First dates -- also commonly known as "let me bring this Tinder chick to a bar to see if she’s cool before I spend money on dinner" -- can be rough. That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the most excellent Houston-area bars for first-time meet-ups, where you can ease the tension through flirty games of Battleship, house-made Fireball, and top-notch bar bites. Actually getting the date is on you.
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With a vibe that feels a little bit posh but still laid-back, this restaurant’s tea-light-trimmed yard is an excellent spot to chill out over craft cocktails and a few games of bocce. Plus there’s an outdoor fireplace and s’mores, which is never not sexy.
This European-style bar boasts a library of biers and bar bites, but what makes it really special is the plethora of old-school games. Challenge each other to an intense game of Battleship or Wii tennis -- loser has to das boot.
Combine a central location perfect for bar-hopping with the fact that you can show off your charitable nature, and this non-profit charity bar is a winning first-date locale. A steady crowd keeps the intimacy at bay, while cheap beers, $3 shots of Fernet, and shuffleboard keep things interesting.
Unpretentious types will love this nerdy hole-in-the-wall with killer game and beverage selections. Monday trivia and steak night is a great way to remove any first-date awkwardness. But sipping on a few cocktails while letting her win Mario Kart any night of the week will also do.
Ok, so technically, this golfing arena is not a bar. But it has a bar (and shareable fishbowls), so that counts for something, right? Take turns ordering rounds of pitchers while you embarrass yourself with your driving skills. Then redeem your good name in a game of life-size Connect Four.
With 49 brews on tap and a laundry list of stiff craft cocktails, this totally chill beer garden has something for everyone. And remember that house-made Fireball we mentioned earlier? Your jokes just got 10 times funnier.
You’re pretty much guaranteed to not be the only one on a first date at this trendy pizza/craft beer/wine bar. That means you’re pretty much guaranteed to have at least one slightly more-uncomfortable-looking couple in your presence. Nothing brings two people together faster than making fun of two others.
Since it’s literally a stone’s throw away from a bunch of other bars, this modern speakeasy is an excellent jumping-off point. Start with a few sophisticated cocktails and boozy punches before hitting up spots like Anvil, Poison Girl, and -- if you wanna get weird -- Catbirds.
Houston’s hippest wine bar is a sexy-as-hell date spot. The best time to taste-test its library of temperature-controlled wines is on Sundays, when open bottles are half-price. Your date will either appreciate your insider knowledge or think you’re cheap. Either way, it’s a good test of chill-factor.
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1. Brooklyn Athletic Club601 Richmond Ave, Houston
2. Cottonwood3422 N Shepherd Dr, Houston
3. Boheme Cafe & Wine Bar307 Fairview S, Houston
4. Bar Munich2616 Louisiana St, Houston
5. OKRA Charity Saloon924 Congress St, Houston
6. Neil's Bahr2006 Walker St, Houston
7. Wooster's Garden3315 Milam St, Houston
8. CRISP2220 Bevis St, Houston
9. Stone's Throw1417 Westheimer Rd, Houston
10. 13 Celsius3000 Caroline St, Houston
It doesn't get better than outdoor games, Bloody Marys with bacon, and American comfort classics, which is why Brooklyn Athletic Club remains a neighborhood favorite.
Cottonwood is a restaurant and bar that draws crowds to its home in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest with quality cocktails, craft beer, comfort food, and a massive outdoor patio. Cocktails include classics and signatures (ask about the frozen drinks), but whiskey is the spirit of choice, with primarily local and Kentucky labels on offer. Beer is at the forefront, though, with over 40 taps (two cask-conditioned), featuring a large number of local brews. The menu is appropriately tailored to the beverage offerings, with quality pub fare like frito pie, tacos, sloppy joes, and the famous Squirrel Master Burger -- stuffed with poblano peppers and topped bacon, pepper jack, jalapenos, and of course, a fried egg.
This Montrose wine bar has a cool ambiance, a great back patio, and sharable plates like Bangkok-style fries and cheese boards.
Bar Munich is a sunny, airy German establishment where you can watch the game with plenty of German drafts and a great menu full of hearty snacks to soak up all the suds. Get a liter and a Bavarian pretzel, or throw self-respect out the window and chase Das Boot with a triple-bratwurst sampler platter.
Named not for the beloved Southern side dish, but an acronym for "Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs," OKRA uses its simple American fare for the forces of good and not profit. When you order a classic cocktail and round of waffles fries or avocado fritters, you're gifted a a ticket (like the ones you get at the carnival) that grant you a vote. Every customer's vote deems which charity get all -- all -- of the restaurant's profits for the month.
This tweet from owner Neil Fernandez (@neilsbahr) describes it best: "this ain't ya grandpa's bar. that's because it's called Neil's Bahr. if your grandpa's name is Neil, we will have to destroy him". The Darth Vader on the liquor shelf and abundance of comic books/sci-fi novels only further prove that this is THE spot for all things fantastically nerdy. And that's before even mentioning that the bar’s name is a pun on Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr.
This totally chill craft cocktail and beer garden is rocking 49 brews on tap. It also comes fully loaded with an incredible lineup of fancified cocktails featuring touches like fresh-squeezed juices, infusions of fruit smoked with wood chips from repurposed whiskey barrels. The barkeeps pull out all the stops here, with showy concoctions that range from the bittersweet and robust to the tropical and Tiki.
CRISP is a great spot to relax and enjoy a full meal, or even just a few drinks after work -- they've got a giant patio which occasionally has a live band, a creative pizza menu with exciting choices like the Cluck You BBQ (Beer can chicken, smoked Gouda, pickled jalapeños, grilled red onion, and Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce), and extensive lists of beer and wine to compliment their huge bar.
This moody speakeasy stirs up vintage libations and brews their own ginger beer, but there’s no need to put on your fancy pants -- it's as laidback as any other bar in Montrose. Hit it up for progressive happy hour, where the price of drinks match the time. That's $4 drinks at 4. $5 drinks at 5. Now keep doing math until you get to 7.
When this bar took over this shambled Midtown spot in the mid-2000s, they opted not to polish it off in the style of other wine bars. Rather, they opted to keep its steely warehouse appearance and add a sleek white marble bar to class it up just enough. The 100+ wines, hand-selected from all over the world, are kept at 13 degrees celsius (hence ... well, you get it) in the cellar until you order a glass, bottle, or flight with your cheese plate or Italian panini sandwich.