Better Luck Tomorrow: Houston
544 Yale St at W 6th St, Houston TX
The Place: A cool cocktail bar in The Heights neighborhood of Houston, specifically in a DRY part of the city (I’m not shitting you).
The Time: Friday October 20, 6:30pm. I’m in Houston for two days to see One Year Lease theater company’s world premiere play, Balls (running in Houston until the 29th, but have no fear, it will be in NYC in January!). Before the show, I head to Better Luck Tomorrow for a drink and a bite, recommended to me by a friend who’s never been to Houston, but said “This place looks fun, you should go!” So here I am. Even though I think the name is kinda sad.
The Vibe: You have to drive everywhere in this city, so my cab pulls up to a bar on the corner with a big wraparound patio, so I'm like "cool I guess this is it." Outside there are lots of families, friends, couples, having drinks and sharing food. Inside is smaller and more intimate, a retro feel with a modern twist. Lots of neon lights but in matte colors, so matte lights? I can see my reflection in the metallic bar top. No families inside, just couples, a few small groups of friends. It’s so pleasantly empty for a Friday. No bar in New York at this time on a weekend is this empty. I dig it.
The Bartender: There are like, 4 and they all wear gingham shirts and aprons. The one who looks like he’s straight out of Leave It To Beaver comes over and asks me if I’ve been here before. I say I’ve never even been to this city before and he asks for my ID. Normal, I assume to check my age. Then he hands me a slip of paper for me to fill out my info, and is like “Sorry our system doesn’t like out-of-state IDs." When I say that asking for my drivers license number is an odd way to hit on me, he laughs and explains that this bar is in A DRY PART OF THE CITY. In order to get around this archaic biblical Texan liquor law, they had to register as a Private Club, so I have to give all my info in order to “join the club,” just to get a fucking cocktail. The South is so weird.
The Drank: After all that hoopla, thank god the drink is delicious. I get the Beginner’s Luck, made of rum, watermelon, lemon and amaro. I also get the Southern stew, which is a really yummy bowl of black-eyed-pea chili or something. These two things, the refreshing summery cocktail and the hearty wintery stew, do not go together, but I too am a pile of contradictions.
Was I Hit On? No. Leave It To Beaver was in fact doing his job, not hitting on me. There’s a guy to my left, also reading alone, accompanied by his motorcycle helmet, but we exist in separate worlds. I overhear a woman talking to her date, saying “...and I said no, you can’t talk to women like that!” and I wanna jump in and be like, “Yaaas queen, down with the patriarchy!” Even in a red state, I’m proud to find other women standing up to misogynist men, especially in this era we now find ourselves.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure. If you're in H-town, stop by Better Luck Tomorrow for some chill vibes and a damn good cocktail. Y’all just have to be willing to join the club.
*Additionally!* Also while in Houston, I ate alone at a wonderful restaurant called Underbelly, at 1100 Westheimer Rd in the Montrose neighborhood. Yes, this vegetarian went to a place that primarily serves pork. But I had a ridiculously good veggie curry, and their wine list is insane. I sat at a table, not at the bar, so therefore I am not writing up a formal review because I’d be breaking my own rule. But just so you're all aware, I ordered bread to start and I was served a loaf. Everything’s bigger in Texas.