The University of Houston is making a small, albeit concerted, effort at creating a rich campus experience, and The Den (although technically off-campus) is at the very heart of that. Bright, clean, and welcoming, The Den is both a social space for students and a dyed-in-the-wool Cougar sports bar. Keeping in line with its on-campus location, the bar menu is focused on the college-going demographic with lots of shots and stiff drinks. But the craft beer selection is also solid, with a strong focus on local brewers like Saint Arnold, Karbach, and Southern Star. The food includes a short but thoughtful line of sandwiches. Considering the full package, The Den is easily the best place to celebrate the renaissance of UH sports.
Sporting an upscale icehouse–meets–hunting lodge vibe, Little Woodrow’s sprawling format—there are six Houston locations—features seating and lounge space galore, inside and out. These bars aren’t the same bro-centric frat scene they were just a few years ago, either. With the entire chain now dedicated to quality liquor, craft beer, and customer service, Little Woodrow’s has grown up along with its clientele. The Shepherd location boasts one of the largest bars in town, with 50 beers on draft and more TVs than a Best Buy, making it the most sports-centric of the Little Woodrow’s family.
Lucky’s now boasts three locations, but the one downtown, located just north of BBVA Compass Stadium, is always our choice. Situated less than a mile from three separate Houston stadiums, Lucky’s is a great pre- or post-game spot. The boisterous crowd harks back to the satellite dish days, when local sporting-event blackouts forced hometown crowds into the bars to catch games being played just a few miles away. Houston fans show up to Lucky’s en masse for just about any major sporting event, so finding a stranger to help you cheer on your out-of-town team shouldn’t be hard. The burgers are also worlds better than they have any right to be, which is an added bonus.
Being the best hockey bar in Toronto is an impressive feat. Being the best hockey bar in Houston really only requires being a hockey bar. Still, the Maple Leaf is a solid all-around watering hole as well as a flat-out fantastic place to watch an NHL game. Thursday’s steak night is a solid bet, serving up giant slab rib-eyes for under $15. Bartenders and patrons alike are so friendly, you might think you stumbled across the border into our neighbor to the north, eh.
Known almost as much for its karaoke as its sports offerings, the multilevel Mezzanine can’t quite decide what kind of bar it is—and is all the better for it. You’re just as likely to see a drag queen singing Stevie Wonder as you are bros downing Fireball shots or trivia geeks, and that’s just fine with us. For the hardcore sports fan, the Mezzanine has just about every TV package available to man, including both Comcast and DirecTV.
From the wood paneling and vinyl chairs to the buzzing neon signs and ragged Bud Light posters, Nick’s is, through and through, an old-school neighborhood sports bar. Don’t let the no-frills façade fool you: there’s a reason Nick’s has served West Houston sports fans for over 20 years. Billing itself as an Italian sports bar, it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, cranking out pizzas, calzones, and even breakfast sandwiches. With its busy decor, memorabilia-lined ceilings, and what seems like hundreds of TVs, this is the perfect spot for the ADD-afflicted sports fan.