The Best Bars in Houston

Authentic margaritas, well-balanced craft beers, and carefully mixed cocktails have found a home in the Bayou City. Great bars, cafés, and lounges scattered throughout downtown and Houston’s neighborhoods mean that locals and visitors are never far from some of the best drinks in town.

1641 Westheimer Road
Many a late night in Houston ends at Poison Girl, a beloved dive bar tucked between Westheimer Road’s antique stores and secondhand shops. You’ll find a full range of cocktails, beer, and wine at this eclectic bar, which has a wide outside patio perfect for lingering. While you’re there, make sure to snap a photo with the oversize Cabbage Patch Kid that greets visitors. Bored? Test your skills at the wall of pinball machines and arcade games. Poison Girl is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Be warned, however, that this place is popular—locking down a seat can be a challenge on the weekend.
419 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Like tequila? Then you’re going to love El Big Bad Bar and Kitchen. This “gastro-cantina” located in downtown Houston’s Market Square is a must-try spot thanks to its infused tequilas, fresh juice margaritas, and Mexican eats. The drink menu includes a pineapple and hibiscus margarita (tequila infused with pineapple and hibiscus, plus lemon, lime juice, and agave), the Champ #3 (cranberry- and churro-infused tequilas, agave, and fresh lemon and lime), and El Mule (ginger beer, fresh lime, and choice of infused tequila). On the food side, expect nachos, Gulf shrimp tacos, and stacked enchiladas. There’s also a booming happy hour and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
813 Congress Avenue
This offbeat bar envelops you in a time warp as soon as you walk through the historical building’s front door. Decades-old memorabilia adorn the walls instead of the TVs found in a typical sports bar, and in the evening you’ll find candles burning—which doesn’t help to dispel the long-told lore that the bar is inhabited by ghosts. It’s just one of those Houston gems you have to see for yourself. You might want to go to the restroom before you come, though—the ones here are tiny. Cash only.
2349 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Named after the 1947 Malcolm Lowry novel, Under the Volcano is beloved by Houston locals, who flock here for the live music and drink menu standouts like the strawberry-basil margaritas and the frozen screwdrivers. The bar is also home to one of Houston’s favorite steak nights on Thursdays and a solid brunch served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The best thing about Under the Volcano, however, is its inviting patio—the perfect spot to gather with friends and linger for an evening.
2000 Lyons Ave, Houston, TX 77020, USA
Houston‘s beer scene has commanded national attention for years thanks to its quality craft brews, and there’s no better place to sample some than at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Founded in the mid-1990s, it has the esteemed title of being the oldest craft brewery in Texas. Monday through Friday the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; there’s no charge for admission and brewery tours are offered at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Saturdays, the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is $10, which includes a souvenir glass and four 8 oz. tastings; tours are held at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. One lesser-known secret about the beer hall? It serves up excellent à la carte food, too.
1424 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Craft cocktails have been a thing for a while now, and Anvil Bar & Refuge, opened in 2009, was one of the first places to put Houston’s mixology scene on the map. Specializing in drinks that use local ingredients and house-made syrups, Anvil is the place to go if you’re serious about your spirits. Cocktail options may include the First Name Basis (chamomile-infused Brugal Especial white rum, lemon, hibiscus, and strawberry), the Anvil Pousse-Cafe (a layered shot with Citadelle dry gin, Pimm’s No. 1, Aperol, lemon, and mint), and the on-tap Nitro Cuba Libre (Plantation Original Dark rum, Cruzan Black Strap rum, Mexican Coca-Cola, lactose sugar, and Angostura bitters). While you’re there, be sure to peruse Anvil’s famous list of 100 classic cocktails, which features everything from a Pimm’s Cup to a mai tai.
314 S Main St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Notsuoh (that’s Houston backward) is a funky little dive bar that’s nearly impossible to fully describe—it’s one of those offbeat finds you have to visit in person to understand. The artists’ haven hosts poetry readings, live music, and film screenings around the clock, and the crowd here tends to be equally engaging; actor Robert Pattinson added the spot to his must-see list when he swung through town a few years ago. Check the Facebook page for news on upcoming events.
3622 Main St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Specializing in both coffee and booze, Double Trouble in Midtown Houston calls itself a one-stop shop for speeding up, or slowing down. The particularly pleasant baristas and bartenders serve locally roasted Greenway coffee, specialty cocktails, and microbrews.
1034 W 20th St, Houston, TX 77008, USA
People love the inclusive, hill country (i.e., Austin-like) vibe of Cedar Creek. It has a solid food menu, wide selection of beers, and refreshing frozen cocktails. The Frozen Mimosas are a brunch must, or if you’re there later in the day, go for a Country Ass Tea. Photo via Cedar Creek Facebook page
Brasil (cafe, 2604 Dunlavy St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Before you hit the counter at Café Brasil, let us introduce you to some of Houston‘s cleanest ingredients. Local cheese artisans the Houston Dairymaids provide the cheese. Pizza dough, pastries, and breads are made in-house. And the eggs are laid by nearby, free-range hens. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve arrived for breakfast (try the daily quiche), lunch (sample from cheese and charcuterie plates), or dinner (there’s a multitude of pizzas)—it’s a safe bet that whatever you order didn’t have to travel far to make it to your plate.
2706 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007, USA
Fitzgerald’s has been around since 1977, and has hosted some of the biggest names in music—like James Brown, Tina Turner, and the Ramones—in addition to giving a start to many local bands. The first floor of the two-story building has a full bar, small stage, and large back cobblestone patio with a separate bar. Upstairs is the main stage, accompanied by a full bar, balcony seating, and an inviting hardwood dance floor. Buy tickets online or at the door for shows several nights a week.
218 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Sip signature cocktails and dine in style at Hearsay Gastro Lounge in of Market Square in Downtown Houston. Much like the handsomely refurbished 19th century brick building in which Hearsay is located, the restaurant puts a chic and elevated twist on classic American entrées, sandwiches, and salads. The lounge has a well stocked bar that serves finely crafted cocktails and an extensive menu of wines and beer. It’s a great place to grab a late night cocktail or bottomless mimosas at Hearsay’s popular Saturday jazz brunch. Image courtesy of Hearsay Gastro Lounge.
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