Food & Drink

The Most Beautiful Bars in Houston

Published On 10/05/2015 Published On 10/05/2015
VJ Arizpe

Mongoose versus Cobra

Impressive woodwork, exposed brick, sleek leather chairs, and ancient concrete flooring all work in making this Brooklyn-style vault feel and look cool as all hell. But perhaps the coolest part is the signature key-keg racking and lineup of taps sprawling the stark bar. Head here for 40+ craft brews and all kinds of good cocktails, plus a truly excellent house pretzel.

Julie Soefer Photography

Anvil Bar & Refuge 

This eye-catching refuge from Bobby Heugel is the grandfather of Houston’s craft cocktail movement. Exposed brick and a long, handsome bar give the stunner an industrial feel, while a laundry list of show-stopping cocktails -- served in cool glassware and mixed with fun things like house-made bitters, sodas, and infusions -- will give you all kinds of feels.

Alex Gregg/Moving Sidewalk

Moving Sidewalk

With antique crystal and brass chandeliers, old Hollywood-style banquettes, and low-lit candles, this dark and moody watering hole is so sexy, it may illicit a love affair -- at least with the bar’s vintage-style highballs, which come adorned with cool things like house-chiseled ice, liquid nitrogen, and fire!

Julie Soefer Photography

OKRA Charity Saloon

First opened as the Original Casino Saloon in 1882, this fine-looking space still has its original circle arch and barrel vault ceilings in tact. The structure is a central piece of artwork connecting two long and narrow exposed brick walls, with soaring skylights and a striking central bar rounding out the aesthetics. But the best part is the beauty on the inside: the saloon donates 100% of its proceeds to a different local charity every month. It’s like the bar version of Inception, except you want to be in it.

Monarch Bistro

Monarch at Hotel ZaZa

Hotel ZaZa is the probably the most hot and eclectic place to stay in town (have you heard about the goth dungeon room???). So obviously the restaurant, bar, and lounge housed inside are not too hard on the eyes, either. The dark, plush space is sexy in an almost dangerous way. Just don’t have too many whiskey smashes, you don’t want to end up in the room we mentioned earlier.

Brenners on the Bayou

Blue Bar at Brenner’s on the Bayou

True story: the bayou can be pretty. Head to this contemporary, Miami-esque patio bar to see the natural beauty for yourself. Partnered with luxuriant foliage and cascading waterfalls, the bayou makes a stunning backdrop for cozy happy hours and pre- or post-dinner drinks.

The Pastry War

The Pastry War

Strings of tea lights, colorful stained glass, and vibrant murals line the wood-paneled ceilings and walls of this funky, agave-focused mezcaleria. The intricate decor hints at the 1838 conflict between Mexico and France, with Mexican vibrance and French elegance detailed throughout. You’ll always find a crowd packed around the colorful backlit bar, but it’s worth waiting your turn to get a taste of the crazy good tequila and mezcal creations.

Courtesy of Marc Brubaker

Julep

Housed in an industrial 1880s uniform factory, bourbon boss Alba Huerta’s decidedly feminine, bright, and airy bar invokes old southern grandeur. Feel super decadent when sipping a house-spiced julep at the stunning copper-topped bar; or hit the the sophisticated back porch to slurp oysters and Sazeracs.

William Harden

Prohibition Supperclub & Bar

Transport yourself to a time when gangsters and flappers ruled the city with just one step into this insanely cool speakeasy. The European hotel-inspired space houses an ĂĽber luxurious restaurant and Art Deco bar, accented with sleek leather seating, mood lighting, and an ornate mirrored wall. Plus there’s the sexy 5,000sqft theater, made even sexier by performances from the burlesque troop, The Moonlight Dolls.

Stone's Throw Houston

Stone’s Throw

Make your way up the winding wrought-iron staircase to get a prime view of this 1920s throwback, complete with an old-school chandelier, impressive 17ft marble-top bar, and sky-high wall of tinctures. Then head back down because you’re gonna want some delicious cocktails.

Public Services Bar

Public Services Wine & Whisky

Housed on the first floor of the 1884 Cotton Exchange building (which, by the way, is a landmark on the National Register of Historic places… nbd), this Art Deco-style cocktailery is as gorgeous as ever. Plush sofas, gilded artwork, and striking arched crown molding line the space, which feels more like your wealthy aunt’s sitting room than a bar. Either way, it’s an excellent place to plop down and get a classy buzz on.

Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE

The Monnalisa 

Complete with a twinkling ceiling, sleek indoor fireplace, open-air courtyard, and cabana-lined infinity pool, this Euro-inspired bar inside Hotel Sorella is way sexier than that Mona Lisa chick ever was.

Nouveau Antique Art Bar

Nouveau Antique Art Bar

Housing what looks like the largest private collection of reproduced Tiffany lamps, this art nouveau bar has vintage stained glass for days. It’s the kind of place where you just want to lounge out on antique furniture and see if there’s anyone who will take you up on your offer when you ask them to “draw you like one of their French girls.”

Hearsay Gastro Lounge

Hearsay Gastro Lounge/Hearsay on the Green

Grand 50ft ceilings, glistening bulbs, and a breathtaking early 20th-century Tuscan chandelier make the Market Square location of this speakeasy one of the sexiest bars in the city, easily. It’s housed in the historic W. L. Foley Building, which was built in 1860 and rebuilt by architect Eugene T. Heiner after a fire in 1889. But that doesn’t mean the younger sister bar in Discover Green isn’t just as hot. Both beauts showcase the Old World style and eye-catching elegance of days past.


