PJ’s Sports Bar

Houston, Texas

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

There are bars that look like reclaimed houses and then there is PJ’s Sports Bar in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, a home that happens to house a dive bar with few, if any accommodating modifications. The bar’s massive front patio (rebuilt after it was run through by a car in 2018), hosts the Houston dive bar’s signature steak night, the centerpiece a 16-ounce hunk of meat grilled on the patio’s grill by owner PJ Mastro himself.

Field Rating

7

out of 10

Because there's nothing better than a fresh steak off a dive bar patio grill.

Field Note

Some dive bars look a bit like retrofitted houses, the vague semblance of an old floorplan perceptible among the reclaimed rooms and repurposed structures. PJ’s Sports Bar has done away with all pretense, the Houston dive bar’s structure quite literally a repurposed home down to the intact front door and classic, residential architecture. The front porch may look a little oversized for a single-family dwelling, but at first glance PJ’s Sports Bar is a home first, dive bar second.

Painted windows provide the first hint that a dive bar can be found within the white, painted brick structure, a series of window designs depicting some of PJ’s Sports Bar’s signature evenings including steak and karaoke nights. The eye catching exterior feature is the expansive front porch capped with a pergola-like structure that provides ample room for outdoor seating. The patio as seen today is actually a rebuilt version thanks to a car that plowed through the original patio in 2018. The front grill of the car can be seen affixed to the rebuilt portion of the patio, evident thanks to the change in wood color between old and new sections.

PJ’s Sports Bar obviously bills itself as a sports hub, but this is more a great place to convene with a group of friends and regulars to watch a single, Houston-based game.

Opened in 1994, PJ’s Sports Bar obviously bills itself as a sports hub, but this is more a great place to convene with a group of friends and regulars to watch a single, Houston-based game rather than an array of sports across multiple screens. The distribution of televisions is more selective than it is pervasive, making PJ’s a sports bar in the sense of the community drawn rather than the overwhelming technology deployed.

In keeping with the home’s original floorplan, a long staircase sits directly in front of the bar’s main door, bisecting the downstairs floorplan into a general seating area and an area devoted to housing spare supplies. The bar counter runs perpendicular to the front door, the staircase requiring a duck of the head to access the full row of stools nestled in the narrow space. The bar’s second story features a large, open space and supporting stage that hosts karaoke on weekend evenings and open mic comedy every Monday.

Given the sports theme, one might expect the pennants and framed posters that can be found throughout the Hoston dive bar’s space, but the more interesting pieces consist of what looks to be original artwork depicting Houston sports icons. Hand-painted Nolan Ryan mixes with James Harden and a host of other Houston Rockets stars. The bathroom even features an ode to baseball complete with bees buzzing around a an outdoor scene painted on what looks to be a boarded up window. Even a signed photo of OJ Simpson can be found here, the tip of the iceberg to a far-from-standard array of memorabilia and mementos.

The signature food event here is the weekly steak night where a steak, potato, salad and pitcher of beer are offered.

In addition to crawfish boils, the signature food event here is the weekly steak night where a steak, potato, salad and pitcher of beer are offered to both pairs and solo diners at reasonable prices, everything cooked up on the front patio grill by owner PJ Mastro. Massive 16-ounce steaks fly out of the grill when weather permits, loaded baked potato fixings made available to cap off a high-end dining experience as far as dive bar grills go.

Thanks to all of PJ’s Sports Bar’s amenities, a deep roster of locals and regulars has been cultivated over the years, some of them enshrined on the bar’s amazing, vintage-style web site under a special regulars-only section. Owner Mastro is often (seemingly always) the person behind the bar, catering to regulars and new visitors alike, adding to the familiar, comfortable vibe created by this Montrose-area staple.

Photos

The Basics

614 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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Further Reading

Houston Chronicle: Karaoke Review

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