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
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.