If you’re visiting NRG stadium for the rodeo or other conventions or sporting events, you may want to leave the NRG complex and see more of nearby Houston. I worked with my friends at Trip Chandler to make a guide to the best bars and restaurants in Houston for visiting sports fans!
Houston is a sports town, hosting the 2017 Super Bowl, the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four, plus eight professional sports teams of their own. Plus we put on one of the richest professional rodeos in the country. Our guide concentrates on areas around the major sports venues – NRG, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, BBVA Compass Stadium and the light rail that connects them. Others are a quick cab or uber ride away.
Icehouses and Taco Stands
It’s can be hot in Houston no matter what the season so we suggest you chill out as much as possible during your visit. Trade in the pub for the icehouse – our open air beer joints usually come with a selection of locally made ice cold craft beers, a nearby food truck, big screen TVs, a grumpy regular, picnic tables, some shade, misting fans, and dogs but all are laid-back and welcoming.
For old school, head to the West Alabama Ice House where Tacos Tierra Caliente is conveniently parked across the street (cash only) for a taste of local cuisine – the taco. Use caution with their red salsa!
For a new spin on the icehouse scene, check out D & T Drive Inn and their menu of Texas standards like Frito pie & pimento cheese served with Ritz crackers. If your crew craves more beverages than just beer, 8 Row Flint in the historic Heights neighborhood offers whisky, wine, cocktails, and tacos too.
Best Bars and Restaurants in Houston on rail – Downtown
If you’re staying downtown, let the rail line serve as your guide.
Highlights along Main Street include Honeymoon Café for a dose of southern hospitality, the Nightingale Room featuring both live music and LPs, The Pastry War for tequila and tamales, and Flying Saucer for wall to wall beer.
Other options just a block away from the rail line include OKRA Charity Saloon where you can legally vote in the US … for a local non-profit with every drink you purchase! Hit historic Market Square Park for classic bars with the best jukeboxes in town: La Carafe (wine & beer/cash only) and Warren’s Inn for no fuss cocktails. To score late night eats, head straight for a slice at Frank’s Pizza (open until 1 am on Thurs; 3 am Fri-Sat).
Best Bars and Restaurants in Houston on rail – Mid-Main
Further along the rail line towards NRG Arena is the Mid-Main neighborhood anchored by the Continental Club. See how Beetle, “Houston’s Best Beatle Band,” measures up Thursday for happy hour which starts at 7. Friday night, Von Hindenburg, a Led Zeppelin tribute band takes the stage followed by the Fistful of Soul dance party.
Double Trouble next door offers caffeine and cocktails, Natchee’s for American classics and Tacos A Go for more tacos of course!
Come back to shop the next day for music at Sig’s Lagoon where the walls are covered with Texas music history and My Flaming Heart for rockabilly wear and souvenirs with a soul.
Best Bars and Restaurants in Houston – Rice Village
For those with a car or uber/lyft users, Rice Village offers walkable stretches of retail, restaurants, and bars not far from the NRG Arena. Cool off with the far out ice cream confections at Cloud 10 Creamery or a scoop at the cocoa-centric Chocolate Bar. The Ginger Man has an easy-drinking vibe with a menu of beer-friendly snacks (pretzels!) and for late night eats, get in line for YoYo’s Hot Dogs – a hot dog meets crunchy roll creation crafted by a former sushi chef. (Thurs-Sun approximately 8 pm – 3 am). Listen to live music from blues to zydeco at the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club.
For a scenic stroll, the nearby public art-filled campus of Rice University will really make you feel smart while drinking at their Graduate Student Pub, Valhalla, with budget-friendly prices. (Mon—Fri 4 pm – 2 am; closed Sat; Sun 7 pm-12 am; cash only)
Best Bars and Restaurants in Houston – NRG area
If you’re staying around the NRG Arena, sample local eats with visits to Shipley’s in the morning for donuts, lunch at Frenchy’s Fried Chicken, and a scoop at Hank’s Ice Cream (try their signature banana pudding flavor!).
The Main Street Corridor is also home to a strip of Filipino dining options: load up on comfort food at Pugon de Manila’s buffet and takeaway desserts, Manila Mini Mart for snacks, Jollibee fast food chain & Red Ribbon Bakery for their ube (purple yam) cakes and sweets.
Hotel Ylem, a new, locally owned boutique hotel hosts happy hour in their Esperanto Bar and is a short walk to the arena (along with the remains of the Astrodome!)
About Trip Chandler
Dana DuTerroil & Joni Fincham are your Trip Chandlers. Dana is a native Texan who grew up in Houston but considers New Orleans a second home. Joni is a Houston transplant via Kansas, North Carolina, Scotland and New Orleans. They have joined forces as Trip Chandler to personalize the city whether you’re here for a short stay or a permanent move. Contact Trip Chandler for your own tailor-made guide to Houston. www.tripchandler.com
About Funky Texas Traveler
Linda Ware is the Funky Texas Traveler. She is a transplanted Texan with a love for the history, people and peculiarities of her adopted state. Her blog, Funky Texas Traveler introduces natives and visitors to all things Texas. Read more about Linda and the Funky Texas Traveler blog here.