Whoa. Just: whoa. First of all, Houston Hall, owned by Jon Bloostein of Heartland Brewery and just opened on the borderlands between the West Village, Soho, and Hudson Square, is freaking enormous. As in, one of the largest single rooms you’re likely to enter this year, with 5,000 square feet of open space made to seem even more massive by the 30-feet-high ceiling, complete with rafters.
Also whoa? The crowds. The first time I entered Houston Hall it was during the NFL playoffs, Sunday around 5:30, and the place was JUMPING, with as many people checking out their fellow imbibers as were paying attention to the movie-theater-sized, projection-TV screen. And loud? It was very loud. Communal tables encourage mingling, and there’s plenty of standing-near-the-bar space as well. This is a happening spot.
Final whoa: the Houston Hall beer menu. Also the food menu, but first let’s take a look at the hoppy delights of Houston Hall. Here are ten tap brews in a variety of styles, all made exclusively for Houston Hall. There’s Pete’s Pilsner, for example, and J’s IPA, Marco’s Wit, Sam’s Pale Ale, and Carey’s Imperial Black Saisson, clocking in at an impressive 8% abv. And everything’s available in three sizes of steins: a 12 ounce, a 16 ounce, and a whopping, photo-op worthy 36 ouncer. AND they don’t try to gouge you at Houston Hall. The smalls are reasonable $5, so you can try a few different flavors, and the big steins are priced mostly in the low teens. There’s also plenty of wine and liquor options, if beer’s not your thing.
With all of the free-flowing beer, Houston Hall probably could have thrown a bunch of mediocre fried drunk food out from the kitchen and still pack them in but, thank goodness, they did not. In fact, Houston Hall teamed up with the excellent Milk Truck for five different grilled cheese creations, which are all really good: the breads, the fillings, the concepts, all high-quality stuff. These should be your default.
Also on the Houston Hall menu are a six-pack of “interesting” potstickers (I wolfed down my Buffalo Chicken dumplings; next time will be the Beef with Bacon), and a number of crowd-pleasing bar snacks, including deep-fried deviled eggs topped with crackling prosciutto. As suits its super-casual atmosphere, Houston Hall is a seat-yourself sort of place and, once ensconced, one or more of the army of red-shirted servers will take your order. Despite the youthful crowds and crazy noise, Houston Hall seems to have actual, attentive grown-ups in charge, making both a post-movie pop-in (the Film Forum’s right across the street) or a night of after-work debauchery a smooth-running affair. And if you want to watch any big sporting event on a 7,000-foot screen, Houston Hall is the place.
Houston Hall is located on Houston Street between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street, and is open at 12:00 noon every day, and until until 3:00 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday, 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 1:00 a.m. on Sunday and Monday. More info and the complete Houston Hall beer and food menus, on their website.