Houston’s Top 10 Bars

• Apparently my girlfriend’s family has a long history with Big John’s.  They’ve been going there for years and invited me to try it out.  The food was good and came in generous portions.  In fact, the salad was freakishly large.  The place had a real mellow sports-bar feel about it.

• Great west Houston neighborhood bar/icehouse. Friendly knowledgable staff, great patty melt sandwich, and diverse-hip jukebox.  Sunday breakfast with Kitty is stellar. Ask Kitty to make you a bloody Mary and Burke to play some Doors.

• Big John’s is the quintessential after-work watering hole. It’s bare-bones and fit-for-purpose. Wood benches and concrete floors ensure that clean-up is a breeze. It has big screens to watch whatever. The beer flows plentifully and cheaply. Because it’s near the Energy Corridor, much of the clientele are oil folks, but the Harley contingent are equally at home here (of course, these days, they are often one and the same). If you’re wanting to meet and discuss something on the West Side, more often than not, someone will say, “How ’bout we go to Big John’s?”

• I was once a “regular” here.  And what is really cool is I can walk in today, after several years have passed, and still feel like a “regular”.  Come in after work and you will see people from all walks of life – straight from the office and straight off the job site.  But here we all seek one thing – cold beer, unpretentious surroundings, and genuine people.  If you don’t stop by Big John’s when in west Houston, you are definitely missing out.




Restaurant Report Card: Inspectors find rodent droppings, gnats, roaches

Big John’s Ice House, Barnes And Noble Bookstore Café earn perfect inspections

By Bill Spencer – Investigative Reporter


HOUSTON – Rodent droppings, roaches and gnats highlight the most recent Restaurant Report Card in Houston.

Randy’s Smoke House & BBQ in the 15000 block of Old Galveston Road is a popular Clear Lake destination, but health inspectors recently found violations at the restaurant, including rodent droppings and a green block of rat poison in the storage room.

At the original Barnaby’s Café on Fairview, inspectors condemned more than 40 pounds of food found unsafe to eat, including sour cream, cheese and yogurt, all of which were off temperature in a backroom refrigerator.

Inspectors found dried rodent droppings and gnats flying around the kitchen and the bar at Calamari, which opened a few months ago in the 5100 block of Washington Avenue.

“We have fixed that,” the manager of Calamari told Channel 2 this week during a tour of the kitchen and bar areas. “You can come to the kitchen and check … everything is already clean.”

Channel 2 News found the kitchen and bar both as clean as a whistle as employees took the inspectors’ warning to heart.

At Lowbrow in the 1600 block of West Main, inspectors tossed out 26 pounds of chicken wings, salmon and mashed potatoes that were deemed unsafe to eat.

There were no fun and games for inspectors at Dave & Buster’s in the 7600 block of the Katy Freeway, where they found roaches near the dishwasher.

The same problem popped up at La Maytena Bakery in the 8400 block of Long Point, where a dead roach decided to make its final resting place on the kitchen floor.

As for the winners this week, Channel 2 awarded two restaurants an A+ rating. Big John’s Ice House in the 12600 block of Briar Forest and The Barnes And Noble Bookstore Café at 8001 Fulton both earned perfect inspections.

2016 Click2Houston/KPRC2

Houston’s 10 Best Icehouses

Friday, July 31, 2015 | 7 months ago

The historical icehouses in Houston lived up to their name; these were places that sold primarily ice in the days before every household got its own “icebox,” as refrigerators were known back then. Today most of the icehouses in our city still sell ice, though beer sales are now often their primary source of revenue and the major draw for their customers. Icehouses usually have mostly outdoor seating, or seating inside a building with open sliding garage doors; don’t let the summer heat scare you away from visiting the places on our list, though. These places are cooler than you might expect, even during the middle of the day as they provide shade and fans; day drinking on a lazy summer afternoon in a Houston icehouse is something everyone should experience. Do it.

Houston's 10 Best IcehousesEXPAND

Photo by HP Staff

This Energy Corridor spot is big on sports; the bar and its patrons support Houston teams as well as Texas college teams and LSU. As at many other icehouses, the customers at Big John’s tend to be working-class people who drink domestic beers by the bucketful; the food served here, like the guacamole burgers, is above average. Special events throughout the week include a steak night on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays and live bands on Fridays, and there’s never a cover charge. Play some songs from the diverse jukebox selections and/or a game of ping pong with friends when you drop by.  (12640 Briar Forest,


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