Best Bars 2016

Where to Drink Right Now in Rice Village and Bellaire

Including the best bar for crossing off a Houston bucket list item.

By Alice Levitt February 1, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Under the Volcano

Image: Scott Doyle

Best Bar for Channeling Your Malcolm Lowry

Under the Volcano

This beloved bar takes its name from the English author’s 1947 novel about the final day in the life of an alcoholic Brit in Mexico, on Día de los Muertos. In keeping with the theme, the festival for the dead is always in full swing here. Strawberry-basil margaritas and frozen versions of classics such as rum-and-Coke and screwdrivers are popular, as is Monday steak night, when juicy cuts are served with salad, garlic mashed potatoes and chimichurri for $17.

Best Bar for a Beer Float

The Ginger Man

Yes, it now has locations across the state and even in Manhattan and Greenwich, but don’t call the Rice Village location a chain: It’s the first outpost, having sprung up in 1985. Choose a brew from the encyclopedic, 68-draught list, then make it a float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There are beer flights, too, which allow suds nerds to compare Belgian, European or seasonal Texas brews. Enjoy a tasting inside in the cozy environs or outside, likely surrounded by a cloak of smoke.

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Best Bar for Congregating Around the Lone Star State

Kay’s Lounge

Get your cowboy on with the whole gang around this bar’s well-worn, Texas-shaped (and sized) table. Don’t worry, though: a 10-gallon hat isn’t necessary for playing games of cornhole outside with the regulars, many of whom are third-generation fans of this Houston treasure, which offers up local brews, country tunes and, of course, Bud Light. Looking to watch the game? If it’s Monday, you might luck into free chili dogs. Other days, feast on $5 personal pizzas.

Best Bar for Pretending You’re in Scotland

Kelvin Arms

A suit of armor guards the entrance to the vault of this former bank. But it’s Scotch, not money, that’s the prize here. Hide yourself on one of the snug leather couches surrounded by old World Book encyclopedias, or sidle up to the bar for a beer and a view of the 120-inch flat screen, where hometown games are always on tap.

Best Bar for Crossing Off a Houston Bucket List Item

Marquis II

Served in a 23-ounce glass, the specialty at this 70-years-young watering hole is a blindingly strong take on the already notorious Long Island Iced Tea. There are 20 different flavors, in as many candy colors, with Arnold Palmer, Peach and Blue Island Punch the biggest sellers. On offer daily, they’re $8 on “Teasday,” when Filipino food truck Flip ‘n Patties is parked and ready to ease your pain with some fluffy siopao.


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