Dive bar or not, the patio is worth the trip.
Changes in ownership over the years have taken a toll on the dive bar credentials of Houston’s Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar located in the a Heights district of the city increasingly the target for redevelopment. Consistent across the many Dan Electro’s ownership groups has been a strong focus on live music, taking advantage of both an intimate indoor stage and one of the sneaky-best patios in the Houston area.
Founded in 1988 by Jim Mendenhall, Dan Electro’s certainly has longevity on its side, no sure thing when it comes to the Heights, where fresh developments pop up frequently amid the more established businesses in what was not always the most desirable part of Houston. The structure itself is expansive both inside and out, the considerable square footage enhanced over the years with each new owner looking for a fresh start.
A purchase in 2017 resulted in a handful of changes and a more recent closure, purchase and reopening in 2023 reimagined Dan Elector’s Guitar Bar almost entirely. The most visible emblem of this cycle of Dan Electro’s rebirth is the signage out front, where block letters have long spanned the wall attached to the building’s second story, the paint color and precise orientation of the letters a rotating tribute to the shifting fortunes of the Houston dive bar.
Today’s arrangement of the bar’s name is the most orderly so far, large letters affixed to what is now a more transparent structure, allowing for a peak of the building to shine through where previous incarnations were shrouded in a bit more mystery. Consistent also is the presence of an angler fish as part of the Dan Electro’s creative expression, found today on the sign that towers over the gravel parking lot in the front of the building.
The floorplan inside the building has opened up considerably, a short bar just inside the front door a small stopover in comparison to the broad space that serves the Dan Electro’s indoor stage. Where there was once a bring-your-own-liquor policy, today a full liquor license offers a complete array of options, including a number of craft beers on tap. Wood paneling here has been reimagined in a clear way, angled slats adding some visual character to the space and a bit of a nod to a more divey past.
Typical beer sign neon can be found throughout Dan Electro’s, the best piece the signature angler fish light that hangs in the front window. Fresh booths can be found surrounding much of the indoor space, the ceiling an open structure that again aids to the airy, open nature of the interior space. String lights hang from supporting beams in the ceiling, tables dotting the expansive stage-adjacent space with plenty of room reserved for a standing-room dancefloor.
Besides live music, the secondary Dan Electro’s calling card is the patio that runs off of the building, an area that was once a mix of wilderness and paved seating that has, you guessed it, be revamped in a much more modern style. Ambient lighting throughout this back area creates a pretty upscale environment, a new paved area extending off of the main building before giving way to a more casual dirt-and-picnic-table area toward the rear of the patio. The visual element of tilted wood panels is repeated here in the fence that rings much of the space.
Dan Electro’s at this point, across multiple ownership groups and a handful of decades no longer qualifies as a dive bar, though some hints at a more rustic past can be found throughout the property. But compelling live music venues are always welcome additions, particularly in tandem with open, relaxed patio drinking possibilities, a niche served well by this new incarnation of Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar.