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La Carafe - 19 Reviews - 813 Congress St, Houston, TX - Bars, Pubs & Clubs Reviews - Phone (713) 229-9399

La Carafe

813 Congress St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 229-9399
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Bars, Pubs & Clubs

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Food & Dining


La Carafe - Houston, TX
La Carafe - Houston, TX


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This might be my favorite bar anywhere, and I've only been there twice. Once in 1988 and once in 2005. It's old, dark, cramped, and the bathrooms are tiny. But the atmosphere is s...


i am a native Houstonian and have been living in another state for several years. i recently visited Houston and wanted to recall good times spent in La Carafe. boy was I surprise...

what a disappointment! 3/6/2011

i am a native Houstonian and have been living in another state for several years. i recently visited Houston and wanted to recall good times spent in La Carafe. boy was I surprised! the service SUCKED! not sure if it was just that particular bartender, but Southern hospitatliy is lost on this place which is a shame because it was, hands down, my favorite pub in Houston when I lived there 10 years ago. I really hope they can get it together and make this place the gem it once was! more

worst service ever 9/3/2010

I must've gotten the same bartender as the previous post. What a piece of work. I love the decor and history of the place but not worth wading through the snotty, disrespectful wait person. THERE ARE TOO MANY OTHER OPTIONS DOWNTOWN more

Too bad 9/3/2010

Used to be a fun place to hang out. Angry bar tender needs to get an attitude adjustment. Not my idea of a good time to be verbally assaulted by the help. If his life sucks that bad, he shouldn't be in the hospitality industry. The owner should be made aware. I'll never go back more

Best bar in town 1/14/2010

This might be my favorite bar anywhere, and I've only been there twice. Once in 1988 and once in 2005. It's old, dark, cramped, and the bathrooms are tiny. But the atmosphere is such that you could have been in Houston in 1870 and it'd look about the same. The clientele is friendly, service is fast and friendly, and the location is good. Except that I don't live in Houston any more. It's exactly what a bar should be. Pros: Old, dark, fun, perfect atmosphere Cons: I live three hours away more

Best Place to Smoke & Drink 12/16/2009

Said by many to be haunted, La Carafe also got the distinction last year from Houston Press as "The Best Place to Smoke and Drink." But things changed. Blue nosed busy bodies brought draconian measures to bear, and there would be no more smoking. So the Press was excited a few months ago when owner Carolyn Wenglar decided to expand and open a beer garden on the lot next door, which La Carafe also owns. But the bureau-rats dropped their you-know-what in the punch bowl once again. They said that because the city owns the narrow alleyway between the two properties, patrons would not be allowed to carry their beers across that line. It would bring on the Mayan Apocalypse two years early, or at least be a violation of liquor laws in Skip's favorite state, among the silliest renditions of prohibition era nonsense still on the books in this country. "I just don't understand," Wenglar says. "I own both properties. And you'd think they would want the chance to make money off my expanded business." Maybe La Carafe could build an elevated bridge across the moat. Source: Houston Press, v. 21 no. 51, December 17 - 23, 2009 Pros: Tries to accomodate smokers Cons: City of Houston more

The most wonderful experince of my life!!!! 9/2/2009

this place simply rocks anyone says otherwise is a goon who should of stayed home we don't need ya this is my bar!!! more

Service goin downhill fast 4/29/2009

I have been going to la carafe for years, as I was born and riased in Houston. I went last night with my data and a few friends. My buddy arrived there before us and immediately gave us a heads up that the bartender was giving him the cold shoulder. We ordered drinks and my date's friend offered to pay. There was some confusion as to how to pay and keep a tab- i.e. leave cash on the bar etc ... so my date's friend went to the ATM and mentioned that bartender didn't have to be a j*rk about it (which he was speapking in a hostile manner). The bartender must have heard him say he was a j*rk and immediately kicked him out. Two of us have worked in the cullinary industry (the one that got kicked out still does) and the reality is, when you work in the service industry- you should at least try to be nice, good communicator, positive friendly smooth tones. Thats just my opinion. This bartender was far from it. If I go there again and he is there and in the same rude mood, I will not return again. sorry la carafe- based on this and other reviews- you should rethink who you employ. Pros: beautiful interior Cons: Bartender is incredibly unfriendly more

Probably one of the worst experiences at a local bar 1/20/2009

Myself and 20+ friends decided to attend a gathering last night at La Carafe. I arrived early along with 4 other friends. When we asked the bartender if we were allowed upstairs, he rudely told us to "get back behind the line!" when we asked him again, he spouted sentences profusely using the F word. We were very polite and had just arrived and in no way were we by any means drunk or belligerent. We stood there with our mouths open wondering what brought on such non-professional behavior. He then said he was "... just F***ing kidding." But, right after that, he told us to "F***ing lighten up and to order an F***ing drink!" We replied that we were bringing 20 patrons to his establishment tonight, at which point he started to sarcastically tell us how fortunate he must be to have such luck. His closing remark was "Get the F*** out of my F***ing bar!!! Just kidding, guys!" Needless to say, we all left and went across the street to THE RED CAT JAZZ LOUNGE. They were nice. more

I Love La Carafe! 12/30/2008

This is my absolute favorite bar in North America. I am so happy I "came across it" during lunch in 1980. I cannot even fathom how many people I have told about it and/or brought them/met them there. It reminds me of being in New Orleans, but it's all Texas, darlin'. From the eclectic choices on the juke box, excellent: wine, owner, manager, bartenders and patrons. I'm loving it so much, I'm headed there right after work today. Love the Carafe. more

Never seen a ghost, but I have seen some great beers 2/17/2008

They say this place is haunted. I'm not sure if I believe it, but I do know that they have ice-cold beer and cool bartenders. I'd recommend going by yourself if you want to meet some interesting characters. Good for dates and friends -- I'm just saying that it can be more fun that way. more

