Nightlife in Houston: Best Bars, Clubs, & More

Skyline of Houston Texas at Dusk

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In a city as sprawling, vibrant, and diverse as Houston, as you might imagine, there are pockets of truly excellent nightlife—you just have to know where to look. In addition to a flourishing fancy cocktail scene, H-Town isn’t short on laid-back dives, sunny beer gardens with ample outdoor space, and well-known live music venues. Those who’d prefer a swanky, velvet rope-strewn nightclub experience won’t be disappointed, either. Read on to find out more about some of the best neighborhoods, bars, clubs, and concert venues to get a true taste of Houston’s nightlife. 

Best Areas for Nightlife in Houston

As with all large cities, in terms of the drinking scene, there are some neighborhoods you can’t miss.

  • Downtown. If you’re up for a bar crawl, Downtown is a great place to do so—this is where you’ll find many of Houston’s most popular nighttime hangouts, all (or most) within walking distance of each other.  
  • Galleria/Uptown. Want to shop (and then maybe drink) ‘til you drop? The always-crowded Galleria has plenty of pubs and wine bars to choose from after you’ve gotten your shopping fix. 
  • Midtown. For a rowdy night out, Midtown is the perfect place to be. You’ll find a wide variety of cocktail bars, wine bars, beer gardens, and after-hours clubs here.  
  • Washington Avenue. Stretching from Downtown through Memorial Park, Washington Avenue comes alive with glammed-up clubgoers at night. This is where the majority of the city’s slick, see-and-be-seen nightclubs are.   
  • Rice Village. If you want to re-live your college days, head to Rice Village, where there's no shortage of cheap dives, pubs, and jam-packed patios. 
  • Montrose. Just west of Downtown, Montrose is known for being Houston’s slightly bohemian, hipster neighborhood—the place where you can pair your craft brew with a slam-poetry reading, if you will. It’s also easier to bar-hop here than in most other neighborhoods, where walkability can be an issue. 

Cocktail Bars

Offering everything from tiki bars serving up fruity drinks to an award-winning establishment that slings Southern flavors, Houston is becoming well-known for its eclectic cocktail scene. Here are some of the best of the best.

  • Monkey’s Tail: You could easily spend hours at Monkey’s Tail, a Mexican-American cocktail dive with a great indoor/outdoor setup and an effortlessly cool vibe. The food menu includes hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and other easygoing grub. 
  • Anvil Bar & Refuge: The list of cool, inventive cocktails is seemingly endless at Anvil Bar & Refuge, which was one of the first craft cocktail bars on the scene and continues to be one of the best. 
  • SoHo Garden: An outdoor bar located within a courtyard, SoHo Garden is easily one of the most striking-looking bars in Downtown. Enjoy stiff craft cocktails surrounded by lush plants and flowers at this perfect date-night spot.    
  • Julep: Frequently called one of the best bars in America, this Southern-inspired gem won the Outstanding Bar Program category at the 2022 James Beard Awards. Come here for bold, old-fashioned drinks (get a julep or Sazerac) inside an impeccably designed 1880s-era uniform factory. 
  • Eight Row Flint: This bar’s got it all—a great patio, frozen cocktails (a staple drink during those famously sweaty Houston summers), and tacos. What more could you ask for? 
  • Lei Low: Get into the tiki spirit at Lei Low, where the rum flows like water and the cocktails come with fun garnishes, like bananas carved to look like dolphins (yes, really). 

Wine Bars

If pinot noir and charcuterie are calling your name, Houston has a number of excellent wine bars that are sure to please.

  • Bacco: With locations in West University and Braeswood Place, Bacco exudes homey, countryside bed-and-breakfast vibes in the form of vintage furniture, cozy, tucked-away nooks, and swing-filled patios. The wine menu is well-curated yet relatively affordable. There’s also a small food menu with crispy thin-crust pizza and other light bites.
  • 13 Celsius: Housed in a historic, 1920s-era building in Midtown, 13 Celsius boasts an extensive menu of more than 450 global selections, all kept in a perfectly calibrated cooler—whether you’re a diehard wine connoisseur or a newbie trying to get into the game, you’ll definitely learn something new (and sample something tasty and unexpected) at this little gem of a neighborhood wine bar.
  • Trez Bistro & Wine Bar: One of the best wine bars in Houston, Trez Bistro & Wine Bar is a Black-owned Montrose establishment with $30 wine flights and a robust wine list heavy on varietals from Argentina, California, Oregon, France, Spain, and Italy. Come for brunch, dinner, or light bites, and listen to live music as you sip and dine. Plus, Trez gives local and national artists opportunities to display their work, with art exhibitions regularly on tap.

