CultureMap and SportsMap are teaming up to celebrate the return of the fall sports season with The Tailgate, our all-out party devoted to everything sports. It’s happening Wednesday, October 25 at Silver Street Studios, and tickets are already on sale.
For The Tailgate’s second year, we’re inviting CultureMap and SportsMap readers to vote for Houston’s best sports bar in our Ultimate Sports Bar Showdown. Our panel of editors and other local experts has compiled a roster of 16 local favorites with an array of different strengths. Some are owned by professional athletes, while others are part of local or national chains.
Some are big enough to accommodate hundreds of people at a time, while others are more intimate. Regardless of the specifics, they all offer a lively atmosphere for rooting on all of our favorite teams.
Rather than a head-to-head, bracket-style tournament, we’re inviting readers to vote for their favorite establishments from the entire field. The top half of all vote getters will advance to the next round as we go from 16 to eight to four to two to a winner. People may vote once per day, and voting will be monitored to ensure every establishment gets a fair shot to win. Vote here for your favorite.
Want to find out who wins? Join us at The Tailgate on Wednesday, October 25 at Silver Street Studios. Favorite restaurants such as FM Kitchen and Bar, Wild Concepts, Leaf & Grain, Ramen Tatsu-ya, and CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Best New Restaurant winner Aiko will serve sports-themed bites alongside many of our Ultimate Sports Bar nominees.
The event also will shine a spotlight on sports-related nonprofits and give you the chance to pitch in and make a difference for the causes they champion. Learn more about Dynamo and Dash Charities, Houston Texans Foundation, and others.
General admission ($50) and VIP ($75) tickets are on sale now. All tickets include bites by participating restaurants, complimentary premium beverages, and access to fun activities throughout the event. VIP tickets offer one-hour early entry, a dedicated VIP bar, and a meet-and-greet with former Houston Texans star Johnathan Joseph. Buy them now.
Not sure who to vote for? Read on for profiles of all 16 nominees. May the best sports bar win.
The first of three sports bar nominees tied to a professional athlete, Biggio’s honors Craig Biggio, the first player to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing an Astros cap. Located inside downtown’s luxurious Marriott Marquis — yes, that’s the one with the Texas-shaped lazy river — Biggio’s features two, 30-foot tall screens that wouldn’t be out of place in a Vegas sportsbook. With an extensive cocktail selection and a wide-ranging menu, it’s an ideal place to celebrate an Astros win.
Biggio's has plenty of TVs. Photo courtesy of Biggio's.
Originally a legendary burger joint on the I-10 feeder, Christian’s has evolved into a four-location mini-empire of local sports bars. The burger still leads the way, of course, but they’re now joined by tacos, sandwiches, wings, and even salads. Daily specials and a generous reverse happy hour ensure fans stay properly motivated to root for their favorite teams.
Grab a burger at Christian's Tailgate. Photo courtesy of Christian's Tailgate.
This EaDo bar’s proximity to both Minute Maid Park and Shell Energy Stadium has made it a favorite place for Dynamo fans and members of #AstrosTwitter to gather for pre and post-game celebrations. It probably helps that owner Raul Jacobo (aka Cobo) maintains such a fiery presence on the platform, posting in support of the local teams and mocking their rivals. The epic deliciousness of the signature brisket boudin mac and cheese quesadilla helps, too.
A Montrose favorite for more than 15 years, this gay sports bar subverts stereotypes and affirms that all Houstonians like to root for their favorite teams. When patrons aren’t watching TVs, they gather around the pool table or at the dart boards. Get there early on Thursday nights for the steak special as it routinely sells out.
The lines about “everything is bigger in Texas” are mostly a tired cliche, but it is true at this three-location sports bar empire. Each one that opens debuts with what’s touted as “the longest bar in Texas” (surpassing its predecessor) — all the better to find a space to choose from the dozens of beer, wine, and cocktail options. The massive interiors and spacious patios also mean never having to struggle to find a place to watch one of the dozens of TVs that fill each location.
