Houston Nightspots 1980-1986

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of traffic coming to read my article called “A Look Back at Gilley’s 1980.”

Here are some of the other bars I remember from the early 80s in Houston. Those were great days. If you were there, you’ll recall some of them.  I’ll add to the list as they come to mind. (though some I can’t remember their names).

Any places you recall and want to share, send to   -> wpmfla at gmail.

Todd’s – Richmond Avenue area. Had the feel of a neighborhood bar, usually a good crowd, polite, well-to-do, and above all looking for love. Todds was one of the best meet markets on the Southwest Side. The dancing was full throttle by 5 pm. For the less energetic, there was backgammon.

Shanghai Red’s – Red-hot happy hour with dancing and a free buffet, all with a great view right on the Ship Channel. Disadvantaged locals ate for free and left, like a community service.

San Antone Rose – Cold longnecks, mixed crowd with C/W and Top 40, a little for everyone. On San Felipe, West Side. The Rose had a free happy hour buffet too. Their tamales were delicious, but smelly.

Cowboys – A crowded sort of upscale C/W bar. I think it was on Westheimer or Richmond, out west. I was there when a fight broke out. A friend of mine got clobbered.

Spats – A high-end bar and dance place in an office plaza near the Galleria. You had to know where it was. Beautiful people, heavy druggy amorous glamorous and booze-soaked. A paragon of disco’s.

Munchies – an artsy ice-house on Bissonett near Rice with string quartet music and mimes. There was another great ice-house closer to Bellaire but I can’t recall its name.

Yesterday Once More – best I remember it was located in South Houston. Lots of line dancing in an atmosphere of mostly Carpenter tunes ranging from the romantic to the morose. The place had a separate “Mood Room” with glass partitions and couches.

Chaucer’s – an Arts Museum area bar on Bissonett and Montrose in the basement of the old Plaza Hotel. My favorite after-work hangout. I was fond of Vivian the bartender. She’d have a Johnny Walker Black and water ready before I got down the stairs. One night, overindulged, I slept alone in the hotel’s “crash room.”

Marfreless – in River Oaks, an unmarked and eclectic bar for couples. Superb ambience, great mixologists behind the bar. Marf’s had sofas and curtained nooks, a great place for lovers.

Sillouhette Lounge – a cozy neighborhood nudie club on the unfashionable side of Bellaire Blvd.  Friendly, non-threatening. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Rockefellers – in the Heights, an old bank turned into a mini concert hall with big name shows and retro nightclub tables. I went on invitation from friends who were gay.  Those guys were always tuned in to the trendier places in town.

Cooters – I think that was the name, anyway. A large dance club and saloon on the opposite end of the shopping plaza from Todd’s, on Richmond Avenue.  Had the reputation of over-served customers. Some of the baseball Astros drank there. Some of the visiting rival Mets were arrested there.

Shamrock Hilton – The hottest place in town on March 17th. Great ballroom drunken mix. Lots of random kissing. One eventually learned to book a room far in advance.