Houston's 10 Best British Pubs: Close Your Eyes and Think of England

Categories: Bar Beat, Top 10

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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.

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Photo by Abrahan Garza
Honorable mention:

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.

9. Boondoggles

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.

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8. The Ginger Man

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.

Location Info

Map

Olde City Pub & Grill

14124 Steubner Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Stag's Head

2128 Portsmouth, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Boondoggle's Pub & Pizzeria

4106 Nasa Road One, Seabrook, TX

Category: Music

The Ginger Man Pub

5607 Morningside, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Kelvin Arms

2424 Dunstan, Houston, TX

Category: Music

King's Head Pub

1809 Eldridge Pkwy, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Richmond Arms

5920 Richmond, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Black Labrador Pub

4100 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Bull & Bear Tavern

11980 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen

2712 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Red Lion Pub

2316 S. Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Music


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29 comments
OffBeet
OffBeet

Don't disagree with Red Lion as #1. However, was Rudyards considered. Probably my favorite pub in Houston. I've always felt welcome there and enjoy the darts.

OffBeet
OffBeet

Don't disagree with Red Lion as #1. However, was Rudyards considered. Probably my favorite pub in Houston. I've always felt welcome there and enjoy the darts.

SurfOpie
SurfOpie

The Bayview Duck a little ways away in Kemah is a fun British Pub to check out, always super clean taps and friendly folks.

Dave Mackie
Dave Mackie

I strongly disagree with the comments made about the Stags Head “food and service have slipped a bit here in recent years”. I am British and have lived in Houston for 5 years visiting the Stags Head, amongst other British pubs on a regular basis within this timeframe. You obviously haven’t been to the Stag Head in the past 2 years as the quality of the service has vastly improved under new management and they have an extensive beer list consisting of British and European classics as well as many US and local Texas craft beers (which I know all of my British friends bloody love!). The pub food is of a high standard, with they’re Beer Battered Fish & Chips being up there with the best in Houston in my opinion. The Stags Head is one of few places where you can watch the English Premier league soccer with a good atmosphere and they currently show the Rugby six nations games at the weekend offering drinks specials. Furthermore, the Stags head is a strong supporter of the local Houston music scene and hosts talented local musicians to play in an “open mic” environment once a month on a Thursday night offering $3 Texas Drafts and creating a pleasant ambience for having a few pints. I don’t deny that there are some good British pubs on your list but the Stags head is my favourite and should be much higher up for its excellent blend of British style and local Texas delights. Cheers

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Somewhat surprised that Mucky Duck isn't on here.

dngo02
dngo02

I think Firkin and Phoenix is a great British Pub too!

Carlitos Way
Carlitos Way

Used to love Stag's Head a lot. Haven't been there in a couple of years now. Red Lion has probably best Chicken Tikki Masala in town.

Anse
Anse

The only pub I've visited in this town that in any way resembles an actual pub one might find in Dublin or Edinburgh or London (at least one that caters to locals and not tourists) is McElroy's, across the street from the Stag's Head.

tinyhands
tinyhands

Black Lab #4? Have you eaten there recently? The place is under new (Hispanic) management and all the food comes out of the microwave. It's now as British as MacDonald's.

kagan
kagan

London Sizzler ...well sorta

iprod
iprod

fooite = aussie rules

FRL713
FRL713

No love for Ron's?

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

The Winchester, the cowboy-themed pub in "Shaun of the Dead," is what I think of when I think pub in Houston, especially after "experiencing" two of the joints on this list. While I'm no fan of bars in general, I would rather kill an evening swatting mosquitos at a Telephone Road icehouse drinking High Life and eating Fritos.  

Rocketman
Rocketman

I miss the Ale House on West Alabama near Kirby.  I hope the ghosts that inhabited the attic of that building found somewhere else to haunt after it was razed in 2001.

mackiedj
mackiedj

@FattyFatBastard becasue the Mucky Duck is an Irish pub not British

kagan
kagan

@FattyFatBastard  Yeah, right, because Rusty and Theresa have such a wonderful welcoming presence. Yikes

iprod
iprod

@Anse absolutely! however, it may not make this list b/c it doesn't serve food, but strictly as a bar, it's amazingly superior to pretty much everything on his list.

Anse
Anse

I ate there not long ago. Aside from an overabundance of cheese, I thought the fish pie was okay. And don't get so own on the Hispanics. Truth be told they are probably cooking 90% of the restaurant meals in this city.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@kagan You know, I honestly considered London Sizzler for the list. But it's really more of a restaurant first, though they do love a good pint and some cricket.

mern721
mern721

@Rocketman that was our go to pub also! I miss our lazy afternoon dart matches and their fish & chips couldn't be beat.....mushy peas included!

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@iprod @Anse Yep! If McElroy's served food, it'd be on here. I do like that place a lot, although I haven't been in a few years.

tinyhands
tinyhands

@Anse Whoa there with the race card. I'm not getting down on Hispanics, I'm down on non-British owners/management of a so-called British pub continuing to try to pass itself off as British. Last time I checked, no self-respecting fish & chip would come with seasoned fries. Frozen seasoned fries, no less.


If the average Houstonian (people who like Luther's BBQ and anything by Tilman Fertita) can't tell the difference, more power to 'em, I guess.

Anse
Anse

I wish the guys at Feast had opened a real-deal pub instead of a restaurant. I like the restaurant but I think I would have wandered in there more often if they'd had a proper bar. And they'd have made real British pub food that would have put these other joints to shame.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

I don't have a case. You have a bias your weak argument cannot support. If you want English pub food in an English-owned pub, consider England. In Houston, the restauranteurs are from around the world and the kitchen staff (as @Anse said 90%) are from Puebla.

Anse
Anse

Dude, you are apparently under the delusion that our ethnic-specific restaurants are owned and operated by members of the ethnicity in question. That maybe true in many cases. But it's also true that a ton of our sushi restaurants are owned by Chinese and Koreans. We've got a chain of supposedly Peruvian fast food joints that are owned by a guy from Mexico. We've got Mexican-owned Italian restaurants, and I believe Katherine has written about a chef with a Middle Eastern background who cooks some great Italian food, too. We've got Chinese restaurants that are owned by Vietnamese, who are also known for cooking good Cajun seafood. And in all of their kitchens, there's a good chance you'll find at least one Latino, and probably several. So while we may rightfully assume that a sushi chef from Japan is probably superior to one from the Phillippines, it would be a waste of time to wish for such consistency across the board. And for my part, I like seasoned fried potatoes. Plain English chips need a ton of malt vinegar and salt to taste like anything.

tinyhands
tinyhands

@MadMac I've been to Pappas BBQ; You're not helping your case. Anyway, I was referring to two separate yet equally mediocre chains. I resign my position and free you to cram whatever slop you wish into your pie hole.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Luther's is now a Pappas family joint. Check your generalizations.

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