Step into the vibrant tapestry of Houston’s nightlife with our guide to the Best Bars in the city. From trendy cocktail lounges to historic dives, we’ve curated a list that embodies the diverse and dynamic spirit of Houston. Whether you’re a craft beer enthusiast, a cocktail connoisseur, or simply seeking a laid-back local haunt, our selection promises an exploration of the finest establishments. Houston’s bar scene reflects the city’s cultural richness, offering a blend of unique atmospheres and flavorful libations. Join us as we navigate through the neighborhoods, uncovering the top spots that define Houston’s social landscape. Get ready for an insider’s journey into the heart of the city’s most unforgettable drinking experiences. Cheers to the best bars in Houston.
1. Axelrad Beer Garden
Located right off Elgin Square, a few blocks from Elizabeth Baldwin Park, Axelrad Beer Garden is an artsy and fashionable beer garden housed inside a century-old grocery store building. The outdoor courtyard is a relaxing place to enjoy a brew or cocktail and offers a full line-up of live music and film screenings.
2. Johnny’s Gold Brick
Johnny’s Gold Brick is a fashionable and fun cocktail bar in the iconic Houston Heights neighborhood. The interior is warm and dimly lit, with old-school vinyl booths and oversized photographs of cocktails. They offer all the classic cocktails for a surprisingly reasonable price. I went for the Boiler Maker, a shot of Old Fashioned with a can of Lone Star.
3. Lei Low
This cleverly named Tiki bar is another Houston Heights neighborhood favorite, with 1950s-era murals of Hawaiian hula girls and a bamboo studded ceiling. Houston is the ultimate concrete jungle, and Lei Low gives you a tropical oasis to, well, lay low. They serve tropical cocktails in silly, over-the-top cups garnished with little umbrellas. I love their pina coladas!
Founded by Bobby Heugel and Steve Flippo in 2009, Anvil is a sophisticated cocktail bar and lounge in the heart of the Montrose neighborhood. The owners wanted to open a classic cocktail bar, serving all their favorite drinks in an elegant yet friendly atmosphere. Anvil has the most extensive cocktail list I’ve seen, with over 100 cocktails, not to mention wine, beer, and gourmet small plates like tuna belly and charcuterie.
5. Better Luck Tomorrow
Located right off the main Heights Boulevard in Houston Heights, Better Luck Tomorrow is a colorful and lively gastropub. It’s a neighborhood favorite for happy hour get-togethers and tasty American meals. They offer brunch, lunch, dinner, and an extensive list of cocktails, beer, and wine. I recommend going for happy hour to take advantage of half-off all cocktails.
6. Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge
Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge is a hip, old-fashioned cocktail and spirit lounge in a dimly lit space with crystal chandeliers in the heat of downtown Houston. The cocktail list is written in chalk on a board that runs the length of the bar, changing daily according to the mixologist’s whimsy.
7. Eight Row Flint
Another Houston Heights institution, Eight Row Flint is a stylish whiskey bar, brew pub, and taco bar inside a renovated old icehouse. The newly designed space is gorgeous, and the food and drink are equally stunning. They offer boozy brunch, dinner, and a cocktail menu with everything from frozen drinks to ranch waters to creative craft cocktails. They also offer a tap list of ten local Texas or Houston beers.
8. The Garden HTX
Mongoose Versus Cobra is a fashionable beer bar and lounge in a renovated 1907 building in Midtown. The exterior is covered on all sides by green vines, and the interior is a stunning rustic meets urban chic design. They have 42 beers on tap from local, domestic, and foreign breweries, along with a menu of bar snacks and small plates.
Located in the Fourth Ward a few blocks from the iconic Buffalo Bayou, Julep is a quaint cocktail bar with Southern flair. True to its name, Julep has an entire menu of variations on the famous Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Mint Julep. Each spirit has its own section of cocktails, from bourbon to whiskey, to mezcal.
