The Hay Merchant
     

The Hay Merchant

Houston, Texas

Some people call it a restaurant. And they do serve food. But when you're facing a beer list as well-curated and varied as the one at The Hay Merchant, it's hard to think of anything but drinks. The list boasts five cask selections and dozens of other brews ranging from IPAs to smoked saisons, each of which is served at the proper temperature, with the correct pressure and gas mix, and in the right glassware. Oh, and should you get hungry, the food just happens to be great — Underbelly's run by the same group, after all.

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The Class Room
     

The Class Room

Houston, Texas

We love clever store names, and The Class Room is no exception. Serving notice that this Rice Village shop both A) sells classy wares and B) is available to share its knowledge about style, the moniker does double duty in a smart way. Of course, a name gets you only so far, so it's a good thing the store also features a friendly staff, clean, bright sales floor, and a terrific range of quality goods from brands like Gitman Village, A.P.C., Freshjive, Naked & Famous, and Shwood. Oh, and be sure to watch out for their Whiskey Wednesday events, which give you yet another reason to drop some cash.

Photos: Paolo Sagullo, Ryan Plett
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Double Trouble
     

Double Trouble

Houston, Texas

Let's be honest: in most cases, spending your entire day at a single bar isn't exactly a good idea. But at Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails, it's totally doable. Why, you ask? Simple — at the name suggests, this unique Forth Ward spot functions as a both a coffee shop and a bar, letting you choose between heightened or diminished soberness. With a tastefully decorated interior and great patio, it's an ideal place to pass a few hours.

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Big Kat's Tattoo and Barbershop
     

Big Kat's Tattoo and Barbershop

Houston, Texas

What's better than a shave and a haircut? A shave, haircut, and new tattoo, of course. Big Kat's Tattoo and Barbershop is ready to deliver all three for a complete one-stop makeover if you want — but if you're simply looking to groom your mane and not delving into more ink, they've got you covered there, as well, with knowledgeable barbers that do a great job and don't charge an arm and a leg. The earlier you go, the better — the lines can get a little long in the afternoon — and plus that gives you a perfect excuse to grab a lunchtime beer at one of the nearby bars once your cut is finished.

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Bernie's Burger Bus
     

Bernie's Burger Bus

Houston, Texas

Who said all food trucks have to be based out of actual trucks? Bernie's Burger Bus expands the possibilities of the concept by serving up delicious burgers from the side of a converted school bus. The menu is filled with sandwiches sporting school-inspired names, like The Principal — a classic American burger — The Cheerleader — topped with pepper jack, crispy jalapeños, roasted tomatoes, and jalapeño ranch — and Recess — a TX cheddar grilled cheese on sourdough bread. In addition, the fries are hand-cut, and every burger is made with a custom Black Angus blend and topped with homemade condiments and fresh, locally-baked buns — making you feel a little better when you chow down on the calorie-rich, double-decker "Bully".

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Beer Can House
     

Beer Can House

Houston, Texas

We can think of a lot worse ways to spend our afternoons than drinking beer in the company of our significant others, and apparently that's an opinion shared by the late John Milkovisch. A retired upholsterer, Milkovisch started transforming his humble abode into the Beer Can House in the late '60s. First came the marbles, rocks, and shrapnel he embedded into the concrete and redwood that eventually replaced his yard. Then John moved on to covering the entire house in flattened beer cans — taken from the stockpile he'd saved up by drinking at least a six-pack with his wife every day — adding flourishes like beer can lid garlands hanging from the roof edges that serve as poor man wind chimes and even a mailbox wrapped in beer. And don't worry that the house will be an ode to a single brand — when asked what his favorite was, Milkovisch often answered "Whatever's on special." Happily, the house is now in the loving care of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, and is open to the public.

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Mongoose versus Cobra
     

Mongoose versus Cobra

Houston, Texas

We'll admit it: we'd be tempted to visit Mongoose versus Cobra based on the name alone — but luckily, this Midtown drinkery is far more than a clever moniker. Housed in a reclaimed historic building from 1915, it offers an impressive selection of craft beers from Texas, the US, and beyond, including a strong list of Belgians and even a blonde ale from Estonia. There's also a single irish whiskey on the 42-tap draught list, and a short menu of "groceries" like nuts, pretzels, jerky, hand-cured meats, cheeses, and deli sandwiches.

Photos: VJ Arizpe | the photoshop
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Hugo's
     

Hugo's

Houston, Texas

Restaurants come and go perhaps more than any other business imaginable, so when one's been open for over ten years — awards, of which it has many, aside — you know it's the real deal. Hugo's has been serving up delicious Mexican to hungry Montrose resident from its 1920s-era building since 2002. The vaunted food is comprised of regional Mexican cuisine, encompassing everything from fresh seafood to Oaxacan moles and simple tortillas, with many standouts — including the chorizo-stuffed jalapeño peppers. As you might expect, they also serve up a mean margarita, and offer a huge selection of tequilas and mezcals for those looking for something a little more... straight forward.

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Sloan/Hall
     

Sloan/Hall

Houston, Texas

At first glance, you might be scared away by the women's fashion — but take a closer look and you'll find that Sloan/Hall is quite man-friendly. This unique store offers a number of products suitable for manly endeavors, including quality glass and stoneware, refurbished vintage furniture, high-end grooming and fragrance products, artwork, some accessories, and even the occassional bicycle. Oh, and be sure to keep an eye open for its sister store in San Antonio.

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Eatsie Boys
     

Eatsie Boys

Houston, Texas

What do you do with training from the Culinary Institute of America and experience cooking at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant? You start a Beastie Boys-themed food truck, of course. The Eatsie Boys serve up awesome eats like the No Sleep 'Til Philly steak sandwich, Pork Revere platter, and Da Bomb baguette from their Intergalactic Food Truck, and now serve an expanded menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soups, and Frozen Awesome ice cream from their standalone Cafe on Montrose. Coming soon to crash a (bouncy) house party near you.

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Leopard Lounge
     

Leopard Lounge

Houston, Texas

Whether you're looking for rocker wear or something to wear to the local honky-tonk, Leopard Lounge has you covered. This vintage store offers a dizzying array of classic fashions, including an overload of band apparel, plenty of western-style button-ups, and a full range of jackets, boots, and accessories. Even if you're not planning on buying thing, it's worth a trip just to browse, but be warned — odds are you'll find something that'll have you reaching for your wallet.

Photos: Sameer Sha
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Underbelly
     

Underbelly

Houston, Texas

There are tons of great restaurants in Houston — but if you're trying to understand this vibrant culinary scene over a short visit, a stop at Underbelly needs to be on your agenda. Helmed by chef Chris Shepherd — a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef in the Southwest — this unassuming spot is home to an extraordinarily varied menu based on current offerings from pruveyors, farmers, and the local area, resulting in dishes like biscuits and gravy sharing the menu with crispy pork schnitzel and wagyu steak frites. Oh, and the place also serves as a retail wine shop, so you can expect a great selection of vino and beer to go with whatever food you choose.

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