Kirby Ice House features a 120-foot long bar. Photo courtesy of Kirby Icehouse.
Given that it has locations all over Texas, including nine in Greater Houston, we probably don’t need to say much about Little Woodrow’s. We celebrate this local institution for its extensive beer selection, lively atmosphere, and hospitable service. No wonder that so many alumni groups make it their game-watching destination of choice.
Among sports fans, it’s routinely acknowledged that the NHL playoffs are the most exciting tournament of the four major professional sports. Hockey-loving Houstonians know that the most exciting place to watch the NHL is this Midtown bar. Being surrounded by like-minded fans always creates a festive atmosphere, as does the Molson on tap and the signature poutine.
With its casual, indoor-outdoor space, dog-friendly environment, and signature swings, both the original Shady Acres location and downtown outpost have become popular destinations. TVs everywhere allows fans to follow multiple games at once — perfect at times like the NCAA tournament or when watching the Rangers choke away the division. The formula has proven popular enough to sprout two locations in San Antonio and a new Webster expansion that’s opening soon.
For almost 30 years, this West Houston sports bar has prided itself on showing every major college and pro game — as well as boxing, UFC, and WWE — on its more than 40 TVs. Serving food until 1 am means that fans can get a signature calzone or other Italian American favorite even when the games go into overtime. Weekday happy hour specials keep regulars coming back again and again.
Fans of the Longhorns, Aggies, and LSU Tigers have made this Heights-area patio bar their game day destination. Patterson Park caters to their interests with team-themed drink specials, food trucks, and more than 40 TVs spread throughout its inviting, treehouse-inspired atmosphere. Co-owner Lonnie Schiller, one of the Houston hospitality legends who founded concepts such as Cafe Annie and Cafe Express, ensures that friendly, welcoming service will always be a priority.
Dynamo legend Brian Ching partnered with the owners of the Kirby Group (Heights Bier Garten, Holman Draft Hall, etc.) on this sprawling bar in EaDo. Located blocks from Shell Energy Stadium, it’s become a favorite pre and post-game destination as well as one of the city’s most popular destinations to watch the World Cup and other global tournaments. Those who are feeling particularly athletic can show off their skills on on its indoor pitch.
This intimate Montrose pub is a favorite of sports fans who appreciate its welcoming atmosphere and elevated pub group that caters to the neighborhood with well-executed plant-based dishes. The 24 TVs mean never missing a critical play. Regular parking lot parties take the fun outside.
At 18,000-square-feet, this massive Midtown bar offers plenty of room for watching the game. A scratch-made kitchen, including Italian-style pizzas made with imported flour, offers a fresh alertnative to typical pub fare. Beer towers, bottle service, and craft cocktails help fans keep their spirits up throughout the night.
Our third athlete-owned establishment comes from native Houstonian Michael Brockers, who had a distinguished career at LSU before playing for the Rams and Lions. Newly opened in Third Ward, Quad and its companion cigar lounge The Den feature a menu of elevated, Southern-style fare such as blackened salmon and shrimp and grits. With more than 40 TVs, fans will never miss a pitch, snap, or corner kick.
Among our most recently-opened nominees, this concept from the minds behind Patterson Park and The Warwick features a lively game day atmosphere that’s backed up by a game day Goal Line menu. It features specials such as red and blue frozen cocktails, $15 domestic buckets, and massive platters that combine wings, chicken tenders, and Rockhouse’s signature oxtail egg rolls. On weekends, the restaurant lives up to its name with live music in a variety of genres.
Rockhouse Southern Kitchen serves upscale Southern fare. Photo Raydon Creative.
With more than 100 locations across the U.S. and Mexico, Twin Peaks is arguably the country’s most successful sports bar. While the attractive staff gets people in the door the first time, they come back for scratch-made food that includes in-house smoked pork ribs and chicken wings. Cold beers and plenty of TVs further enhance the game day atmosphere.
The Tailgate is sponsored by Bud Light, NÜTRL Vodka Seltzer, Cutwater Spirits, 1800 Tequila, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, and more to be announced.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.