When it comes to neighborhood bars, the island offers an eclectic cocktail of comfortable places to gather. Whether you’re looking for a bustling, bright patio or a quiet, dark place to enjoy a brew or adult beverage, the island has you covered. Here are just a few favorite haunts to slake your thirst.
Hard Times and Misery Saloon
4302 Ave. S, 409-770-9887
With budget friendly pricing, including the $2 wells, Hard Times and Misery Saloon is the default destination of the service industry.
Glenda Dupré, veteran bartender of nine years, reinforces the friendly vibe by offering what she calls “biker parking.” It’s not unusual to see a dozen customer bicycles parked inside the bar. But you won’t see any pets, food or credit card machines — cash only.
Jack’s Pub on Postoffice
2406 Postoffice St., 409-539-5595
What you might not know about this downtown bar is that Jack Haire plates up some serious fried catfish and pizza. He oversees a surprisingly competent kitchen. Yes, the vintage Gandy pool table is free, the jukebox is always playing, and Haire is still sitting at the end of the bar.
In 1994, Haire sold his telemarketing and cable TV businesses and “retired.” He tended bar at the Hilton Hotel for awhile before opening his own place, called Jack’s Market Street Tavern. In 2009, he moved it to Postoffice Street; hence the new name.
418 21st St., 409-763-6415
The back story of Rosie’s Bar is its owner, Rosita “Rosie” Calibuso. She’s a self-made woman who moved here from the Philippines in 1980. Her first venture was East House Restaurant, where Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe now stands. She opened Rosie’s Bar in 1994 and bought the building in 1997. Today, Rosie’s Bar is one of downtown’s favorite holes-in-the-wall. Why? Because of Calibuso, who is big-hearted and generous.
The building was built in 1894 and once served as the old entrance to The Grand 1894 Opera House. Loyal bartender Lindsey will mix you a highball or grab you a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. But the bar doesn’t sell draft beer. Stop by any night and you’ll likely run into someone you know.
Smooth Tony’s Patio & Grill
415 Ninth St., 409-765-5200
Tony Gonzalez is the creative designer behind this circa 1890 East End property that has evolved from a barber shop (1944-84), to a smoothie bar (1997) to a popular music venue. The whimsical décor and plush landscaping in the shaded backyard patio is unique to the island; something more akin to a French Quarter courtyard.
Gonzalez was born only a block away at the University of Texas Medical Branch and credits his business success to support from his huge family and loyal employees. His clientele, like his wine list, is upscale, the patio is relaxing, and his brother Willy’s band, The Line Up, is a crowd favorite. And, this place does draw a nice crowd.
The Stork Club
2101 Postoffice St., 409-750-9136
If the TV show “Cheers” needed a Galveston outpost, it would be The Stork Club. The horseshoe-shaped bar makes conversation easy and the effervescent bartenders keep the old regulars coming back. Plus, the sidewalk tables and big windows provide a convenient vantage point for people-watching on this busy downtown intersection. Guy Taylor Jr. owns the bar. His father, Guy Taylor Sr., owns the building and is a proud, 81-year-old, former U.S. Marine Corps infantryman, who lives above his turquoise landmark and plays ceremonial “Taps” from the balcony at dusk.
The building was built in 1876 as a bar and restaurant, but no name was recorded, the elder Taylor said. The ornate pressed tin ceiling still hangs. A century later, in 1976, Taylor bought the building after selling his oil services company, which inspected Russian oil platforms. The Stork Club is known for its food. Tip: Try the boudin balls and chicken-fried steak.
Crazy Oaks Bar
12410 Stewart Road, 409-632-0026
How could you not like a bar that sponsors a Bunny Roast for the Galveston Island Humane Society? They like dogs here. In fact, the house dogs have free reign of the place.
The history of this West End institution is intriguing — it’s a bar with seesaws, horseshoe pits, turkey shoots, dead oak trees and a stripper pole. And it’s one worth exploring for yourself.
Island Pier Club
1702 Ave. O, 409-443-5114
The name, Island Pier Club, dates back to 1945 when this old bookie joint was owned by the Everts Boys. That was Steve Everts’ grandfather. Steve Everts, Brian Lepo and partners in February opened the new and improved Island Pier Club, with the goal of making it an old style neighborhood bar. They’ve succeeded. They brought back the old name, kept the original back bar, refinished the wood bar top and installed additional ductwork for the air conditioning. Then they made Happy Hour six hours long — from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays.