If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Houston guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Houston for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like Slainte Irish Pub to busy places like Marfreless that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Downtown area? No fear - we share all the facts!


When it comes to bars, Houston, Texas boasts quite a variety, but none compare to Nouveau Antique Art Bar, warmly lit by hundreds of breathtaking reproduction Tiffany lamps. Add antique Art Nouveau-style furniture, dark wood walls, plush seating and an outdoor patio strung with twinkling lights, and the stunning vision is complete. In addition to its phenomenal ambiance, the bar delights with swift and smiley service, reasonably priced drinks, stellar background music and amiable crowds.

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In the heart of downtown Houston is this cozy touch of Dublin. A beautiful wooden facade and a lofty balcony initially greet visitors; inside, exquisite woodwork, hand-carved furniture, old portraits, armoires, and a handcrafted bar distinguish the space. A favorite weekend meeting place, Slainte offers a friendly setting for regulars and newcomers to mingle like old friends. Aside from standard American pub grub, traditional dishes like Irish lamb stew, Ballycotton shepherd's pie, and fish and chips are available. And, of course, Guinness, Harp, and Killian's are always on tap.

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With its loft-like appearance, graphic furniture, and expansive patio, this upscale sports bar gets lots of support from local business people. They make it a weekday hangout when the work whistle blows, and a well-attended happy hour shows them the love in return. Affordable drinks, pub fare, and plenty of TVs offer ample reason to kick back and relax. If no good game is on, shoot a round of pool, or take in the energetic tunes of live bands from Wednesday to Friday.

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This sexy hotel bar overlooks the ICON's lobby. A study in red, gold, and black, it provides an appropriately low-key setting for conversation and mingling. The impressive drinks are pricey but tasty, and the VIP room is a gorgeous space defined by gilt, lacquer, mirrors, vibrantly patterned fabrics and a fireplace. Check it out just for the wow appeal. Great for business or socializing.

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Don't come here looking for shiny nightlife trappings or a menu of delicate cocktails – the Icehouse is nothing but downhome and casual. Picnic tables, domestic brews, and a few wine options make up the regular offerings, and from time to time, live bands play, and grilled hot dogs are served. Mostly, patrons just put up their feet at picnic tables and enjoy the chance to relax. Expectedly, people from all walks of life peaceably coexist, and local vendors hawk food on occasion. You'll also find an awesome jukebox, and oh yes, dogs are welcome. Since 1927.

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Although largely lesbian-frequented, this complex welcomes all who would like to attend. Four venues include a saloon and martini bar, and you'll find room for everything from live music to karaoke and open-mic events. Outdoor seating lets you take in the temperate weather, and pool tables invite a bit of friendly competition. And lest you think that fun is the club's only intention, Chances also sponsors regular fundraisers for breast cancer and other worthy causes.

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A mainstay that's getting new life thanks to local revitalization, Warren's still carries on as it always has – simply, and without fanfare. Its regular clientele are the same. They're just looking for a place to have a drink and decompress after the day, not to pose and preen. A dark wood interior, a jukebox of classics and oldies, and capable bartenders are among its charms, along with a pink neon sign that indicates the bar's outdoor presence. Affordable prices are a nice perk, and the place's sole turret-like booth affords the best vantage point for checking out the goings-on.

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Thanks to a relaxed setting at this family-run bar and grill, folks are put immediately at ease. It doesn't hurt that they're treated to everything from chicken-fried steak to catfish and burgers, courtesy of a well-considered menu. A full bar makes liquid refreshment easily accessible, and a dozen TVs deliver all the sports action you can handle. If that's not your style, there's live rock on Thursdays and Fridays, not to mention karaoke, pool, darts, video games, and even impromptu dancing. Great, affordable fun.

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One thing this sport bar doesn't lack is televisions – big screens, small screens, and a few in-between screens – all 200-plus of them strategically positioned for prime viewing, no matter where you happen to find yourself. Typical sports bar-themed decor abounds – of course, here, the Texans, Rockets, 'Stros, and area colleges get ample wall space. On Friday nights, the place gets jumping with live Texas tunes. It also boasts the popular COD Oyster Bar, where fresh-boiled crawfish are an art form.

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Located near the Galleria, this multi-faceted sports bar is a terrific place to meet up with old college chums and catch a game on the big-screen. Champps' interior is noteworthy for its sleek jagged bar, tile floor, and exposed brick walls, giving the place an upscale appearance that makes it a favorite with the young business crowd. Folks not wishing to go the TV route can wow the crowd with their prowess on the karaoke mic. The kitchen serves tasty bar food – nachos, wings, etc. – as well as surprises like crab bread (French bread layered with crab salad) and a Shanghai steamer (shrimp, chicken, and pork dumplings served in a bamboo basket).

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