'Last Week Tonight' Writer Josh Gondelman Takes Shots, Talks About Working For John Oliver
Fancy a nightcap? Make it a Pinot or a 'presso at this white-bricked, metallic laced vino and brew bar. The less than a year old spot has an all-star roster of local talent behind it, with the small vineyard selections curated by wine director William Fuller and a coffee program alley-oop from Blacksmith’s David Buehrer. The kitchen serves Italian and Spanish fusion dishes while the wine bar has more than 100 bottles on offer from spots around the globe. Don’t miss their 3oz pour wine flights you snack on truffle frites, warm brie, and Jamón Ibérico. Also, on Mondays and Tuesdays there’s free pizza when you buy a bottle. FREE. PIZZA.
If you’re not careful, you’ll probably look right past this unassuming wine lounge housed in a mini strip mall off Studemont. But step inside and you’ll find a dark, sultry space with tons of personality and a nice-size crowd sipping bottles over the occasional live music. With a dynamic 100+ wine list ranging from $30 to $200 bottles (and glasses starting around $9), both aficionados and newbies can find something to whet their appetite.
If you're looking for a European-style enoteca with eclectic, global selections housed in a super sexy ‘20s-era building, this is it. With an extensive 450+ library curated and cared for by co-owner Mike Sammons and grape goddess Adele Corrigan, the spot prides itself in selecting vinos with unique character and storing them at a temperature that you would never, ever guess by the name of the place. Damn fine charcuterie and bar snacks pair perfectly with the wines, which from the aromatized and fortified to the sparkling and seasonal and are offered by the bottle, glass, half-glass, and taste. Thanks to wine-centric dinners, pop up tastings and art installations, and special bottles lists on Sundays, it may just be the best date spot on the city.
Oporto Wine Cafe, the first food and wine concept from husband and wife team Rick and Shiva Divirgilio. sought to bring Houston a European-style wine bar, similar to what you might find in a taberna in Lisbon or Porto. Now with a second concept in Midtown, the duo continues to provide a relaxed, chic atmosphere with outstanding petiscos and thoughtful roster of over 50 boutique wines, including the largest Portuguese wine collection in the city.
Beverage Director David Keck is just one of Houston’s most well-respected sommeliers, he’s also a freaking opera singer. And that’s just one of the awesome things about this coolly unpretentious wine chamber from Keck and Paulie’s Paul Petronella. The user-friendly "DAMNED WINE LIST" is broken down by flavor instead of origin, making it easier for EVEN YOU to find the perfect glass or bottle (but the staff is also well-equipped to assist). And there’s sick selection of beers, cyders, salumis, and cheeses, and even Lone Star tall boys, because that thing we said about them being cool and unpretentious.
Uptown Park (& Other Locations)
This unintimidating mini-chain keeps winos quenched through good eats and a smart laundry list of retail-priced wine. The majority of which is offered by the glass, bottle, and case (score!). Don’t miss happy hour, where you can get wines by the glass for as cheap as a Lincoln to take down with tapas, charcuterie, and bubbly pizzas.
Good wine becomes excellent wine when coupled with smokey lavash pizzas and piles of Bangkok-style fries in one of Houston’s most charming backyards. Things get even cozier inside, where brick walls lined with Venetian accents and antique light fixtures provide one of Houston’s sultriest atmospheres. Bring a date and pop a reasonably priced bottle or go solo to find gaggles of singles enjoying a night on the town.
You can’t visit Market Square without popping into this creaky time warp to the 1800s, housed in one of downtown’s oldest buildings. The cash only bar boasts an extensive wine list with candelabras, antiques exposed brick, and a sexy playlist featuring jukebox selections from Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, and Bob Marley to boot. And if that doesn’t make you feel all kinds of good inside, it’s because your soul is dead and nothing will (just kidding... kinda).
This duo of vino bars focuses on small lot selections from a particular region. Can you guess which? Make the most of your money with truly awesome 7oz pours and versatile wine flights and bottles, or hit at happy hour to get carafes of house sangria and things like 50% off pizzas and $10 cheese flights.
Step inside the old Cotton Exchange Building and you’ll find this Art Deco-style cocktailery with all kinds of Clutch City swagger. And with Houston’s very own Dionysus Justin Vann behind the drinks and culinary guru Justin Yu behind the snacks, you know you’ll be in the best of hands. A boutique selection of hard-to-find Old World wines are mixed with "New World classics" and ciders, beers, and simple tinctures that you can sneak in as you please. All of it goes down beautifully with bar eats like Yu’s house-made baloney, served warm with smoked cheese spread and Ritz crackers.
We don’t know what we like better, the crazy good lineup of house-cured salumi or the crazy good roster of distinct Italian wines. Good thing you can hit this Venice-inspired vinoteca at anytime and get both. But perhaps the best time to visit is during happy hour, when wines by the glass are just $2 or $3 and small bites called “cicchetti” are just a buck. Or on Sundays, when they roast an entire suckling pig.