Houston Dive Bar in the Heights Gets a Second Lease on Life With New Owner

Tall Texan

Houstonians, and especially Heights-area residents, poured one out for the iconic Alice’s Tall Texan when it closed in July 2020, unable to survive the “damn pandemic,” as it was called in a Facebook post. During its nearly 40-year run in a small building at 4904 North Main, Alice’s was beloved not only within the neighborhood, but throughout all of Houston. Now, a year and a half later, a local Houston bar owner has brought the bar back, as Tall Texan II.

Jesse Botello running the bar at Tall Texan II.
Jesse Botello running the bar at Tall Texan II. Photo by Ryan Baker

Jesse Botello, who is also one of the owners of Glitter Karaoke in midtown, has been quietly running a soft opening for Tall Texan II over the last few weeks. He says that he intends to keep the neighborhood-dive charm of the spot intact. For the exterior of the building, he has not changed much.

The interior is a different story. The walls of the original Tall Texan had four decades’ worth of eclectic decorations and was packed to the brim with beer memorabilia, lights, unique wallpaper and miscellaneous items. Botello decided to start fresh. For the time being, Tall Texan II’s walls are relatively bare, with solid cream- and green-colored walls, and a handful of signs and posters. Botello says that it is just the beginning, and the bar will continue to develop. 

The new bartop and liquor selection at Tall Texan II.
The new bartop and liquor selection at Tall Texan II. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Aside from the massive new L-shaped bar top that Botello handcrafted to match the cream color of the walls, the bar area will still be familiar to regulars. Most of the drink offerings are cans or bottles of beer, such as Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lonestar, with a few local options. Botello is working to replace the original bar’s draft system, as well as bring back the enormous beer ”chALICES.”

The biggest change is the addition of hard liquor. The bar features a small but respectable spirit selection mostly of American whiskeys such as Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, as well as a few tequila and vodka options. Botello is working on a small drink program, but has no intention of making anything too complicated.

The table and dining area at Tall Texan II.
The table and dining area at Tall Texan II. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Since the soft opening started, several of Alice’s Tall Texan’s regulars have made return visits, including founder Alice Ward herself. During the Super Bowl, while business was slow, the seats at the bar top were fully occupied by friends and a few former regulars. One was showing old photos of the original bar, and others shared their own memories of Alice’s. As he served drinks behind the bar, Botello interacted with the guests as though they were his own longtime regulars, thus fulfilling the warm, neighborly atmosphere for which Alice’s Tall Texan is known.

Tall Texan II does not have a kitchen, and is currently working on an arrangement with the La Macro food truck to serve from the bar on a regular basis.

For the time being, the bar is open Monday and Tuesday from 3 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday through Friday from 3 p.m to 2 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight. 

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