GET YOUR GAME ON

Fred Faour: The top 10 coolest sports bars to watch Rockets-Warriors, plus the best spots in East Downtown

Coaches Pub makes our top 10 list. Coaches Pub/ Facebook

Now that Rockets-Warriors is finally here, maybe you are suddenly interested in the NBA playoffs. Not interested enough to go to the games, mind you, but certainly enough to hit a local sports bar and watch the action. In your honor, we have put together a  comprehensive list of the best sports bars. And we mean sports bars, not places that add a TV with a game on it and call themselves sports bars.

We try to give you options all around the area inside the beltway, and we rely on Yelp to help those outside the loop, but this should give you plenty choices should you decide to venture out and watch the games with friends.

The top 10

Nick's Place, 2713 Rocky Ridge, Westchase area: Pretty much the gold standard for sports bars in the city. Great food, no nonsense, just a sports bar in the purest sense of the word. More than enough TVs, a solid patio and great atmosphere.

Griff's, 3416 Roseland Street, Montrose area: An area icon for over 50 years, Griff's is as old school as it gets. Definitely a place where you go to watch sports. Their Tuesday night steak night is one of the best in the city.

Coaches Pub, 2204 Louisiana, Midtown: Has a different feel from the other bars in Midtown, as it is a pure sports bar with a lot of regulars. The food is outstanding for a bar, they have no shortage of TVs and the staff is terrific. The best part is unlike most Midtown bars, parking is readily available and free.

Lucky's Pub, various locations: The Lucky's in East Downtown is the best of the lot, but you can't go wrong with any of them. Another place that is a true sports bar in every sense of the word. 

Big City Wings, various locations: You would not necessarily think of a wing place as a sports bar, but Big City is exactly that. And the wings are terrific. With locations throughout the area, chances are there is one near you.

Christian's Tailgate, various locations: Another place that is designed with the sports fan in mind. Solid food menu, good beer selection and strong menu. Partial to the downtown location, which is a good pre-game and post-game spot if you are headed to Toyota Center.

Little Woodrow's, various locations: Much like Christian's, they have a mode that works well and they stick to it. Not much in the way of food, but usually there are food trucks or people onsite. The EaDo location is the most unique and has the best vibe, and is also walkable to Toyota Center.

West Alabama Ice House, 1919 Kirby, Upper Kirby: A true, old school ice house, this place has a nice beer selection and usually food trucks. Great place to unwind and watch the game.

St. Dane's, 502 Elgin, Midtown: Technically Midtown, but within spitting distance of Montrose as well. Really cool atmosphere and solid food. 

Twin Peaks, various locations: Very much a specialty bar, and like most of the others that have multiple locations, they stick to their playbook. The food is good and if you like scenery...

Best places to catch hockey playoffs in addition to the Rockets

Nick's Place has you covered on that as well, but here are two other really good bars for hockey playoffs:

The Maple Leaf Pub, 514 Elgin, Midtown: Hard not to love this place. It is hockey first, but it is a Canadian bar. Try the poutine. Life changing. Also next door to St. Dane's if you are bar hopping.

Revelry on Richmond, 1613 Richmond Avenue, Montrose: This place is terrific. Great food, world-class craft beer selection, plenty of TVs to catch whatever you want to watch.

Upscale sports bars

Live Sports Bar, 407 Main, downtown: Has a rooftop patio with awesome views and solid food. A little more high end than your average sports bar, but another place where you can pregame or postgame celebrate. 

Pub Fiction, 2303 Smith Street, Midtown: If you are dressed up nice after work and want a place to hit, here you are. It's got a little of the Midtown crowd vibe happening, but a really nice spot and a cool place to catch the games.

Biggio's, 1777 Walker Street, Downtown: Much better for baseball, but for a hotel bar, it is terrific. Definitely more high end but if that's what you are into, they have you covered.

Some East downtown favorites

Hey, this is my area, and it is growing fast. Obviously you already know about Little Woodrow's and Lucky's, but here are some other cool places to hit if you are coming downtown for the games and are smart enough to park on the East side of 59:

Around the Corner, 1510 Hutchins Street: Perhaps my favorite go-to bar, it is basically a house with a bar in it. Great staff, great atmosphere, enough TVs to watch the game and really good pizza. Their steak night on Thursdays is as good as it gets. Really good option if you want a nice place to chill and watch the game. In the same complex as Leeland House, a new breakfast lunch place that is really good as well. 

Truckyard, 2118 Lamar Street: Recently opened, this is a really strong addition to the area. Food is limited but the drink selection is through the roof, they have a great drink selection, monstrous patio and quality service. And a ferris wheel. Really. 

East End Hardware, 3005 Leeland: A true neighborhood bar with limited TVs, but they have a projection screen and if you want to catch the games, they will take care of you. Known for their alcohol-infused sno-cones, this place is a really cool hangout. 

Rodeo Goat, 2105 Dallas: The burgers are awesome and there are a LOT of choices. They also have really good craft beer and an attentive staff, especially if you are sitting at the bar. Which you will want to do if you are watching the games.

Neil's Bahr, 2006 Walker: OK, you won't go here to watch games. You will go here to play them. And hang out in a really cool eclectic place. You can play ping pong or MarioKart or watch The Simpsons. A nice after game chill place.

The New Potato: 3519 Clinton Drive: If you haven't tried this place, you are missing out. Pet friendly, lots of craft beers, good atmosphere, lots of good food trucks. Worth your time.

8th Wonder Brewery, 2202 Dallas: Pretty much the gold standard for the area. A staple in East Downtown, the brewery has embraced Houston's sports teams like no other, and has become a go-to pregame place for Astros and Rockets. And they just opened a vodka/gin distillery across the street. A must visit if you are in the area.

Secret Group, 2101 Polk: A comedy club (and a good one) they have something happening every night. Good place to stop by after the game and catch an act or a good drink.

Chapman and Kirby, 2118 Lamar: Slightly upscale, but a really nice bar with excellent food and plenty of places to watch the games. Expansive outdoor area as well.

Moon Tower, 3004 Canal: This is a really eclectic place with great food, as long as you are willing to wait for it. Good beer selection, too. Not a great watch place but a good pregame place.

Around the area

For those of you outside the city, Yelp has you covered. Here are some links for the suburbs:

For those of you in Pearland...

Or The Woodlands...

And Katy...

You can find Sugar Land here...

And we never forget about our good friends in Beaumont.

WWE's Royal Rumble arrives this Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Photo by Paul Muth

I'm not a big sign guy.

You know sign guys. The people who write puns on posters. The ones who carry the letter "D" in one had and a cutout of a literal fence in the other. The "Houston, YOU have a problem" sign guys.

I tried it once when I was 14, was punched in the face, and sort of lost my appetite after that.

Let me explain.

It was April 1, 2001. Wrestlemania 17. I won't ask my parents how much it cost them, but my aunt and uncle scored floor seats to the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment in no better confines than the Astrodome herself and I got to tag along.

It was a hell of a show. Some say it was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever. The card was stacked, including a Triple-H match against the hometown hero The Undertaker that set the stage for the main event.

At precisely two hours and forty-eight minutes into the event, Undertaker sent Triple-H flying over the barricade and "INTO THE STANDS!"

"Holy crap," 14-year-old Paul thought. "They're headed right down my aisle."

Now I'm not sure how it works these days, but back then it was totally customary to bail on your seat and follow the fight as they weaved up and down the aisles. I wasn't about to miss the chance so I grabbed my poorly scribbled wrestling poster, glanced back and my Aunt for the OK, then darted after the action.

The fight snaked its way up to some scaffolding with a camera perched atop. There, the fight would stall as they battled their way to the top. Oblivious to anything but the action in front of me, I threw my sign up as high as I could, probably screamed at the top of my lungs, and my voice probably cracked in the process. I was 14.

Suddenly someone pushed me in the back of my shoulder. I turned around and there was an old lady, maybe five feet tall, standing on her chair. She had the quintessential cowgirl big hair and enough costume jewelry on to short-circuit a metal detector.

"GET THE @#$% OUT THE WAY, BOY," she commanded in the most east Texas accent you've ever heard in your life. I ignored her and turned back around.

Then she pushed me again.

I turned around again and before I had any clue what was happening, this knockoff mini Dolly Parton had already connected a stiff left hook to my temple. She then grabbed my sign and ripped it in half. Stunned, I retreated to my seat while tending to a now bleeding eyebrow thanks to what I assume was a Wal-Mart engagement ring.

Haven't really been a big sign guy since.

But this weekend the WWE takes over Minute Maid Park for their annual Pay-Per-View event known as the Royal Rumble. It will be the first time since that fateful night in the Astrodome 19 years ago that I've returned to a high profile wrestling event.

Now am I looking forward to this weekend as an opportunity to retake the dignity that was ripped away so long ago? Probably not. I'll most likely just drink a bunch of beer and yell at wrestlers with my friends. But I'm not ruling anything out.

Now instead of a power rankings this week, I figured that in the spirit of the Royal Rumble we could rehash some of the best sports fights Houston's served up:

#5 Charles Barkley throws man through window

Now I know this one didn't happen on a court, but the story is just too good. In a classic case of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes," a 5'2" Floridian by the name of Jorge Lugo decided to harrass the 6'6" then-power forward for the Houston Rockets at an Orlando bar . Barkley ignored and avoided the issue until a Lugo-thrown glass intended for Barkley missed and struck a nearby woman. Bad move. When judge presiding over the ensuing case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, The Round Mound of Rebound replied "Yeah, I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

#4 Chris Paul serves a two-piece to Rajon Rondo

This one is actually fairly recent and adds to what I discovered was a hefty list of Rockets throw downs. After breaking up a stare down between Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and James Harden, Paul and Rondo began a heated chest-to-chest exchange. From all replay indications it appeared as if Rondo then spit on Paul, which triggered a disrespectful finger push to Rondo's face, which then descended into a good old fashioned knuckle sandwich exchange. Paul was suspended for two games.

#3 Derrick Lewis verifies amateur of amateur status

Some dude actually had the nerve to walk in to UFC Heavyweight fighter and Houston native Derrick Lewis' gym and pick a fight. The amateur claimed that he would knock Lewis out because he was an MMA fighter, and not a real boxer. "The Black Beast" was more than happy to oblige, and swiftly teleported the no name into the shadow realm.

#2 Vernon Maxwell fights Portland man

Sometimes people forget that sporting events are intended to be family friendly. Some also forget that players are people with actual feelings. Maxwell claims that aside from general harassment, a Portland fan decided to bring Maxwell's wife's recent miscarriage to light as well. Maxwell stood up from the bench, calmly walked up the stairs, and knocked the crap out of the dude. Maxwell was suspended 10 games.

#1 Andre Johnson baptizes Courtland Finnegan

It had been seasons in the making. Finnegan had built a reputation out of adding cheap shots here and there, ripping helmets off at the end of plays, and various other dirty tactics. In late November of 2010 Johnson had reached the end of his rope. Schadenfreude was the flavor of the day for all Texans fans as Johnson manhandled Finnegan, reigning down fists of righteous justice.

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