Houston's 10 Best British Pubs: Close Your Eyes and Think of England
You'll notice several things upon entering a British pub for the first time, especially if your only pub experiences to date have been in the States: The pubs are clean, bright and welcoming. The food is usually quite good. And pubs are family-friendly places -- for the most part -- which makes sense, as "pub" is short for "public house." The whole village should feel welcome at a pub.
Pubs are places where anyone can go, grab a chair and possibly a pint and feel right at home. You can watch TV, catch up with friends, eat a filling meal and come in from the dreary weather like we're experiencing this week. While it's not quite as cold as an English winter (I'll tell you some time about vacationing in northern England in early February), the drizzly weather this week has made me think fondly of the British pubs I enjoyed across the pond.
Not all pubs are created equal, however. Most Texas pubs are more "bars" than "public houses," but the ones on this list are as close as you'll get to the real thing.
Photo by Abrahan Garza
Olde City Pub, not for being terribly authentic, but for being supremely welcoming to all comers -- even smokers, as it's outside the Houston city limits -- and for offering a dozen different nooks and crannies to cozy yourself into while you tuck into a plate of fish and chips from the huge menu.
10. The Stag's Head
The food and service have slipped a bit here in recent years, but The Stag's Head is still my favorite place to hear an impromptu bagpipe solo at sunset. The massive central bar reminds me a bit of theater in the round, but it means you can always find an open seat and get a classic on draft whether it's Boddington's, Fullers or Newky Brown. The food menu offers a decent cottage pie and the option to add "real" Heinz baked beans to anything you order.
Clear Lake and Seabrook have dozens of great seaside bars, but it's Boondoggle's Pub I find myself frequenting most often down south. It may not offer the great views of other Clear Lake watering holes, but this one has the advantage of looking and feeling like an authentic English pub in its own, odd way. It also has the advantage of offering some truly tasty food, like pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven -- a damn sight better than the Totino's-style pizza rolls offered by most bars.
The jukebox at Hans' Biergarten used to be stocked with the best British music in town, featuring everything from the Stone Roses to Simply Red. These days, the old-school jukebox at The Ginger Man has taken its place, but it also features plenty of local Houston bands too. The massive beer list only offers a few British libations, however, and the food menu plays it pretty down the middle. The real draws here are the dark, cozy quarters and inviting patio.