When you come to Houston and start researching the best beer bars, there is one that’s consistently near the top – Shepherd Park Draught House. There are some good reasons for that…let me explain some of them…
Hidden away in Independence Heights (The Heights), they can be found at 3402 N. Shepherd. It’s a cozy, little place with a solid food menu and impressive selection of draught beers, accompanied by many bottles. It’s nothing like you’d expect from the outside. When you walk in the music is a perfect volume to hold a conversation over – yet still rockin’. Rancid, Minor Threat, The Cure, Violent Femmes and an awesome mix of old and new punk / rock. They’ve only been here 10 months and have already developed a strong reputation in the community.
Take a seat at the small bar when you walk in or head towards the side of the small seating area to grab a booth or table! Either way, the service is excellent. It hasn’t mattered if it’s dead or if it’s busy – the servers are on top of asking what you’d like to eat or drink. Along the wall down the little alley that serves as the seating area, you’ll see an impressive collage of old punk concert flyers – man, it was such fun reading through them. You can see in the picture that Minor Threat, Husker Du, Black Flag, Dwarves and Rise Above all make for a beautiful portrait. I loved to see some old flyers for Max’s Kansas City on the wall! The birthplace of punk in NYC was the stage for Kraut and Youthanasia the night shown in the flyers. Towards the back you’ll see a replica of the old CBGB awning and a pic of Sid and Nancy paying homage to this place’s punk theme. Great decor to hang out in all night! The music just adds to the fantastic environment they’ve built here. My servers tonight were Jessica and Roni. It was Roni’s first day, but they seem to be training her well! They were both super-nice and stopped by checking on me several times. The bartender and manager was Riley, who again was very nice and knowledgeable about the building, food and beer. I guess this used to be a bar named “Octane”…ummm…just being a dick and judging by the name it sounds terrible.
They have a lot of knowledge around the selection on tap. The most impressive of all being Karbach, a local Houston brewery. The demand has been so high for their beer, they’re going crazy trying to make deliveries happen apparently. I came across two of their beers and they’re both outstanding. The first being Rodeo Clown Double IPA – hoppy, a little bitter and carrying a nice kick it’s a medium brown caramel color. At a 9.5% ABV, you’ll know you’re not drinking a lightweight. Surprisingly, only scoring an 85 average on BeerAdvocate, I’m in love with it and can’t wait for it to migrate to Dallas. The next is Weisse Versa Wheat – wow. What an outfriggingstanding Hefeweizen this is! They’ve done a superb job crafting this beer to hold a citrusy crispness that most strive to attain. Scoring a 91 at BeerAdvocate,, it’s a mere 5.2% ABV, so drink up! In other news, they have a wide selection of St. Arnold’s, which must be mandatory in Houston…because it’s made here, but every damn one I’ve had tastes like water trash. Tonight I tried Endeavour Double IPA. Thank the lord, they know how to make a good beer! I had lost faith! Endeavour is a BIG WIN! It’s everything you want in a Double IPA to the extreme – bitter, hoppy, piney and lots of carbonation – a glass full of deliciousness.
For food, there are plenty of grub to choose from. For starters, they have Thai Chili Wings (which come in BBQ or Hot as well), Sea Salt Pretzels, Fire Roasted Hummus and more. I selected the Sea Salt Pretzel, and my first thought was “I HAVE CHOSEN WISELY!!!” They’re done as large pretzel sticks and come with a side of honey butter. Sweet, but not very salty as advertised, they are absolutely delicious. The honey butter is just the icing on the cake – absolutely perfect.
For dinner, there are yet again several tasty options. There’s Island Jerk Chicken (highly rated on Yelp), Korean Short Rib Tacos, Poblano Burger (and 3 other styles), Grilled Cheese OD (including cheddar, baby swiss, Nantucket pimento…) and a Braised Short Rib Sandwich. I wound up selecting the Island Jerk Chicken. This absolute madness of a dinner comes with pineapple salsa, black beans and coconut rice! The flavor and heat in the dry rub on the chicken is simply amazing…it brings a frigging tear to my eye that it tastes so good for only $10! They could easily charge $15 and I would keep coming back again and again for this. The sweetness of the coconut rice and pineapple salsa smacks you in the face alongside the island flavor of the allspice and cinnamon – good lord people, I cannot properly put into words how good this dish is.
Overall, if you’ve been to Houston in the last 10 months and have not been to Shepherd Park, you should be disappointed. The service, beer and food in this place is on par with anything, anywhere, anytime…get your ass in here!
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