Houston Nightlife: The Best Bars Near Market Square in Downtown

Photo courtesy of One Armed Scissor

Houston comes alive at night, with dives, cocktail bars, and nightclubs dotting the city. In our Houston Nightlife: Best Bars, we’ll cover the best night owl watering holes in each neighborhood.

The Market Square Historic District is the heart and soul of Downtown, even making its way to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Anchored by Market Square Park and some of the oldest buildings in the city, the walkable area boasts fantastic restaurants, arts and entertainment opportunities, and a stellar lineup of places to grab a drink and get a taste of Houston nightlife.

For the purposes of this list, the Market Square Historic District runs from Texas Avenue to Commerce Street and Louisiana Street to Main Street.

The Best Bars Near Market Square in Downtown

  • La CarafeSitting right across from Market Square Park, this intimate haunt is the oldest bar in Houston, having been built in 1847, and boasts a nice wine selection, cozy atmosphere, and mellow vibe. Click here for directions.
  • OKRA Charity SaloonYou can drink for charity at this ultra-popular bar off Congress Street, where its skylit interior is as gorgeous as its exterior. The saloon donates all of its proceeds to a local charity each month, and each drink you buy will earn you a charitable vote for that month’s winner. Click here for directions.
  • Public Services Wine & Whisky – Located in the historic Houston Cotton Exchange Building on Travis Street, this classy drinkery specializes in an international selection of hard-to-find wines and whiskeys. Cozy up onto a velvet couch and sip some while you nosh on cheeses, charcuterie, and bar snacks curated from Theodore Rex. Click here for directions.
  • The Pastry WarOne of Downtown’s coolest spots is this Main Street mezcaleria from bar master Bobby Heugel, where you’ll find agave spirits from family-owned distilleries in Mexico. Sip your way through the list and try out cocktails from a Mexican-spiced Pimm’s Cup variation to a strawberry-balsamic margarita. Click here for directions.
  • Tongue-Cut SparrowAccessible through a “secret” door and stairwell inside The Pastry War, this high-class drinkery offers a formal cocktail bar experience that goes unrivaled in this city. Reservations can be made for half the bar, with the other half reserved for walk-ins. Click here for directions.
  • Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit LodgeThis second-story haunt is a bit hidden. You’ll find the doorway off Main Street and a creaky staircase that leads up to the cocktail bar and patio, where you can sip expertly crafted drinks and get elevated views of the city. Click here for directions.
  • El Big BadThis margarita bar and kitchen infuses its tequila in-house, with flavors from basil and chili to marshmallow, papaya, and pistachio. Sip margs and tequilas alongside chips and queso, cochinita tacos, and hangover enchiladas. Click here for directions.
  • KanaloaHouston’s tiki scene gained another winner with this Market Square Park tiki and rum bar. Hit the vibrant watering hole to sip Mai Tais, Zombies, and Oaxaca Swizzles. Click here for directions.
  • One Armed ScissorThis cocktail bar offers chalkboard classics from Aperol Spritzes and Moscow Mules to Daquiris, Margaritas and Tom Collins, plus innovative numbers like the Thai Dolla $ign, made with gin, basil, lemon and Crème de Cassis. Click here for directions.
  • Nightingale RoomA sibling establishment to spots like The Pastry War and Anvil Bar & Refuge, this small nightclub and bar offers fresh drinks and an enormous collection of vinyl, plus house music and a poppin’ vibe on the weekends. Click here for directions.
  • Notsuoh Part bar, part eclectic music, art and poetry space, this oddball dive (its name is ‘Houston’ spelled backwards) is Houston at its finest. Find it off Main Street under the old Clark’s sign. Click here for directions.

More Great Bar Options in Market Square Park

Get a taste of nostalgia at Dean’s, Warren’s Inn, and Char Bar; explore the Secret Garden bar at Bravery Chef Hall or get underground beers and wines at Conservatory; sip excellent craft cocktails at Houston Watch Company, The Commoner & The Boulevardier, Little Dipper Bar, and Lilly & Bloom; hit the rooftop at Lawless Kitchen & Spirits and Live Sports Bar & Grill, or grab late-night patio drinks on weekends at Batanga; sip suds at Craft Beer Cellar, Bovine & Barley, Christian’s Tailgate, and Moonshiner’s; channel your inner Irishmen at Shay McElroy’s Irish Pub and Molly’s Pub; hit the dance floor at Etro and Boots ‘n Shoots; and get drinks and a burlesque show at Prohibition.

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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .