Ticking down to 2010
New Year's Eve options OTL (Outside the Loop)
The other day I mentioned to a friend that I was having lunch at a restaurant in CityCentre. She recommended I pack a sandwich for the ride. Living near downtown, the thought of driving out to the Beltway seems daunting, not to mention time consuming. I grew up off of I-10 and spent half of my life avoiding that infamous highway from hell. But with the recent addition of many more lanes, traffic on the Katy Freeway flows much more smoothly and any concerns I had about getting stuck in gridlock quickly flew out the window. It took less than 15 minutes to arrive at my destination — roughly the same amount of time it would have taken me to navigate through Galleria traffic.
If you are looking for some alternatives to celebrating New Year’s Eve inside the loop, fear not. There are several options OTL (outside the loop) and ITB (inside the Beltway) that are not as far away as you would think.
- Located in a strip center, Ron’s Pub is a carpeted romper room with a big screen TV, pool table, trivia games and soccer memorabilia interior design. It has been a cornerstone in the Tanglewood/Memorial area for over 20 years. I have friends from high school who have been regulars since we turned 21 (and let's just say a few years have passed). With its laid-back vibe, strong drinks and countless repeat customers, this place has the formula for success figured out
- The Tasting Room Uptown Park offers a wide selection of wines and bites with enthusiasm and expertise. It also offers live music and a sprawling patio. On my last visit, I ran into an old friend from college and his wife. A businessman was working on his laptop and local hair guru, Ceron, was chatting with friends at the bar. A fun thing about this wine bar is the people watching. You never know who may see
- Looking for a cool, contemporary bar outside the loop? The Monnalisa Lounge at the Hotel Sorella is your spot. I remember when this part of the Beltway was associated with a mall and a movie theater — and that was it. So imagine my surprise when I walked into this sleek space to find a sleek space with a central fire pit, a serious cocktail list and a view of a sexy infinity pool. Suburbia never looked so good
- It seems like I have visited The Black Swan in the Omni Hotel after at least half of the weddings I have attended. While you will feel totally comfortable hanging out in your bridesmaid dress, it’s also a great place to visit when you are not in formal attire. The bar offers a great selection and there are a lot of great looking people, but the dance floor is my favorite thing about the place. Feel free to cut loose to the tunes the DJ is spinning. It is just dark and crowded enough that no one will notice you doing the Elaine dance.
- While on the way to the pool this summer with a few friends, we were benched by an unexpected torrential rainstorm. What to do? We had already seen every movie at the multiplex. Since we were in southwest Houston, we decided to stop by Dave & Busters. We spent hours playing every race car, basketball and video arcade game in the place; I left with what felt like a serious case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Oh, and the bar offers a full range cocktails, beer, wine and margaritas. It was a blast and it will not take another rainy day to get me to return.