Drinking, Not Driving

Going Car-less for a Night: A Bar Crawl on the Metro

A guide to getting lit up on the light rail

By Emma Hurt January 29, 2015

The 300 block of Main Street is the place to be on weekend nights.

A common Houston problem: how to manage cars, parking, and nights with alcohol. While our metro system is not exactly that of New York City, it is in fact a modern light rail system with one of the highest figures of ridership per mile in the country as well as a great method of transportation for a night on the H-town, especially thanks to the growing number of nightlife options on the Red Line. (We can’t wait to see what the Green and Purple have in store.)

We’ve put together a tried-and-true suggested route of a “metro bar crawl” that should (at least temporarily) relieve you of creepy Uber drivers and parking hassles.

But first, some general light rail tips for those who might need a refresher:

  • One single-ride rail pass ($1.25) will last you three hours
  • While most street parking will be free after 6 p.m., METRO also offers suggestions for parking lots along the line.
  • On Fridays and Saturdays the rail runs until about 3 a.m. Check the online timetable as you go so you can plan when to leave the bar and not have to wait too long on the platform.

With that said, grab your Q card and get ready to experience some Houstonian urbanism.

Double Trouble serves coffee and cocktails all day long.

Image: Emma Hurt

1st Stop at Ensemble/HCC

Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails
3622 Main St.
Kick off the night with a coffee cocktail at Double Trouble. The crowd is eclectic, the atmosphere is chill, and the drinks are delicious. Plus, there’s nothing like a jolt of caffeine and alcohol to get the crawl started. Try the belly-warming Wahaca for a whipped cream-topped mezcal, coffee, and Frangelico concoction, or the Bruce Lee for a gin, ginger, and apple cinnamon cocktail.

2nd Stop at McGoWen

Mongoose Versus Cobra
1011 McGowen St.
Take it up a notch with the playful but sophisticated Midtown hangout from 13 Celsius owners Ian Rosenberg and Mike Sammons. The ivy-covered building is home to a highly curated list of beers and skillful cocktails. It also has arguably the best tonic water in Houston, made in-house. They keep the recipe under wraps, but the orange-reddish concoction served in miniature medicine bottles allegedly contains lemon, orange, peppercorns, lime, and salt, among its other mystery ingredients. By the way, if you’re feeling peckish, go for Mongoose's massive pretzel.

The Pastry War is your one-stop-shop for all things tequila.

Image: Emma Hurt

3rd Stop at Preston

There are many options along this booming section of Main Street. Here are just a few suggestions.

The Pastry War
310 Main St.
A gem in the Clumsy Butcher group’s collection, this is your place for tequila. The name comes from a brief conflict between Mexico and France in 1838, and as a result the bar highlights Mexican liquor with some French flourishes. The margarita cannot be ignored, but also perhaps try the Ponche Mule, featuring sibling bar Anvil’s house-made ginger beer, or the Jamaica Collins—a twist on the classic Tom Collins. Be forewarned though, The Pastry War's drink list is not that of your “typical” American establishment. (Read: Don’t be the guy who tries to order Fireball shots.)

314 Main St.
For a refreshing change, stop in at downtown’s longtime reigning dive bar, Notsuoh. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some good live music. Regardless, you’ll have a solid drink, meet some interesting people, and maybe pet the resident cat. The dark, bricolage interior is also unlike anything else in the neighborhood.

Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lounge
308 Main St.
While it might take you a second glance to find it, Bad News Bar ends up being worth the search and the trip up the stairs. The balcony makes for great people watching and a breath of fresh air, and the establishment’s devil-may-care attitude sets a fun but understated tone.

Potential Detour: Roma’s Pizza (233 Main St.) is great for that late-night deliciously greasy pizza you might find yourself craving. And it’s open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Notsuoh is downtown's reigning dive bar.

Image: Emma Hurt

4th Stop (Back) at McGovern

2404 San Jacinto St.
I know what you are thinking at this stage of the night. Where is the dancing? Let me tell you: the dancing is here. When making your way back south, be sure to close out the night correctly at the Houston counterpart to Austin’s video dance club, Barbarella (open until 3 a.m., although last call is still 2 a.m.).

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