Houston's Most Essential Bars

July 12, 2016
by Zagat Staff

The need-to-know, need-to-go bars in Houston.

Washington Corridor · $$

From mixologist Alba Huerta (Anvil Bar & Refuge, The Pastry War) comes this Downtown bar featuring a roster of cocktails from the South and a laid-back vibe to match. Housed in a renovated industrial building, the down-home space comes complete with lace curtains and a large porch for lounging.
Under the Volcano
Bar · West U · $$
Food - · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.0

A cocktail list that spans from frozen screwdrivers to pisco sours " is the calling card of this " unique " West U bar that also draws " good crowds " with steak-night specials and a covered outdoor patio; a jukebox with tunes by local artists and " Mexican- and Southwest-influenced " folk art complete the colorful scene, where the " drinks can get expensive, but they're well worth" the price.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
Montrose · $$$
Food - · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

"Arrive early" and "be prepared to wait" at this "swanky" Montrose bar where crowds of "actual grown-ups" flock nightly for "expertly crafted" "Prohibition-era cocktails" , cheese and charcuterie in a "tastefully" decorated space (think exposed brick, dark wood and leather); sure, prices run "a bit high" , but that's to be expected when "talented" bartenders put so much "care into the creation" of each drink.
La Grange
Mexican · Montrose · $$

This airy, expansive patio bar in the heart of Montrose, decorated with art the owners have collected on trips to Mexico, serves up regional Mexican food in a variety of small plates and a sampling of Tex-Mex favorites with a heavy emphasis on seafood. Three themed bars feature regional craft beers on tap, signature cocktails and Mexican cocktail favorites.
The Pastry War
Downtown · $$

From artisanal spirits to classic Mexican cocktails, this Downtown bar is serious about tequila and its agave-based cousin, mezcal. Just around the corner from sibling OKRA Charity Saloon, the narrow space allows for both intimacy and boisterousness in separate areas festooned with a cantina motif, including a skull-laden ceiling mural above the indoor patio.
Wooster's Garden
Midtown · $

With a focus on craft beer, seasonal cocktails and upscale takes on classic bar bites, this laid-back Midtown bar and grill is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The relaxed space boasts a modern interior with reclaimed-wood accents and a large outdoor patio.
Public Services Wine & Whisky
Downtown · $$

From chef Justin Yu and sommelier Justin Vann comes this Downtown wine and whiskey bar in the historic 1884 Cotton Exchange building, where vintage-style decor outfits a spacious art deco interior. Wine and whiskey options abound, though a limited selection of classic cocktails and bar snacks is also available.
Eight Row Flint
Heights · $

The team behind Coltivare and Revival Market have converted an old gas station into this modern, elevated Heights icehouse specializing in craft beer, on-site cask bourbons, frozen cocktails and inventive tacos served from a slick backyard food truck.