The West Alabama Ice House

New clubs and bars open in Houston every month. Each one comes up with a new theme, a menu of $14 drinks and lofty appetizers, and hopes for the best. Some of them make it. Most of them don’t. At least not for eighty years, like the treasured West Alabama Ice House.

The Ice House’s longevity and success are based on simplicity. Cold beer, cheap eats, and good company. A shabby structure, picnic tables covered by tarps and oaks, rusty fans blowing mist. It’s kept them in business since 1928 with no sign of surrender. Any night of the week, whether it’s Wednesday or Saturday, January or July, the Ice House never wants for a crowd. Bikers park their choppers between the planters and yuppies sweat through their dress shirts while drinking long necks. Something about the place is effortless and genuine.

And folks seem to like that because they keep coming back, day after day, generations after generations. Other establishments crave the Ice House’s universal appeal. But how can you compete with street meat served from a rickety taco truck instead of bacon-wrapped figs? Lone Star instead of pomegranate martinis? Open air and night sky instead of air-conditioned luxury? You can’t. You just can’t.

The enduring legacy of one of the last Texas ice houses proves that Houston is a culture of quality over quantity as well as tradition and loyalty. At the end of a long day, we want to be with great friends in a comfortable, familiar setting. You know, we want to go where everybody knows our names, that kind of thing. If you aren’t a regular already, you’re bound to become after just one visit.

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