Best Bar for Brunching: Local Pour
This sister to the original River Oaks location is ideal for lazy weekend brunching with a view—of a manmade lake, but still. Woodlanders decamp here for Sunday meals like the popular chimichurri steak skillet, crab cake Benedict and Belgian waffles. Weekdays, meanwhile, bring white-collar workers from the nearby Exxon campus, who elbow up to the wood-paneled bar to partake in the wide selection of beers.
Best Bar for a Rooftop View: Crush Wine Lounge
Whether you’re after a quiet night of cocktails or a rooftop dance party, this is the ideal destination for area residents who don’t want to deal with Inner Loop drama. Inside, dapper patrons enjoy the extensive wine and cocktail list under ambient lighting, to a jazz soundtrack. On the rooftop patio, pretty young things get down to DJ sets and mingle amid the comfortable lounge furniture.
Best Bar for a Waterfront View: The Goose’s Acre Bistro & Irish Pub
A clock counts down to St. Patrick’s Day at this see-and-be-seen pub on the bustling Woodlands Waterway as Irish literary legends such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce stare down from the walls. Diners indulge in favorites such as corned beef with cabbage and shepherds pie, while sports fanatics and happy hour toasters partake in trivia and listen to local musicians strum.
Best Bar to Grab a Growler: Hop Scholar Ale House
What this hole-in-the-wall bar lacks in décor, it makes up for in good beer and even better service. Knowledgeable bartenders eagerly educate all comers on the properties of the 47 rotating beers on tap. They’ll also fill your growler, so you can enjoy your craft beer in the comfort of your own home.
Best Bar for Pretending Houston Never Happened: Mittelstaedt’s
A Coen Brothers movie come to life, this side-of-the-road bar/grocery store/makeshift town hall is a true slice of rural Houston, offering up cold beers and plenty of communal chatter. Old-timers share stories about haggling with highfalutin city folk, while cigarette-wielding ladies call out the answers to Wheel of Fortune as if Pat Sajak himself could hear their cries. The place also offers cheap, just-plain-good meals for weary road warriors, including a gigantic pork chop and a hearty plate of meatloaf. Belly on up.