention these places not because they have been torn down, added a bunch of bells and whistles or really seen any type of major alteration, but because I seek some comfort in the fact that there are still some things that never change.