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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer who thinks all bars are beautiful, eventually. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeViggiano.

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1. Mongoose Versus Cobra 1011 McGowen St, Houston, TX 77002 (Midtown)

40 taps at this wine and craft beer bar make the Midtown spot a definite contender for the after-5pm crowd. While there's no full kitchen in the back, you can fill yourself up on pretzels the size of your head, as well as sauerkraut and bratwurst.

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2. Anvil Bar & Refuge 1424 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This ever-evolving, cool-as-hell industrial Montrose space offers up expertly crafted, spirit-forward cocktails made with house-made sodas, infusions, liqueurs, and even flames. Make your way through the bar’s “100 list,” a refreshed library of classic drinks the barkeeps think everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Speaking of the bartenders, all of them are highly trained and skilled, and many Anvil alums have gone on to open their own bars.

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3. Moving Sidewalk 306 Main St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

The late Goro & Gun was transformed into this sexy cocktailery that flaunts liquid-nitrogen-chilled glassware and an "emotional beverage guide" for the indecisive. Are you happy and perhaps overly optimistic about your new lady friend? A French 75 should do the trick. Something on your mind? Looks like you’re taking a beer and a shot to get you out of your funk!

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4. OKRA Charity Saloon 924 Congress St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

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.

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5. Hotel ZaZa 2332 Leonard St, Dallas, TX 75201 (Uptown)

Hotel ZaZa is the swanky sort of spot where you might run into a celebrity -- but you'll definitely run into a sweet pool, where you can get down on brunch, sip some cocktails, or just lounge around in the sunshine.

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6. Blue Bar at Brenner's on the Bayou 1 Birdsall St, Houston, TX 77007

Proving that the Bayou can, in fact, be pretty freaking beautiful, the picturesque Blue Bar at Brenner's boasts a swanky happy hour complete with $4 craft beers, $6 cocktails & martinis, $7 wines, and $6 small plates -- including hand-cut truffle fries and tender veal & ricotta meatballs that are absolute musts.

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7. The Pastry War 310 Main St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

Seventeen Mexican beers join vintage tequila on the menu at this cantina, named after the French and Mexican war. While you won't find any pastries, you will find flavored agave spirits and spirits with worms, scorpions, or other insects. Strings of tea lights, colorful stained glass, and vibrant murals line the wood-paneled ceilings and walls and you'll always find a crowd packed around the colorful backlit bar.

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8. Julep 1919 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (Washington)

Julep's got an old-school, punky Southern charm that's soaked in bourbon, just like you'll be after a few masterfully crafted cocktails and cold seafood dishes from former Pass & Provisions Chef Adam Garcia. Housed in an industrial 1880s uniform factory, the space features a gorgeous copper bar and a sophisticated back porch. There are masterful odes to the bar’s namesake drink, but the list runs on into a boozy Southern history book with classics born in the region and a seasonal lineup that plays with Southern inspirations.

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9. Prohibition Supperclub & Bar 1008 Prairie St, Houston, TX 77002

This sultry, '20s era supper club doubles as a cabaret, featuring The Moonlight Dolls on Thurs-Sat, making sucking down Oysters Rockefeller, crispy stuffed pig trotter, and garlic butter lobster twice the fun. Add a couple of old-fashioned cocktails to reach nirvana.

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10. Stone's Throw 1417 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

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.

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11. Public Services Wine & Whisky 202 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

Housed in the old Cotton Exchange building, Public Services Wine & Whisky is doing its due diligence, providing Downtown Houston with options abound in each category, as its name boasts. The whiskey list covers its ground -- Scotland, America, Japan, Ireland, Spain, and even India are represented. (The Scotland selection is strong, and is broken down by region. Do yourself a favor, and spend some time tasting through it.) The wine list is no different, with everything from Sherry and other fortified dessert wines, to sparkling, whites, roses, and reds, Old World and New World alike. Other libations live here, as well, like brandy, absinthe, and Amari, and house cocktails, beer, and cider. And finally, they offer a small selection of bar snacks available to abet in your tasting journey, wherever it may take you.

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12. Monnalisa at Hotel Sorella 800 W Sam Houston Pkwy N Bldg 9, Houston, TX 77024 (Memorial City)

Housed on the second floor of the Hotel Sorella in Citycentre, Monnalisa is a chic, upscale lounge with an open-flame fireplace, secluded booths, plush couches, and an open-air courtyard with an adjacent infinity pool (cabanas and daybeds included). The posh space features specialty cocktails and wine, as well as a menu of modern American snacks. It’s a high-end option for post dinner drinks, or a night out with friends. You can enjoy your fancy martinis with live music and birdseye views of the bustling central plaza.

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13. Nouveau Antique Art Bar 2913 Main St, Houston, TX 77002 (Midtown)

This bar is decorated with Tiffany lamps suspended from the ceiling and throughout the entire space. It's a very romantic atmosphere with dim lighting and a large cocktail collection.

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14. Hearsay Gastro Lounge 218 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002 (Downtown)

Hearsay, right off Market Square, has your hookup for live music, a solid collection of drafts, and a fulfilling menu of classics, with everything from a surf and turf to mac and cheese to brisket sandwiches.

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