Beer Gardens, Dives, and Pubs

Houston's bars are certainly worth writing home about. Whatever you're feeling, whether dive bar or beer garden, you'll find something to fit your mood.

  • Cobble & Spoke: Offering an ever-changing menu of 40 taps from small, independent breweries (solely located in Houston and Texas), Cobble & Spoke is a cycling-friendly bar (hence the name). Wine, cider, and non-alcoholic options are available as well. Park your bikes at the rack by the door, grab a brew, and pull up a seat at a picnic table on the sunny patio.
  • Axelrad Beer Garden: Chill out in hammocks and chow down on pizza alongside your craft brew at Axelrad Beer Garden, an unassuming, off-the-beaten-path beer garden in Midtown. At night, the colorful string lights come on, and live music and movie screenings are a regular occurrence.  
  • Heights Bier Garten: With 60 beers, 30 wines, and four ciders on tap to choose from, you’ll find the perfect beverage to quench your thirst at Heights Bier Garten. The bar has a separate indoor cocktail bar if that’s more your speed, and the full food menu includes a variety of entrées, burgers, and salads.
  • Wooster’s Garden: It’s not often that you’ll find a beer garden with killer cocktails, but Wooster’s Garden is the exception. A floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door connects the elegant interior with the outdoor seating area, and on the weekends, there’s a rotating cast of food trucks.  
  • Lola’s Depot: Lola’s is a true counterpoint to the glossy, high-end nightclubs in the neighborhood. This for-real dive bar has cheap drinks, a timeworn jukebox, salty bartenders, and of course, grungy, windowless darkness. 
  • Lil’ Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge: One of the city’s buzziest bars, Lil’ Danny Speedo’s checks all the (upscale) Houston dive-y boxes: It’s located in a former UFO-themed ice house. There’s a dog-friendly patio. There are frozen seasonal drinks galore, plus a daily rotation of food pop-ups. And, of course, there’s that bizarre, unforgettable name. 
  • West Alabama Ice House: Houston’s iconic West Alabama Ice House has been drawing crowds since 1928, with its big backyard, horseshoes and basketball courts, rotating selection of food trucks, and rows of picnic tables filled with regulars. Lone Stars and tacos al pastor for everyone.

Live Music and Dancing

From jazz venues to nightclubs playing your favorite '90s hits, these are the best places in Houston to dance (or nod your head to) the night away.

  • Stampede Houston: For a Texas-style nightclub experience, head to Stampede Houston. Located on 33 acres of land a little over 10 miles from downtown, this country bar has it all: a huge hardwood dancing floor, a mechanical bull, karaoke, live music, poker tournaments, free line-dancing lessons, and more. 
  • Barbarella: Austin import Barbarella has quickly become one of the best dance clubs in the city, beloved for its talented DJs, lovingly curated indie music, theme nights (Thursdays are 90s Night and Fridays are New Noise, with under-the-radar hipster bands), and LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere.     
  • Etro NightClub: For a solid dose of 80’s music and dance culture (which, let’s be honest, we all need from time to time), head to Etro NightClub, located on Main Street. Club-goers can dance the night away to The Cure and Depeche Mode while sipping cheap (strong) cocktails.
  • Ready Room: Easily one of Houston's best jazz venues, Ready Room hosts local bands on Thursdays from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., while its own house band sets up shop on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Come for the live music, and stay for the delicious drinks menu featuring cocktails, spirits, and alcohol-free sparkling teas.

Tips for Going Out in Houston

  • Houston may be sprawling, but luckily, much of the city’s nightlife is concentrated in a few neighborhood clusters. That being said, you’ll probably need to use a rideshare service if you’re going out in car-centric Houston. The most popular rideshare apps include Uber and Lyft. 
  • Be prepared to place your last order before last call at 2 a.m.
  • Check to make sure there’s not a dress code before heading out; some bars and clubs in Houston require formal attire.