by Nikki Metzgar - 206 Reviews - 77 List
Another year has gone by and we're still drinking like we haven't aged a day past 21. Luckily, new hot spots for everyone from wine-lovers to PBR-swillers have popped up to cater to our, ahem, recreations. Here's to the best bars that opened in 2009 and cheers to our health into 2010. (Photo: Anvil Bar & Refuge)
Updated: December 15, 2009
With all the hype surrounding Anvil, you'd think it was the first time Houston had ever seen a cocktail. But, it's true that we'd never seen cocktails like these: painstakingly handcrafted with oftentimes housemade ingredients like ginger beer and barrel-aged bitters and served in vintage glasses. Beer-lovers are in rapture, too, over the excellent selection of small-production brews. And, if that isn't enough, perhaps the lines out the door will persuade you that these times in Houston, they are a-changin'.
For a wine bar (you know, those places where you have to think about your booze before you drink it), Block 7 is a comfortable, open space with no pretension. The gunmetal-gray and silver interior is a cool space to enjoy an aromatic white or bold red, as determined by you and the friendly waitstaff, and possibly paired with marrow-buttered hangar steak. Oh yeah, they went there. And we like it.
Now that Washington Avenue has been settled by lounges and clubs, the patrons of the strip's once-seedy bars have had to relocate. But, instead of digging in trash cans like displaced bears, they go to Big Star Bar--the last unsullied dive. It's roomy and cheap and, dammit, it's real. Yes, it's kind of smelly but that's rock 'n' roll for you.
With a rotating cast of local musicians hitting the stage every night, this hybrid venue-bar-cafe has a major hand in supporting Houston's creative industries. With a seeming affection for the underdog, Mango's also caters to the city's hungry vegans by offering a meat-free menu. With all this free love and Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mango's is giving Austin a run for its money.
Bathed in the glow of the posh, burgundy surroundings, classy broads and gents with good credit sip classic cocktails like vodka gimlets while discussing the privilege of their River Oaks zip code. If you can make it past the doorman and into this sophisticated, visually intoxicating lounge, you know you've made it.