I’m new to town, and I like to drink. For reasons I’m not stupid enough to question, 29-95 has decided to pay me (I know!) to bring both of those considerable traits to bear as I explore the city I now call home.
Read about my visit to The Harp.
Read about my visit to The Velvet Melvin.
Read about my visit to Alice's Tall Texan.
Read about my first visit to Alabama Ice House.
This was one of the weirdest nights I’ve had since moving to Houston.
At first I was a little surprised to find I’d be patronizing the Vintage Pub for my column, but I figured their beer would be just as good as anyone else’s, so I saddled up for the drive. But I wasn’t quite prepared for the trek out to what the bartender told me was Jersey Village. It’s out there, kids. And this isn’t the burbs, either. This is the development sprawl, an endless series of huge low flat buildings like CostCo and storage units. It’s a whole other world out there.
The Vintage Pub is in a strip mall, which isn’t by itself a bad thing, though the interior space and location were unsettling. It’s a high-ceilinged place with gray carpet, a “V.I.P.” area that’s just a vaguely partitioned area you can reserve for some reason, and a phalanx of pool tables no one was using when I visited. It looks like a Gatti-Land that turned into a strip club that was then turned into a bar out in the boonies. It’s also outside the city limits, so people were smoking it up, which I’d rather they go outside to do. Damn right I don’t care if it’s cold out. But to make matters worse, on this night, I walked into the middle of a bad short story.
I ambled up to the bar and ordered a drink from a female bartender who eventually introduced herself and who looked all of maybe 23. The long-haired guy next to me was already slurring his words at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday, like winners do. After he told me a short and kind of confusing story about the history of Shiner beer that I didn’t really follow, he resumed his primary task: writing a note/letter to the bartender on bar napkins. At one point he asked me how to spell “babbling,” so I can only guess as to the contents of his letter. When he excused himself and left his chair, I asked her if she actually knew this guy, and I got way more info than I bargained for.
She launched into a story about how he’s a friend of an old friend, and how he walked his tab a few weeks back and is only now paying back part of it, and lost his phone so he can’t text her and is thus writing her a note in an admittedly stalker-like fashion on a napkin. She's only been tending bar there for a short while, too, saying she wanted a more regular job after dealing cards in an all-night poker room. In her words: “I was tired of getting out at 5 a.m. every morning, and everybody doing blow. It was really fucking annoying.” Um, yes?
Wanting to make conversation — and not totally sure the poker thing was legit — I asked her what the story was with the card games, which is when she gave me her number and told me to text her my digits to hang out and see the town and play cards, maybe. Many, many things ran through my mind. First was how happy I am with my girlfriend (hi babe), but right on the heels of that was how this shit never happens to me. At all! You know how often bartenders get hit on? I wasn’t even flirting, and I know that because she didn’t make the wary face girls made when I hit on them in my single days. I just wanted a place to duck inside and get a beer, and instead I got drama and a weird attempted connection and a crazy new friend.
Look, it’s not a terrible place, but one of the things I like to do with this space is recommend places for people to visit, whether it’s a joint you’ve never heard of or a place you haven’t been to in a while. And if you live out near Vintage Pub, sure, stop in and get a brew. But if you live in the city proper — hell, even inside the tollway — there’s no reason to make the trip. So have fun, drunk guy and Vintage Pub bartender and everyone out in the northwest corner of the world. I wish you well in your weird, bizarrely affecting little place. Everybody else: Don’t bother.