July 14th, 2009

The Community Bar: A Sociological Smorgasbord Bar

In 9 Words: Neighbor, Eclectic, Midtown, Redneck, Sleek, Dark, Chalk, Cozy, Tequila

Navigating to the Community Bar is easy enough because it is the only open establishment on Smith between the hustle of Pub Fiction and bustle of Westheimer/Elgin (at 9 pm anyway; yes, Paul and I are early for bar standards). The music and bright-white marquee target our two dominant senses as we saunter closer toward the welcoming deck adjoined to the front of the small building. Upon walking in, we are greeted by engaging chalk illustrations informing us of the beer options, specials and multiple messages (drunk scratch, words of wisdom, a clever joke) that any member of this community might have written for the public’s view.

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Through the dim light, we instantly realize that no one stereotype, ethnicity or age group is absent. Patrons range from 20s, 30s, 40s, and I’m fairly certain there is one gentleman (if that term applies to a leather-chaps clad biker) in his 50s. The music is different, the service is different and the vibe is much more mature. It works. The people at the bar and elsewhere chatting with friends are here because they want to be, not because they are Midtown overflow traffic.

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The atmosphere maintains a sleek minimalist comfort with analogous black furniture that contrasts and balances the outspoken chalk drawings and large flat screen TV behind the bar. There is a surprising amount of seating in such a small venue. Narrow tables along the northwest side are flanked by a long bench on one side, chairs on the other, juxtaposed to large wooden paned windows that easily dominate the cozy seating. If your wish is more private quarters you can lounge in one of the two coves plush with sofas and comfy chairs.

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We commandeer a couple of the tall stools and sidle up next to the bar to stand and chat with the rest of the party we’ve invited to join us. The bartender takes our order for a couple Lone Stars and we think it only proper to try the owner’s new delivery, a much-hyped, favorite tequila. Delicious. The service is prompt and more than adequate as we turn our attention to another draw of Community Bar, the food.

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We ask Bob, the man in charge of the kitchen, to surprise us with whatever he thinks we’ll like.Two plates teeming with food are delivered soon thereafter. While devouring our freshly made dumplings with soy sauce, bruschetta and french fries (don’t knock the combo, it works) at 1:30 am, we are hit with the unmistakable sound of Jerry Jeff’s “Redneck Mother” (in Midtown?). This epitomizes just how random the play list had been up to this point. The intense array of songs journey to our ears from every genre imaginable. Perhaps, this is to appeal to the previously mentioned smorgasbord of a community. Whatever the case, it brought an unexpected potluck of conversation with its many and varied tunes.

We leave the Community Bar just a bit before 2AM rolls around as if we’d just walked away from our own block. In the balmy morning hours, we part ways with these neighbors, thank the bartender and call it a night. Would we frequent this community again, or would we avoid it like an obnoxious roommate? We think it’s safe to say, we’ll join them again.

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Where – Midtown (2703 Smith St Houston, TX 77006-3515)
What –  A Nice Little Place We Know
Wear – T’s, Polos, Oxfords, Please No Bathrobes or Tanks, You’re Not Grabbing The Paper Here
Who – Us, You, Them
How Much – $20 If It’s Only Food, A Couple Rounds For Two Add $30
When – From Dinner Time to the Wee Hours
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— Richard

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