10. Houston Watch Company
Houston Watch Company is a charming two-story cocktail bar in an old downtown building in the Main Street Market Square Historic District. Located close to numerous theaters, concert halls, and museums, Houston Watch Company is a favorite post-show spot for classy cocktails. I loved the silly names of their craft cocktails, especially the Comfy Sweatpants scotch drink with white cacao, coconut, and cranberry bitters.
11. The Continental Club
The Continental Club is an iconic Texas dive bar and live music venue that opened in Austin, Texas, in 1955. Nearly a half-century later, The Continental Club opened a second location in Midtown, Houston. The Continental Club is one of the premier music lounges in Houston, with a full lineup of live music from every genre to serenade a cheap and tasty beverage.
12. La Carafe
Overlooking Market Square Park in the Historic Market Square District of downtown, La Carafe is a quirky wine bar. The interior is decked out from floor to ceiling with antique art and a myriad of vintage sculptures, figurines, and even an old carousel horse. They serve an extensive wine menu and a small selection of draft beers.
13. Monkey’s Tail
Money’s Tail is a colorful and whimsical cocktail bar and gastropub in Lindale Park with a multicolor tile bar and a great oak tree-covered back patio. They serve high-end cocktails and craft beer from local microbreweries along with a full menu of regional American pub fare. The signature dish at Monkey’s Tail is the extravagant Chango Burger, but they have pizza, wings, tacos, and appetizers, too.
14. West Alabama Ice House
A longstanding Montrose institution, West Alabama Ice House is a neighborhood sports bar with a dive-like feel. It has a giant dog-friendly backyard with ping pong and pool tables inside the charmingly dilapidated interior. They serve a wide variety of local cans and bottles of beer, along with delicious authentic Mexican tacos and tamales.
Founded in Downtown Houston in 1996, Notsuoh is the most authentic and creative bar I visited. A self-described Art Bar, Notsuoh feels like an artsy fun house, its space filled with relics, paintings, vintage furniture, books, and photographs. The ambiance alone is worth the trip, but the cocktails are as creative as the space.
16. Poison Girl
Poison Girl is a funky Montrose dive bar in a bright pink storefront opening into a red-walled interior with exposed beamed ceilings, velvet curtains, and vintage pinball machines. Poison Girl has a rotating tap beer list from only Texan or Houstonian breweries, along with an extensive list of whiskeys. You can’t beat their happy hour with well drinks and beer under four dollars.
17. Under the Volcano
Located in University Place, Under the Volcano is a unique neighborhood bar that’s received praise from Food and Wine, Thrillist, and the Houston Press for its funky atmosphere and amazing cocktail menu. The interior is a tropical-chic paradise, its walls lined with interesting masks from around the world. Their extensive cocktail, beer, and food menu is the height of exoticism.
18. The Ready Room
The Ready Room is a hip and gritty music venue and cocktail bar in Houston Heights overlooking Stude Park. Once called the Reddi Room, this iconic venue has been serving cocktails and live music since the 1940s. The new owners donned a new name that honors the establishment’s rich history. The cocktails at The Ready Room have no less than seven ingredients each, and they’re all delicious!
19. Trash Panda Drinking Club
If you see a bar called Trash Panda Drinking Club, you know you’re going to have a wild night. Lauded as one of the best bars in Houston, Texas, by Thrillist, Trash Panda Drinking Club is a laid-back Northside Village neighborhood cocktail bar and gastropub. They have a thorough list of craft cocktails, draft beer, wine, and the most original pub fare I’ve ever seen, with plates like Birria Grilled Cheese and Hot Cheeto Mozzarella sticks.
Why should you trust us?
We use our own local experience and contacts in the city to know which places to include in our lists. We also researched the web and read 6 reputable blogs and websites, including houston.eater.com, tripadvisor.com, thrillist.com, houstoniamag.com, visithoustontexas.com and secrethouston.com. So that you can be sure you’re receiving the best of the best. We compiled all the results in one spot and ranked them according to how frequently they were referenced.