Houston Dive Bar Guide

Glimpses of Houston's Everyday Past

Like every city, Houston embodies the endless struggle between “progress” and the preservation of some of the city’s long-standing, everyday icons. Dive bars fall squarely within that conflict, a phenomenon clearly seen in the dwindling number of traditional Texas ice houses across the city while legit, pre-Prohibition ice house West Alabama Ice House forges ahead.

Houston is full of dive bar gems, though, resisting gentrification in neighborhoods progressively overrun by upscale bars and restaurants. Lola’s Depot in Montrose is a purple shack covered in Christmas lights and the occasional inflatable on the roof, a dive bar beacon in a part of town that sorely needs one. D&W Lounge anchors east side Second Ward, open at 7 AM thanks to a now closed but longtime Maxwell House plant nearby supplying thirsty third-shifters through the years.

And then there’s Rose Garden in The Heights, a dive bar pleasantly difficult to find and fittingly nestled underneath a freeway. The building is tiny, the parking is difficult and the owner lives across the street, all of which is hard to beat as dive bars go.

These selections and more offer a glimpse of authentic Houston in a part of the country that has grown almost relentlessly for decades. A cold beer in a dimly lit former ice house may be one of the best ways to experience Houston’s everyday past.

Dive Bar Map

Houston Dive Bar Reviews

Ranked Order

Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

D&W Lounge

Review Rating: 10 out of 10
Yes, you've found the right building though it may not seem that way at first glance. Try the handle and you won't be disappointed.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Rose Garden

Review Rating: 10 out of 10
Operated by the timeless Rose Marie, this one-room schoolhouse of a dive bar is as local and as intimate as it gets.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

West Alabama Ice House

Review Rating: 9 out of 10
This deceptively small structure surrounded by an expansive patio is a legit ice house and a great first Houston stop.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Lola's Depot

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
No sign, icicle lights, parking that resembles a loading dock, all of the strong dive bar signals are in play at Lola's.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Big Star Bar

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
Nestled in the Heights, Big Star Bar is a colorful, mismatched dive bar icon that predates the area's burst of redevelopment.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Warren's Inn

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
Moved once after a mysterious building fire, Warren's Inn features some of downtown Houston's best neon signage.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

PJ's Sports Bar

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
A house-turned-dive-bar isn't new, but PJ's might still be an actual house from the look of it, featuring a renowned Thursday steak night.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Shady Acres Saloon

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
The structure itself is nicely divey, but the real attraction here is the honkytonk-feeling back patio and extended seating area.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Catty Corner Ice House

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Another Houston ice house, Catty Corner features a modest setup with an impressive pool room and a BYOMeat grill out back.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Dan Electro's Guitar Bar

Review Rating: 5 out of 10
What was once a dive bar is now more a polished, semi-upscale drinking spot, though the beautiful patio is worth a beer.

Houston Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Midtown

Shoeshine Charley's Big Top

3714 Main St
Houston, TX 77002
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Montrose

Griff's

3416 Roseland St
Houston, TX 77006
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West University

Big Easy Social

5731 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77005
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Other Dive Bar Options

Blue Lagoon Club

1248 Witte Rd
Houston, TX 77055
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Boondocks

1417 Westheimer Rd Unit B
Houston, TX 77006
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Catbirds

1336 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
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Cozy Corner

11530 Burdine St Unit A
Houston, TX 77035
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Eighteen Ten Ojeman

1810 Ojeman Rd
Houston, TX 77080
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Grand Prize Bar

1010 Banks St
Houston, TX 77006
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Hunters Pub

10549 S Post Oak Rd
Houston, TX 77035
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Irish Pub Kenneally's

2111 S Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77019
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Komodo's Pub

2004 Baldwin St
Houston, TX 77002
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Lil Danny Speedo's Go Fly A Kite Lounge

823 Dumble St
Houston, TX 77023
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Mad Bull Club

14114 Hempstead Rd
Houston, TX 77040
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Neil's Bahr

2006 Walker St
Houston, TX 77003
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NJ's

3815 Mangum Rd
Houston, TX 77092
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Ray Ray's Sports Bar

1101 Collingsworth St
Houston, TX 77009
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Shorty's Sports Bar

7433 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77011
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Sunny's

902 Capitol St
Houston, TX 77002
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T A's Cargo Club

3604 Mangum Rd B
Houston, TX 77092
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The Dirt Bar

1209 Caroline St
Houston, TX 77002
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The Farm Drinkery

16646 Champion Forest Dr
Spring, TX 77379
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The Shiloh Club

1321 Studewood St
Houston, TX 77008
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Three Sheets Bar & Grill

1900 S Kirkwood Rd # G
Houston, TX 77077
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Voodoo Queen Daiquiri Dive

322 Milby St
Houston, TX 77003
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What Did We Miss?

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