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Fine … I’ll date myself. I first visited decades-old downtown stalwart Warren’s Inn some 20 years ago, as a college student. A few years later, after I got a job nearby, it became the bar for my coworkers and me—an old-school, non-douchey spot with gilded mirrors, a horseshoe-shaped bar for the regulars, long tables for larger groups, a fantastic jukebox, a weird gazebo, and, in my mind’s eye, a grubby yet golden patina over everything, including my memories.

I’ve been on many dates to Warren’s. I’ve cried outside it after at least one tragic New Year’s Eve (back in my twenties, when I cared about New Year’s Eve). At my old job I helped send off numerous colleagues from the bar, at countless goodbye happy hours, until one day it was time for my own last day and sendoff.

I adore working at the Houstonia House in the Heights, but there are days when I miss the urban grittiness of my old stomping grounds, something that became especially apparent as we put together this month’s super-fun guide to everything downtown, which, by the way, has changed as much as I have over the years, with new additions such as high-rises, food halls, and modern parks—including the revamped Market Square Park, across from the bar—coming in.

Some things, though, have stayed the same, such as good, ol’ Warren’s, and my steadfast love for it. Some friends and I met up there, in fact, on my last birthday. (Ahem. Do the math.) Never been but want to pay a visit? There are a few key things to know about this Houston treasure.

  1. Don’t stare at the bartender. She’ll get to you when she gets to you.
  2. Don’t order an overly complicated drink.
  3. Do order a martini.
  4. If the place is packed, share your table.
  5. Distribute extra birthday cake to surrounding patrons.
  6. If, after enjoying one of the strong pours, you suddenly find yourself in need of something to eat, hit Niko Niko’s on Market Square, or Frank’s Pizza down the street.
  7. Never question the wisdom of the tough-as-nails female staff. Under any circumstances.
  8. Leave immediately when ordered to do so (as once happened to our group after an old coworker of mine, in a foolish moment right after the smoking ban took effect, lit a cigarette inside). Do not beg, plead, or make the case that you had no involvement in the crime. Pay the tab and walk out!

In general, behave. Not only is it the right thing to do, but you’ll be welcomed back. And you’ll definitely want to be back.

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