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Stage Lounge & Live Music

Image: Scott Doyle

Best Bar for Catching a Chinese Alt-Pop Band 

Stage Lounge & Live Music

Climb the stairs of Dun Huang Plaza to experience Houston’s closest thing to a Hong Kong open-mic night. There are TVs and couches for watching games, but the main draw is live music and karaoke. Bands play starting at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, the perfect time to dig into basil chicken nuggets and katsu curry. When the bartenders aren’t doing origami, they’re mixing Jolly Rancher shots and rum cocktails.

Best Bar for Pub Grub

Big Ben Tavern

Remember the days when people were really excited about gastropubs? The vogue may have faded, but the cuisine is as thoughtful as ever at this farm-to-table sports pub. While games play both indoors and on the patio, diners start with one of 30 beers on tap and work their way through a menu of British, Indian and Texan specialties. This makes for some interesting mash-ups. Chicken tikka with fried okra and a Scotch egg, anyone?

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Best Bar for Taking Inventory of Your Life

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Some of us aspire to write the great American novel. Others hope to make this cavernous beer hall’s Ring of Honor. Set your mind to it, and you too could drink 200 different beers and earn a plate on the bar’s walls or ceiling. Once you’ve accomplished that goal, it might be time to take stock of things. Or don’t, and order a plate of bratwurst before embarking on another 200.

Best Bar for Craft Cocktails, Sans the Commute

The Ginger Mule Tonics & Meals

At this petite bar across the street from the Flying Saucer in the Sugar Land Town Square, old-school tipples such as manhattans, gimlets and, of course, mules are updated with house mixers and Texas spirits—try the blood orange old-fashioned with Texas bourbon and house-made turbinado syrup. Happy hour is particularly sunny here, with mules, juleps and margaritas on offer for $6 until 7 p.m. The food shouldn’t be overlooked, either: Pair that boulevardier with beef-and-dumplings or avocado toast on a sweet pretzel bun.

Best Bar for Vietnamese Hot Pot

Vibe Lounge

Have you been missing the Asian nightclub experience since your last trip abroad? This Vietnamese-owned lounge recreates it with loud music, karaoke and a colorfully lit dance floor. Sports bar fans won’t be disappointed, either: there’s ESPN on TVs and a large, projected screen. Tuesday happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and continues until close. Use those discounts to splurge on dishes from the extensive menu, which includes grilled goat with lemongrass, quail with satay and butter, and a massive oxtail hot pot, sized for sharing.

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