Houston's jazz connoisseurs frequent this intimate, 40-seat venue. An impressive roster of local and nationally-recognized acts packs the house on weekends, and a cozy setting means that every seat is a good one. A full bar is available, along with the same appetizers and desserts you'll find at sister-pub The Black Labrador, located downstairs. A perfect choice for a first date!

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Quite literally above the rest, Scott Gertner's Skybar and Grille occupies a penthouse that affords sweeping views of downtown. Widely regarded as one of the best places in town to catch live music, the nightspot features a swank, candlelit area where patrons relax at cozy café tables while listening to namesake Scott Gertner and friends cut cool jazz tunes. Patrons needing a bit of fresh air can make their way out to one of two open-air terraces – the western one offers a tranquil fountain and spectacular sunset views. Two-drink minimum.

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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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Sleek, shimmering, funky Sambuca is a haven for the city's elite and is a shining venue for top jazz performers (and those who master other genres). An accomplished menu is at hand, perfect for enjoying in conjunction with the sensational music. If you'd rather hang out at the bar, that's perfectly acceptable too – and comes without the time limit of a table. Best of all, the music complements both dining and conversation, never intruding on a special evening out.

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Rice Village

Benjy's airy, open restaurant unites fabulous food, impeccable service, and terrific people-watching. Happily, it also boasts a relaxed, well-regarded lounge where patrons gather before dinner and professionals flock for great happy hour specials. The chic, streamlined space invites mingling, cocktails are well mixed, and an impressive spirits list gives newcomers pause. Savory appetizers can also be had, and an outdoor area comes with a view. A separate lounge entrance is at the rear of the building.

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Created from an old gas station, this hip lounge adds a bit of funk to the past with a disco ball, leather banquettes, molded plastic furniture, and a mix of materials. DJs further the eclectic tendency with plenty of uptempo tunes, and a long, polished wood bar serves everything liquid. Although the music can get somewhat loud inside, a fantastic outdoor patio offers quieter lounging, complete with picnic tables, patio furniture, and an oversized chimenea.

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A hip stop-off for nightlife devotees, The Davenport is a cocktail-lover's haven. Its ambience meshes mid-century chic with contemporary style, and a constant crowd of folks lounges about, acutely aware of who's around and what they're wearing. Although DJs alternate with recorded music, conversation is rarely difficult. While you sink back into upholstered furniture, martini in hand and ready to engage in conversation, take note of the videotaped flames that provide style from a wannabe fireplace (actually a co-opted television).

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Sleekly outfitted with contemporary style and punches of color amid a neutral backdrop, classy a+ is an automatic draw for after-work professionals and hotel guests. Quiet enough for easy conversation and hip enough for a busy social scene, the place fills many needs, accommodating folks who want to lounge to DJ-spun hits while taking care of patrons who crave scrumptious fare from the hotel restaurant. Great cocktails and an enticing wine list cater to people who appreciate the finer things in life.

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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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