Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Heading Back To Houston

There are a lot of bars on and just around Houston so this seem like an area ripe for a few more visits. And it is convenient enough to get to by subway. It turns out that several of the bars are owned by the same guy and everyone, including the bartenders, seem to know everyone else.

940) Rialto

Well, this one didn’t really fit the mold but it was on the way from the subway to Houston as I walked along Elizabeth Street. It is at 265 Elizabeth, not far from Houston. A bar and a restaurant that is quite a bit larger than it first appears. There is an L shaped wooden bar up front with eight bar stools. The short side of the bar is next to a large window that was wide open on this unusually warm day. A little wooden bench sits just under the window sill.

The bar back is a distressed wood framed mirror behind tiered shelves of liquor with stacks of glasses in front. Underneath are coolers with metal doors. The walls are patterned yellow tiles and the ceiling is a matching shade of yellow. There are large, high backed curved red banquettes against the walls in the dining area and one separates the bar from this area. The dining area also has numerous tables and chairs. Little lights with orange shades are mounted on the walls. At first glance this looks like the extent of the place but then you notice a lounge area in the back with sofas and beyond that a large covered outdoor area complete with heaters in case it ever does get cold this year.

I had a glass of Hoegaarden.

941) Vasmay

Another great bar on the corner of Houston and Suffolk. It could be a great dive bar but it is on a corner and a bit too big with too many windows to really qualify for that classification. Let’s just call it dive-like because it has everything else going for it including a great cast of characters and a friendly bartender.

Elisha, The Friendly Bartender Who Pulled A Decent Pint

It took me forever to take my notes because everyone was so friendly and chatty, particularly when they found about my quest. I also ended up staying here longer than I had planned and had a few more pints as well.

The bar is a beat-up old wooden thing with a black ledge for your feet and a brass beer station with eight spigots. The wood bar chairs have black vinyl seats that are suitably torn and taped. The bar back is old wood shelving and cabinets and mirrors. There are tiered shelves of liquor but, alas, no Jagermeister. Now this wasn’t too distressing to Bar Man but it was to one of the patrons who offered to pay the bartender to run out and get a bottle and said he would still pay for the drinks. This didn’t happen though. When you get to the point where you are making that kind of an offer you have probably had a bit too much to drink already.

The walls are a combination of bricks, red plaster, and wood paneling. Ledges by the windows have bar chairs in front of them so you can sit there, have a drink, and watch the passing crowd. But there is more stuff to see inside. Behind the bar are religious statues, old suitcases, disco balls, skeleton lights, pictures of Marilyn Monroe and others, and much more. Hanging over the bar are four antique lights, each one different, that are quite elaborate. All kinds of interesting pictures hang on the walls and there is an Elvis bust sitting on one window sill and a ballerina lamp on the other.

There is a pool table in the back and a centipede machine and what looks like the back seat of a car up against the wall under another couple of interesting paintings. All and all this was a very nice place and they have a great two for one happy hour.

I had, shall we say, a few pints of Guinness.

942) Nice Guy Eddie’s

I was going to just head home after Vasmay but people recommended other bars in the area and I passed right by this one on the way back to the subway so in I popped. This is a big dark place on the corner of Houston and Avenue A. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this month but it isn’t like the place is all decorated up for it or anything. There was some tinsel hanging above the partition that separated the bar from the dining area, but that appeared to be it.

There is a long dark bar with a linoleum-like top and no place for your feet at my end. The brass rail just came to an end about half way down the bar, like someone sawed if off and moved it elsewhere. Three old brass beer stations in various shapes and sizes and all in serious need of polishing sit on the bar.

The bar back is kind of a plain set of tiered shelves with a large selection of bottles in front of mirrors covered sports team pennants and photos of customers. There are ledges along the windows on the Avenue A side with stools in front. Black cushioned benches sit in front of the windows on the Houston side and tables with red and white checkered tablecloths sit in front of them A wood partition (with the tinsel hanging above it) separates the bar from that side of the room and there are more tables, also with red and white checkered tablecloths, and tables over there. It doesn’t really seem like you would go here to eat but they did have a sign on the wall advertising a Thanksgiving dinner for $19.95. There weren’t too many people in here but everyone was eating something. I gave in and ordered the calamari appetizers and it was very good indeed. Nicely crunchy and soft inside. It came with a chipotle mayonnaise that was very tasty indeed. Easily enough for two and I could only eat less than half of my portion as good as it was.

I got into a conversation with the bartender, Maggie, about chipotles and my favorite brand of the canned ones, La Morena’s. It turned out this was the brand they used here. Maggie also said something about a family cookbook that, I believe, her mother was putting together and she said that was the brand recommend in that as well. It is always nice to run into another chipotle aficionado.

Maggie, Bartender And Chipotle Aficionado

There are a number of pictures from Reservoir Dogs along with a large poster from the movie hanging on the walls. You might be able to guess where the name of the bar comes from.

I had a draft Widmer Hefeweizen and headed home.

A most pleasant day with three bars hit making 942 for the year and leaving 58 to go.


McSomething said...

You should try the gin Elisha is holding. Hendricks. It's Scottish and when I was a student back in the old country......I worked for the company that eventually produced this. Back in the early 1990s this was just a glimmer in a marketing guy's eye and I worked on the original focus groups about a "Scottish gin".....and now it is here. It's actually pretty tasty. And I like the marketing BS about it best being savored with a cucumber not a lemon! Fantastic what us marketing wallahs make up. Try one and let me know what you think Barman.

josh williams said...

I think Gin and a cucumber is close kin to a pickle.

martyfreeman said...

Chew a Caper while sipping very cold gin.

Roberto Iza Valdes said...
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