Friendlist Place in Town 7/25/2007

I was part of the Texas Medical Center crowd that frequented this Bar in the 1980's after a chance discovery of this hidden place by one of us. It is nice to know that it is maintaining its reputation for friendliness. Pros: Very nice Very friendly Very quiet Cons: Just a place to drink and to talk more

a quaint hole-in-the-wall wine bar! 11/20/2006

this is such a pleasant find in the midst of trendy downtown. a hole-in-the-wall feel rightly suits this small space with antiques adorning the walls and bar, giving that cozy and romantic vibe. it's a bit out of place in downtown, but it's a great getaway from the club district debaucheries. the wine list is decent and surely won't disappoint.* Pros: eclectic, quaint, romantic Cons: location, parking, small more

most unique bar in houston w/ friendliest staff and old world ambience!! 9/21/2006

What a great place! Dank, musty, old, leaning to the side, crazy jumbled decor, wood and glass, candle wax piled high behind the bar. The wine list is quite nice, but I was sad they didn't carry scotch or any hard drinks. I guess the name "La Crafe" makes that clear! However, the whole place is so incredible, I'll be back! The second floor is intimate and cozy. The balcony is nice especially now as the temperature cools down. The crowd was doctors, business people, laywers. The juke box has many old songs from the 40's. We took it over and listened to Billie Holiday, etc, for hours. I wish they served food! It is still perfect, though! more

Best Local bar downtown Houston 8/10/2006

I decided that i should celebrate and go have a glass of wine at this hidden place called LaCarfe, I got there and it has such history,the bartender gavin was soooooooo friendly and nice and i told him i have never tried Wine before can he advise me and he did, if i can remember i had the las verde and it was very sweet and fruity and a very light relaxing taste.Then 3 of the locals came in and we started talking and it was just so nice. I love bars but the daytime bar scene is much better, you see,doctors,judges,lawyers come in there to have a drink so no crazy drunk men there to bother you. The place itself is slanted and they have pictures of long ago and the locals say the place is haunted and they call it the LC, i found out that they have wine tasting once a month on the first thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm. They invited me back and i finally found a place that i can be a regular there.with friendly locals and down to earth bartender how can i not go back. lol and its downtown.The best thing its casual and you dont have to dress up,just jeans and T shirt.Im so happy that i went. With school starting i wont be able to have a night on the town that much.But checking out a bar in the day is perfect for me.La Carafe is my new local hang out. I love LaCarafe. Pros: the winelist, locals, bartender Cons: they dont serve food more

Houston Treasure 8/6/2004

I can truly asseverate without hyperbole that this is one of Houston's true treasures. Do not miss taking the microstairs up to the second floor and balcony, it is quite an experience. If you have not taken your significant other here you are depriving them of one of Houston's most romantic venues. Pros: Incomparable, Inexpensive, Romantic more

Best Bar Ive Been To In Houston 12/7/2003

Ive lived in Houston for about 6 months and Ive tried several spots downtown but my first visit to La Carafe was the best. Like others have said its not a party atmosphere, its very intimate and dark, but there is almost more character to the place than you can handle. The service was excellent. Matt the bartender upstairs was very friendly and knowledgeable about the wine. The value is good and they will split a glass of wine in half if you ask them. They have a great wine selection and good beer if you like, and they only take cash. I cant imagine a better place to take a romantic date after dinner. One of the other incredible things is the jukebox, I think it fits that place to a T. Youve got to try this place. Pros: atmosphere, music, wine list Cons: cash only but it fits more

La Unfrigginbelievable 7/13/2003

Beautiful joint. Good selection of wines. Just plain good times. Not the kinda place you go for loud, fast paced entertainment. No jacked-up investment bankers here! This beer/wine bar is more laid back complemented with about the best jukebox selection I've ever seen. They know their wines but won't snicker even if you order a zinfandel(o.k., maybe they will, but they're laughing WITH you). If I ever have a date, I'll definately take her here. Antiquish class folks, you gotta check it out. Right down to the classic cash register, so remember to hit the ATM first. Pros: Good wine, good folks, good times Cons: cash only more

Good date spot 2/23/2003

La Carafe reminds me of some off-the-beaten-path bars I found in Amsterdam. The mood is the same, too. It's just wine and beer and cash only, but it's great. The Juke box is varied, the bartenders are enthusiastic about the wine without being snooty. The value is good and the place oozes charm. Women swoon inside the place, which is always quiet and intimate. I don't know how they stay in business, because the place is never really crowded -- I'm just glad they do. Pros: charm, good wine, great service Cons: no parking, no credit cards, no liquor more

very cozy n cool 8/16/2002

my boyfriend and i just moved here 3 weeks ago from california---i actually "moved back" here.... so we went there, weve never been there before and we loved it. very cool environment, the bar tender wasnt a jerk and i love the old school building---especially the bathrooms, so tiny and personal, made me feel as though i was living in the olden days. very cool, although i dont agree that its a "romantic" spot, i do think its a good place to hide out by yourself or with a close one to have a few drinks and chat for a while. so yeah, this is going to be our spot! :) Pros: nice setting, intimate, cash only ---yeah!! Cons: limited drink menu more
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  • In Short
    La Carafe is so old (established approximately 130 years ago) that the building is starting to lean. Inside, it's ultra-dark, lit by dim lamps and candles atop a three-foot-tall accumulated pillar of wax. This is the perfect place to take a date: Steal away to the tiny upstairs room or sit at one of the outdoor tables with a view of Market Square. You can't beat the ambience, and the wine selection is enviable.

  • 4/16/2006 Provided by Citysearch

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    Central, Downtown