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!


North Houston

Boasting arguably the best beer selection as well as the best burgers in Houston, this bar's tantalizing taps and mouthwatering menu draw hops heads from far and wide. Petrol Station is set in a refurbished gas station and offers a cozy, welcoming ambiance complete with a spacious outdoor patio. In this laid-back setting, patrons fill up on fine craft beers from national and local breweries along with enormous, life-changing burgers and addictive rosemary feta fries.

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Museum District

A local favorite in Houston, this charming bar's laid-back atmosphere makes it an inviting place to spend the evening. In fact, Grand Prize has just about everything one could want in a dive bar, plus a few extras, like cheap but perfectly crafted cocktails and mouthwatering appetizers from Feast, a well-loved local restaurant. Patrons challenge each other to pool tournaments, chat over beers on the patios and sip superb gimlets at the cozy upstairs bar.

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One of the most impressive bars Houston, Texas has to offer, Anvil belongs to an increasingly rare breed where the complex art of bartending and quality drinks are still the main focus. Trendy yet unpretentious, the bar features beautiful exposed brick and soaring ceilings that perfectly complement the old world cocktails handcrafted by master mixologists. Anvil's menu features such inventive recipes as the Maharaja Buck, made with cardamom-infused gin, tamarind jam and ginger beer.

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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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If you're looking for eclectic dive bars, Houston, Texas has plenty, but locals agree that Poison Girl tops the list. This quirky bar is both hip and inviting, providing a low-key spot for creative souls to gather and knock back cheap Lone Stars or tasty liquor drinks mixed from 100-plus whiskeys. Pinball machines provide old-school entertainment, while delightful eccentricity abounds on the back patio featuring a giant Kool-Aid Man statue and oversize Cabbage Patch doll.

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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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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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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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River Oaks
Photo courtesy of Marfreless

Pay attention as you make your way down Peden Street or you stand a good chance of missing this nondescript little joint, whose unmarked blue door in no way anticipates the lounge inside. Marfreless fosters a surprisingly romantic setting that makes it a favorite with lovey-dovey couples looking for a quiet table where they can make small talk, nurse a few glasses of wine, and listen to soft classical music. Subdued lighting and several scattered, cozy couches add to the place's intimate appeal.

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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.

Read more about Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill →