It seems any tried-and-true Texan can find comfort within the confines of Kay’s Lounge on Bissonnet. Character is oozing from the walls, dripping from the ceiling and spilling out the front door in an ageless stream of beer ads, handmade signs, ticket stubs, sports jerseys, photos and other various ephemera.
There’s a particular brand of charm that breeds in a watering hole like Kay’s. The hominess of the neon sign’s soft glow. Maybe the sight of the large Texas-shaped table that dominates the main room — an item that’s guaranteed to come up in any discussion about Kay’s.
Wherever it originates, that down-home feeling turns what is actually a spacious bar into something that feels more like a living room. It seems like the place hasn’t changed all that much in recent decades, just collected more stuff. Kay’s claims to be one of Houston’s oldest watering holes, with the building records showing that it dates to 1944.
One thing that has changed in recent years is the available libations. The tap selection, which boasts a few dozen beers, has come to include a significant portion from Texas craft breweries. And while some older reports list Kay’s as a beer-and-wine-only dive, the bar started serving up liquor in 2007.
The spacious front patio sports a dozen tables, highly coveted spots when the weather warms up. Televisions dot the walls, with a few giant screens making the space perfect for watching sports. Two smaller back rooms boast pool and darts, more televisions and an additional well for when the crowd swells. The jukebox has been upgraded to an Internet edition, but that shouldn’t stop patrons from slapping on some proper country music. Anything else would feel improper and might earn some sideways glances from the regulars.
But don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with regulars. They are a welcoming bunch who just might buy the first round.
Marc Brubaker is a freelance writer.
Hours: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays; 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays