By Ashley Strehle Hartman/World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, March, 8, 2018
Houston’s Lounge in La Vista is for grown-ups. This 21-and-over establishment is not a sports bar — it’s a place for drinks. Period.
The lounge, located in a strip mall not far from Interstate 80, is nondescript on the outside, but surprisingly upscale on the inside.
Houston’s is spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of seating around round tables. Lighting is low and music is low-key. Bold, modern art lines the walls and funky light fixtures hang from the ceiling. One wall of Houston’s is covered nearly floor-to-ceiling with shelves of liquor bottles that staff retrieve via a convenient ladder.
Chairs at the tables and the sizable bar are comfortable enough to make you want to stay a while. There are televisions throughout the bar, so you never miss a game, and a pool table and electronic games if you seek more forms of entertainment.
Houston’s also has a nice outdoor area with a fire pit and seating that will come in handy when spring finally arrives.
For now, you can cozy up inside with a drink or two. Houston’s features about 15 tap beers, including the usual domestics along with some local craft brews.
On the weekend night of my visit, Houston’s featured about seven craft beers. They had Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter on tap, as well as Zipline’s Alpha Modern India Pale Ale, Thunderhead Brewing Company’s Golden Frau and Kros Strain Brewing Company’s Chocolate Papioat Stout.
All of these are worth a try. Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter has long been one of my favorites — even before I visited the brewery in Colorado. This hearty porter packs a vanilla punch and a note of caramel; it’s well-balanced and easy to drink.
The Alpha Modern from Lincoln’s Zipline Brewing Company is a sure bet for IPA fans. It’s jam-packed with hops and has a hint of grapefruit.
Golden Frau, from Kearney’s Thunderhead Brewing Company is a pale wheat ale that is perfect for craft beer newbies. It gets a touch of sweetness from Nebraska-made honey.
I’ve had each of these brews a time or two, but during my visit to Houston’s, I ordered Kros Strain’s Chocolate Papioat Stout. The relatively new Kros Strain Brewing Company is also located in La Vista, and it’s worth a visit itself. Its Chocolate Papioat Stout is a mellower, but still very good, beer.
In addition to its craft beer list, Houston’s also has featured cocktails. The weekend I visited, the list included a Be Mine Moscow Mule, a Winter White Cosmopolitan, a Barrel Aged Manhattan and a Creamy Pumpkin Hot Chocolate. The cocktails ranged in price from $6.50 to $10.
I got a Be Mine Moscow Mule with raspberry vodka, ginger beer, lime and a raspberry garnish for $7. It came in the classic copper mug, and the raspberry flavor was apparent, but not overwhelming. Like most Moscow Mules, it was refreshing and crisp.
It was a drink worth sipping slowly in the relaxed Houston’s atmosphere that encourages good conversation and a long stay.