When the Marquis II moved to its current location, it took over a gentlemen's club called the Bunny Club. This painting was found beneath the dry wall during the remodel. (Photo by Kelly Schafler)
A statue of a monkey holds a bowl of condoms and Poison Girl matchbooks.
An assortment of liquors are available at Under the Volcano (Photos by Kelly Schafler).
Wall of masks at Under the Volcano.
The Marquis II before the evening pops.
This is a piano bought from David Koresh, an American religious cult leader, by Marquis II co-owners Trudy and Rosemary. Bartender of Marquis II for 18 years Al said, that at the time of purchase, Koresh had not yet been made in infamy. (Photo by Kelly Schafler)
Sunny's son, 24-year-old Zack Chitty, works with his mother at Sunny's Bar in downtown.
A large wall at Sunny's is dedicated to bumper stickers.
The emblem of VooDoo Queen in the Second Ward.
Covered windows to protect the bar during repairs after the fire.
Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge on Montrose; beware of towing, parking spaces are difficult to find.
Velvet paintings hang on the pink walls of Poison Girl.
It’s hard to stay away from a good dive bar. The charm is in the dim lighting, the slightly unsteady chairs, and the walls adorned with unique tchotchkes. While the term “dive bar” used to conjure up a more negative connotation (and in some corners still does), dive bars are becoming more and more celebrated. For good reason.
Dive bars are the neighborhood bars, the good ol’ bars that understand what drinkers really want (and deliver it), the comfortable hangs. Houston’s best dive bars are upping their game with more creative happy hours.
After all, it’s not a true dive bar if you can’t drink cheap. Here’s a look at some of the top dive bars around the city — and what they’re offering now.
Address: 2631 Bissonnet St
Happy Hours: Mondays thru Fridays from 2 to 8 p.m.
The Marquis II, fondly referred to as “m ²,” has been around since 1945 in various locations, finally settling into West University. While this bar has been renovated in recent years and become more modern, it still holds onto that dive bar vibe.
A lot of college students can be found at this neighborhood bar, but don’t let that be a deterrent. Weekdays, patrons can grab ice-cold Texas bottled beers for $3 — and Texas draft beers and Texas spirits for $4. But let’s not focus on the weekly happy hours.
The real star is LITT Tuesdays (aka. Long Island Texas Tea Tuesdays). So your Tuesdays can be lit. Marquis II offers 20 different flavors of 23-ounce sweet Long Island Iced Teas for only $8. But guests are only allowed three of these bad boys, so drink responsibly.
Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge
Address: 1641 Westheimer Road Suite B
Happy Hours: Everyday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge’s walls are pink and covered with velvet paintings of scantily clad women (they’re tastefully done!). A glass jar with a large baby doll head submerged in water sits on top of the bar, and novelty characters can be found tucked into nooks and crannies. Hey, a dive bar needs character.
The bar is snuggled into the heart of Montrose, and it offers an array of specialty cocktails daily — with more 400 Texas whiskeys on hand. However, from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday thru Sunday, well liquor is only $2 and draft beers are $3.
Take your happy hour drink and follow the wall of old-school pinball machines to the outdoor garden. Keep cool by relaxing in front of the fans outside, where a large purple Kool-Aid sculpture with metal teeth sits coolly in the corner.
Moon Tower Inn
Address: 3004 Canal St
Happy Hours: Mondays thru Thursday from open till close.
Moon Tower Inn is already practically a storied Houston staple. This dive bar and beer garden stands out because it offers a diverse selection of unique meals and 66 beers on tap. The happy hour drink specials aren’t intricate — buy a $10 mug of beer ranging from 22 to 25 ounces, keep the mug, bring it back, and get $5 refills on Mondays — but the feel-good food specials are shining stars.
On Tuesday nights, you can enjoy $5 hot dogs, like the Elk Hotdog featured in the photo above, while the movies play. On Wednesdays, buy one of Moon Tower’s half-pound burgers and get a second free. And on Thursdays after 6 p.m., $15 will get you a one-pound ribeye steak and a loaded baked potato.
Under the Volcano
Address: 2349 Bissonnet Street
Happy Hours: Mondays thru Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m.; Fridays thru Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m.
Right down the street from the Marquis II is Under the Volcano. This neighborhood bar rocks an Dia de los Muertos theme, with Mexican masks on the walls and a skeleton decor. The lighting is dim and intimate — and there’s a stage for live performances. Until 7 p.m. on weekdays, patrons can get $1 off all draft beers and liquor drinks.
Additionally, Under the Volcano also has weekly specials where the bar picks one beer, one cocktail, one type of wine, and one food item that are all an additional $1 off. So if you come during happy hour and pick the drink of the week, you’ll get a $2 discount.
Try the Green on Red — silver and vanilla rum, muddled red bell pepper, basil, grapefruit and lime juice, and simple syrup. It’s refreshing and spicy.
Address: 902 Capitol Street
Happy Hours: All the time
Can one refer to itself as offering happy hour specials if the specials never end? Well, Sunny’s Bar in downtown pays no attention to what the crowd is doing.
Daily, Sunny’s Bar offers $1 Jell-O shots, 25 cent pineapple bites soaked in Diesel Vodka, $5 fruity frozen Smirnoff beverages, and buckets of beer — $15 for domestic beers, $18 for mixed, and $20 for import. This dive bar is owned and operated by Sunny West and her son, Zack Chitty.
Follow the neon arrow, past the wall of humorous stickers, to the back of the bar to find pool tables and foosball. You’ll find people from all walks of life hanging out, from corporate businessmen to college students. Basically, no matter who you are, you’ll probably feel comfortable at Sunny’s Bar.
Dive Bar Under Construction
Address: 322 Milby St
Happy Hours To Be: Mondays thru Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m.; Daily specials
If a mural of an enchantress woman holding a rooster near a bubbling cauldron in the middle of a swamp doesn’t scream dive bar — nothing does. This Second Ward bar offers weekday happy hour specials, such as $2 wells liquor and $1 off draft beer from 4 to 8 pm. Voodoo Queen also brings daily specials, click here to see them.
However, this New-Orleans-style bar suffered an electrical fire approximately a month ago, which caused large amounts of smoke damage and shut it down. For now. Don’t fret, though. Brandon Young, co-owner of Voodoo Queen and Moon Tower Inn, promises there will be “big surprises” upon the bar’s expected reopening at the end of February.
Have any favorite Houston dive bars that offer stellar happy hours? Let us know in the comments.