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Distillery 2520

2520 houston ave., houston, tx 77009   |  713.862.0200  | www.distillery2520.com

I’m not sure I know anyone who isn’t a fan of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Whether you’re a high-falutin’ city slicker that doesn’t know one end of a steer from the other, or a bona fide, badass vacquero, the annual event has got something for everyone…even if you don’t go.  Not that I don’t throw on my crusty Tony Llamas and scrounge for a plaid shirt when the event comes to town, but after so many years, I’ve figured something out – if you want free reign of any bar or restaurant in Houston, especially the ones you know will be packed any other day of the week, visit at 9pm during the annual bbq cookoff. It’s a perfect way to get to know your service industry specialists and beat the throngs of people that would normally pack those places to the gills. Distillery 2520, on 2520 Houston Ave. (go figure!), is that perfect place to get to know.

People bustling to and from work on their way downtown or into the guts of the Heights have to pass by, and there’s no better vantage point than one of the open decks at 2520. This time of year, when the last vestiges of winter still spit out a cool, nightly breeze, the doors and windows of 2520 are flung open and the place feels like a breezy Lincoln Log fort you built as a kid. With flatscreens at every angle, a deck and bar up top, and a single bar down below serving patrons inside and out, the adage “not a bad seat in the house” rings true. They also serve a favorite delicacy of mine…free and bountiful self-parking.

Despite saddling up to the bar during cookoff season, I was more than able to get a feel for the crowd. This isn’t the fist-pumping gaggle of Houstonians seeking a Dance Dance Revolution or the neighborhood dive where everyone smokes Winstons and wants to be left alone. 2520 fills a friendly niche somewhere between sports Mecca and casual gastro-lounge, making it a perfect neighborhood oasis for the Heights. The service is welcoming, just as you’d expect from a crew developed by owner Joe Licata, who came up through the Carrabba’s management ranks. The staff opens and closes every deal with a handshake and a smile.

The bar staff offers up a litany of cocktails, some of the crowd favorites being their constantly slushy, frozen sweet tea, screwdriver, margarita and Cuba libre. 2520 doesn’t deal in lager largesse, so don’t expect to get a t-shirt for sampling 300 beers or anything gimmicky like that. They do, however, offer a handful of chilly favorites from the tap and a thorough sampling of local brews from St. Arnold’s and Southern Star. They run a solid happy hour from 4-8 that knocks domestics down to $2.50 and well and frozen drinks down to $4, which will make it a perfect spot to post up and watch the Astros try and string together 30 wins this season. 2520 also offers pub grub that varies from ballpark fare to gourmet delights. Gooey Frito pie and crispy, thin-crust pizza on the same menu as udon and a kobe beef burger? 2520 pulls it off perfectly, no matter your gastronomic disposition.

I’m glad I made it to Distillery 2520 when I did, because it gave me a really good opportunity to experience the roots of a great establishment. Humble. Clean. Friendly. Hard-working. 2520 has all the necessary ingredients to be the next Heights hotspot. So when it’s time to trade the boots back in for the loafers and the ten-gallon hat for the trusty old ball cap, Distillery 2520 will still be ready to rodeo.

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