MainStay Suites Texas Medical Center/Reliant Park
3134 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, TX 77054
Phone: (832) 201-3131
Fax: (832) 200-2750
Bars & Cafes
Park in the visitors lot, entrance 22 and head over to the basement of the chemistry building on Rice University campus for a respectable selection of beer, wine and cider. Run for and by grad students (and alum) keeps the prices low—dollar 12-oz beers on tap or bottled! As a non-profit, you may find yourself getting more "change" back than you paid. The laidback crowd is happy to chat, play some chess, or leave you to your own deep thoughts. On warmer evenings, enjoy your beer out on the lawn. Candy, chips, and sandwiches available. - JoAnn Takasaki
Olive Garden serves up authentic Italian cuisine. Their signature breadsticks and one-of-a-kind menu make them an American icon. Standard Italian options like bruchetta, calamari, ravioli, and eggplant parmigiana line their lengthy menu. More exotic items like salmon, chicken dishes, and innovative pizzas are also available. For the calorie-counter, Olive Garden has a range of low fat and low carbohydrate options. Their bottomless salads ensure a well-balanced feast. Enjoy your meal with a bottle from their extensive wine list or one of their tropical island drinks. Finally, top it all off with a little something from their dessert menu- their cakes, custards, and ice creams are sure to win you over. Lunch and take out menus are available.
The museum crowd treats this popular eatery as a "see and be-seen" establishment. The sleek, nouveau decor and soft classical music provide the perfect degree of sophistication without crossing into the 'stuffy' realm. Expect to enjoy a classy dining experience with exceptional, non-invasive service. Equally sophisticated, the menu features spiced-up versions of many traditional Chinese favorites. Try the Asian vermicelli with one of several spicy meat or seafood options. Beer and wine are plentiful, but a full bar is not available.
It was a dark & stormy cocktail…or maybe it was the St. George Absinthe. Regardless, this hard-to-find neighborhood lounge has some of the most interesting drinks in Houston. Not to mention a fantastic menu which includes incomparable mini-pizzas (there's not a bad one in the bunch named after 19th century painters). Don't let the seedy strip center and medieval wood doors deter—go right on in, let the eyes adjust to the dark, and belly-up to the friendly bartenders who know their drink and food. Wednesday is Bring Your Own CD or iPod night—and they're not shy about cranking it up. - JoAnn Takasaki
The Ginger Man is the perfect spot to catch up with friends over a brew or two. There is a rather expansive beer selection to choose from, with somewhere around 50 beers on tap, with an equal amount of bottled beers to choose from. The walls are adorned with old beer bottles long since consumed, and the place itself smells of beer throughout. There are no mixed drinks here, but for those that love beer, welcome to paradise.
In 1981 this restaurant replaced El Patio, a Mexican original that had been around since 1957. Some of the original decor from the old restaurant can still be found inside. Newcomers dine here daily, but the list of loyal long-time patrons is extensive. The menu offers a diverse mix of Cuban, Mexican and Spanish specialties. Try one of the numerous Spanish seafood dishes, or bring your friends along and share some tapas. If you are a little less adventurous, there is plenty of Tex-Mex to choose from.
On some days, you just want to grab a bowl of hearty soup, a tasty sandwich, or a giant cookie and forget about the world. On those days, head to Ruggles Café Bakery for delectable food at a price that college students will fall in love with. Known citywide for their creative desserts and tasty food, Ruggles offers a cozy atmosphere to meet with friends. They have a kids menu that will delight the little ones in your group. Patrons are invited to bring a bottle of their favorite wine; for no corkage fee, they can enjoy a glass either inside or on a covered patio.
Lively Spanish music fills the air and sets the tone at Mi Luna. The bold colors and fun atmosphere are popular with anyone looking to have a great time with friends. Tables on the patio are the hottest seats in the house when the weather is fair. A menu favorite is the shrimp in lemon-garlic olive oil, but with nearly 50 hot and cold selections to choose from, you are certain to find many more that will please.
The Black Walnut Cafe, located in Rice Village and consistently frequented by nearby university students, focuses more on providing a cafe experience than tasty cafe dishes. The eclectic and expansive menu offers prices to the fourth decimal place and a wide variety of quick dishes, but the main dishes are overshadowed by the desserts and the ambiance. Casual is key here right from the counter ordering to the piped-in jazz music and leisurely dining. Breakfast, served all day, might be the best reason to visit, other than the desserts and friendly atmosphere.
Located in the eclectic and trendy Montrose area, this former restaurant-turned-coffee house has been transformed into a popular nightspot. Serving up fine drinks and liquors, as well as offering fine cigars, the establishment attracts young and older patrons alike. The small gray bar is designed and decorated with a jungle theme. Comfortable leather sofas offer locations for patrons to hang out and enjoy their drink or puff on their favorite cigar. The crowd usually gets bustling towards the end of the week. A variety of music styles blares overhead.
The two video walls and 20 televisions appeal to far more than sports fans. Step into an interesting environment, complete with a fantastic fiber optics light display, that is constantly changing. Guests enjoy scrumptious homemade hamburgers and beer along with wonderful brick-oven pizza.
Salento is a wonderful Latin American café/wine bar combo in the heart of the pleasant Rice Village. Their coffee is some of the best in the city, with well-trained baristas manning the steamer. The wine list includes several gems from South America, with great happy hour discounts. Get a window seat along the front wall and people-watch while listening to their mix of mostly underground music. Order a chicken empanada - the best snack in the city!