We’ll probably never get over the indie-cool factor of sign-less businesses, the ones that require patrons to be in-the-know, just to find them. Looking for the city’s underground hotspots? Consider this your fast pass to Houston’s secret society.
Last Concert Cafe
Don’t be dismayed when you find the front door locked. Knock twice on the big red entry to gain entry into this hidden gem that once served as a Warehouse District-based bordello. These days, the venue serves up a welcome mix of Tex-Mex fare and live music. Dine inside or snag a seat on the patio. Last Concert Cafe’s kitchen keeps it coming until midnight Friday and Saturday night, while the bar and concerts keep rocking until 2 a.m.
Keep an eye out for the big wooden doors and green lights beckoning patrons for potent libations and late-night bites at this dimly-lit Montrose gem. The menu is surprisingly gourmet, with snacks like smoked salmon carpaccio and homemade thin crust pizzas. Drinks are more bourgeois, including bottled beer and standard well drinks. Food is served until 2 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
You won’t find 13 Celsius’ name marking the exterior of Midtown’s European-inspired retreat, just look for a red-lit LED sign with the address (3000 Caroline) illuminated. Set in a 1920s Mediterranean-style building, the spot features an open-air courtyard, a windowed wine cellar filled with limited-production, high-quality vino and a 40-foot white marble bar—perfect for savoring a refreshingly-crisp, post-work Riesling and light bites. Stop in on Sundays for half-off a selection of wines by the glass and 25 percent off all beers.
Mongoose Versus Cobra
Created by the same folks behind the sign-less 13 Celsius, Mongoose versus Cobra reflects Ian Rosenberg and Mike Sammons' appreciation for under-the-radar styling. Set on McGowen Street, between Main Street and Fannin, Midtown's beer and spirit emporium mixes industrial aesthetics with homestyle design. Built in 1915, the ivy-covered structure was originally a grocery store and housed a number of other businesses through the years.
Originally a clothing store dating back to the first half of last century, Notsuoh is one of the only bar-clothing stores on the planet. Located along the MetroRail, the spot is marked by a retro-cool neon 'Clarks' sign hanging outside. Inside, sip on a gin and tonic and peruse vintage finds. Don't be surprised when, after a few drinks, that circa-'70s, butterfly-collar, leather waistcoat looks like a wardrobe must-have.
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