The Best Restaurant Bars in Houston

Houston is a great city to eat in. For a long time, that came with the caveat that beverage choices might be somewhat… lacking. In the past few years, Houston’s restaurants have upped their game, from great cocktails to interesting and affordable wine to thoughtfully curated craft beer. Old standbys have rehabbed menus and new restaurants are coming out of the gates with shakers at the ready. — Nicholas Hall

  • 1

    Caracol

    This restaurant from storied husband-and-wife team Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught focuses on coastal Mexican cuisine. In keeping, the group's longtime sommelier Sean Beck has curated a white-heavy wine list with plenty of interesting sparkling. The cocktail list is agave-focused including a list of Palomas, Margaritas and seasonal Sangrias.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • Sparkling wine
    • full menu
    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoors / patio
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
  • 2

    Down House

    Down House is one of those wonderful places that wears many hats, and wears them well. From mid-morning coffee to family dinner to a first date, Down House's simple but well executed cooking and thoughtful bar program make this one of the most well-rounded destinations in the city. Newly appointed beverage director Travis Hinkle has created a thoughtful wine list focused on approachability and value. Cocktails are quirky riffs on classics, and are served morning until the wee hours.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • day drinking
    • outdoors/patio
    • low wine markups
  • 3

    Hugo's

    The restaurants in husband-and-wife team Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught's empire are among the most consistently excellent experiences in town. Key to that success are the intimately tailored beverage programs managed by sommelier Sean Beck, who's been with the group for more than a decade. Hugo’s has a strong focus on agave-based drinks, a perfect complement to the hearty regional Mexican cuisine, and presents diners with some of the city’s most adventurous opportunities for wine pairing. Beck explains with impressive detail what wines to pair (and not pair) with the menu's trickiest dishes, like mole, cochinita pibil ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • riesling
    • full menu
    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
  • 4

    Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

    One of Houston's old-guard steakhouses, Pappas Bros. is not only a temple of meat, but a drinking mecca too. Just about as old school and big money as you can get, the restaurant's wine list is, unquestionably, the largest in the state. When you rob a bank at gunpoint, this is where to spend the money. But if you're on a budget, the markups are also some of the city's lowest. Alongside the excellent floor somms, is young gun cocktail bartender Matt Tanner who cut his teeth at Anvil Bar & Refuge. When he revamped the outdated bar, Tanner integrated homemade ingredients and house drinks, while updating the classics for ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • vintage wine
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • craft beer
    • low wine markups
    • lots of whiskey
  • 5

    Provisions (at The Pass & Provisions)

    As the boozy half of an avant-garde restaurant outfit, drinks at the Provision's bar often take unexpected turns. Seasonal produce and spices usually reserved for a chef's hand all find their way into a mixing glass, resulting in drinks as thought-provoking as the food. 

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
    • craft beer
  • 6

    Sanctuari at Triniti

    Triniti is one of Houston's culinary gems, and its newly refocused bar, Sanctuari, is a destination in its own right. With its cool, two-tone floor, pale Nordic chairs and modern architectural lighting, Triniti is charming, but never veers into preciousness. The women directing the bar, Leslie Ross and Laurie Sheddan, have created a classical, elegant beverage program with knowing whimsy dashed throughout, particularly in their tendency to riff on the old standards with housemade ingredients like spicy orgeat, homemade cream soda and seasonal tinctures.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
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