Ice houses have a special place in Texas history. In the early 1900s, nearly every Texas town had one of these establishments, which sold ice blocks for home ice boxes. But with the advent of electrical refrigerators, ice houses evolved into small convenience stores of sorts, and eventually became neighborhood gathering places where patrons could stop for an ice cold beer and conversation.
While many ice houses have disappeared, Houston still has a number of these establishments – some old, some new and some reinvented – where you can go to kick back, relax and enjoy an ice cold beer with the locals.
West Alabama Ice House
The most iconic, perhaps, is West Alabama Ice House. Dating back to 1928, this popular Houston establishment has stayed true to its ice house roots by serving only beer, wine, cider and soft drinks. Yet to cater to modern times, the bar now features flat-screen TVs, misting fans for when the heat gets to be too much, and craft beers. Still, a visit here will give you the same feel of the ice houses of the past, a communal feel where people come together to hang out and enjoy a cold drink. Dogs and kids are welcome.
Bobcat Teddy's Ice House
After 75 years of serving cold beverages to Houstonians, Jimmy’s Ice House on West Oak Drive closed its doors in June of 2017. In its place appeared Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House, a bar hoping to bridge past and present by maintaining the spirit of Jimmy’s with just a few modern touches. At Bobcat Teddy’s, visitors will still find friendly faces, good beer prices and much of the decor of the old Jimmy’s with the addition of a new deck, expanded patio, more TVs and cocktails.
Mike's Ice House
Mike’s Ice House has been in business in Houston for almost 50 years. Located near Fondren Rd. and Westpark, surrounded by mechanic shops, empty lots and an industrial office buildings, this neighborhood joint serves cold beers, tacos, burgers and other bar foods. Its open garage doors give it an open-air feel and a relaxed atmosphere where patrons can chill, talk and watch sports.
Catty Corner Ice House
For a true neighborhood bar feel, head to Catty Corner Ice House in Garden Oaks, just north of the Heights. Grab a seat at the bar or on the outdoor patio, play a game of pool, darts or horseshoes, watch sports or just sit back and enjoy your cold beer. This old-school bar is a relaxed and casual as they come. Catty Corner hosts karaoke nights, offers free pool and now has a full bar if liquor is more your thing.
Eight Row Flint
“A revisionist ice house” is how Agricole Hospitality owners Morgan Weber and chef Ryan Pera describe Eight Row Flint, the Heights bar they opened in 2016. The place, a minimalistic space with an expansive covered patio and a smaller indoor bar area that opens to the outdoor space, has the feel of an old ice house with a modern twist. While local and craft beers are available, Eight Row Flint also serves cocktails – frozen and on the rocks – and whiskey straight from the barrel. On the menu, tacos take center stage along with snacks and bar bites like wings and nachos.