The days of settling for some sorry-looking nachos or where’s-the-meat chicken strips at the bar are thankfully over. The bar has been raised thanks to several Houston establishments that spend the necessary time and effort to make appealing and appetizing meals. While drinks still are what makes or breaks a bar, many of these places are just as much known for their menus. Join the foodies at these five establishments for a great meal.
The Petrol Station
985 Wakefield Drive
Houston, TX 77018
Known for superb food and wide variety of beers on tap, The Petrol Station has a legion of fans. Housed in a former gas station, the business won the 2012 Best Beer Bar award from Houston Press, and USA Today named it one of the 10 Houston Nightlife destinations. A perfect compliment to a craft beer is a burger, and that’s where The Petrol Station really shines. Options are the petrol pub burger, the rancor (adds bacon, cheddar and fired egg) or a lamb burger, using a blend of lamb and Angus beef, feta cheese, cucumber and Mary’s yogurt dressing. The sheppard’s pie and smokey mac and cheese also are crowd pleasers.
2713 Rockyridge Drive
Houston, TX 77063
Bar patrons can find standard pizza at many establishments across Houston. But if you are looking for a sports bar with actual Italian food, Nick’s Place is a good bet. The kitchen is open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, churning out orders of pizza dough tacos, chicken Florentine and homemade mac n cheese. The star culinary attraction is the calzone, which some have called the best in Houston. Wash it down with something from the bar while watching a wide variety of sports played on the 40 televisions.
Related: Best Food Challenges Around Houston
Red Lion Pub
2316 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77019
If your palate prefers the food of England, give Red Lion Pub a try. The pub was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2010. A good place to start is by trying than 20 English ales and imported beers on tap, or one of the single malt scotch selections. Then, move on to traditional favorites like the fish and chips, bangers and mash or shepherd’s pie. There are also well-received Indian dishes and chef’s creations, such as the skillet-seared sea scallops.
Max’s Wine Dive
4720 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007
With its innovative wine list and Texas comfort foods, Max’s Wine Dive is another outstanding spot for Houston foodies. While the menu changes by season, giant platters of Texas food are the norm. Popular dishes include shrimp & grits and southern fried chicken. Happy Hour and Reverse Happy Hour at the end of the night brings out the fried egg sandwich and bacon PB&J triangle. The place even has a its own mantra: “Fried Chicken and Champagne?… Why the Hell Not?!
Royal Oak Bar & Grill
1318 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
Gourmet pub fare and drinks are what the Royal Oak Bar & Grill promises upon a visit to its website and the restaurant delivers on that pledge. A relatively new entry to the Houston bar scene, the establishment was built in 2010 to be reminiscent of a swanky prohibition era speakeasy. A year later, the Royal Oak Bar & Grill won top honors for Best Bar Food from Houston Press. Many consider the truffle fries are considered the best in the city and the Gulf Shrimp & Grits also has been described as a must try. Weekday happy hour extends from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and includes $5 fried pickles and stuffed jalapenos. Not surprisingly, whiskey is a big draw as well.
Jeremy Shapiro is a freelance writer in the Houston area. While his trombone rendition of “Black in Back” isn’t terrible, his 10 years in journalism have left him better equipped to write about music, nightlife and other entertainment outings. His work can be found on Examiner.com.