Restaurants / Bars

The Heights Gets a New Dive Bar Like No Other — EZ’s Liquor Lounge Channels the Best Of Those Classic No-Frills Favorites

An Everyday Neighborhood Bar From Some of the Bayou City's Top Restaurant Minds

BY // 10.27.22
photography Mikah Danae

How do you define a dive bar? I’m betting you’d likely know it when you see it. They’re often rundown-looking neighborhood joints, dark with only the dimmest of lighting (the better to hide the dated decor — think red Naugahyde, neon beer signs, cinderblock walls), with cheap drinks and a loyal local following. But they can be a heck of a lot of fun.

Todd Dayton, author of San Francisco’s Best Dive Bars, Drinking and Diving in the City by the Bay, says the authentic bars he considers divey have “The holy trinity: cheap prices, a strong pour and no-frills atmosphere.”

All of which begs the question, can you create a dive bar, or do they evolve to become one? Well, it seems the guys at Agricole Hospitality have an unabashed love for those cool old dive bars. Many of which unfortunately shuttered as the result of COVID. But Agricole has just opened its own Houston neighborhood joint with dive bar visions called EZ’s Liquor Lounge.

You’ll find it in The Heights at 3302 White Oak Drive, just next door to the hospitality group’s hugely popular Italian restaurant Coltivare. EZ’s Liquor Lounge is homage to those bars so many of us fondly recall. Co-owned by Matt Tanner, Morgan Weber, Ryan Pera and Vincent Huynh, EZ’s sits in a vintage 1950s era building that possesses all the decorative elements you’d find in any place that evolved to become a real deal dive bar.

EZ’s Liquor Lounge Hillbilly Highball (Photo by Mikah Danae)
EZ’s Liquor Lounge features an array of drinks including this riff on the highball called the Hillbilly Highball. It’s made with peanut butter bourbon, Mexican coke and peanuts. (Photo by Mikah Danae)

Inside, you’ll discover prized pieces like Alice’s Tall Texan figurine from the legendary, now-shuttered Heights bar and a self-serve water tap for customers made from a vintage 1950s era refrigerator passed down from Matt Tanner’s uncle. That 1950s fridge kept beers ice cold for almost 70 years, first in a bar in Galveston and later in a construction warehouse.

“When we set out to open our version of a neighborhood bar, we knew we wanted it to be a place that people want to hang out day or night, with something for everyone,” Tanner says. “Our hope is for EZ’s to be that go-to, comfortable place where you come to watch sports, play games and be with friends.”

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EZ’s Liquor Lounge Exterior (Photo by Mikah Danae)
A view from outside the new EZ’s Liquor Lounge in the Houston Heights. (Photo by Mikah Danae)

The drinks compiled by Tanner include the classics. From a signature margarita to a freezer martini and quirky tinctures like the hillbilly highball made with salted peanut butter bourbon, Mexican coke and peanuts. While EZ Liquor Lounge’s old fashioned cocktail takes on a creamy, caramel flavor with the addition of dulce de leche.

Hungry? EZ’s bar snacks are a bit more elaborate than a bowl of peanuts or pretzels. Leave it to Ryan Pera to level it up at his place with shareable eats like the Caliente dog. This is no ordinary frankfurter. It’s made with RC Ranch Wagyu and topped with jalapeno cheese, onion and habanero honey mustard. And that cold beer will go great with EZ Liquor Lounge’s “customizable” chili pies. Pick between a wild boar con carne or a golden veggie chili.

EZ’s Liquor Lounge is open Mondays through Fridays from 2 pm to 2 am and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 2 am.

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