6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005
I love dive bars, smart people, and cheap drinks. I got all three at Valhalla, a hole-in-the-wall bar located in an old chemistry building on the Rice University campus. We only happened upon this place thanks to a friend of ours who is a Rice alumnus. There is practically no free parking, but it seems the thing to do is just park alongside the road and leave your hazards on. We were skeptical at first but saw several other cars with their headlights blinking, so we decided why not? When in Rice…
In Scandinavian mythology, Valhalla–old Norse for “hall of the slain”–is a majestic hall in Asgard ruled by the god Odin. Inside isn’t majestic, but instead feels like a cozy bunker with its windowless walls and cavernous ceiling. Music just depends on whose iPod happens to be hooked up to the speakers at the moment; Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, and the Cure all got a chance at the airwaves during our visit. The crowd consists of mostly graduate students–there are probably more intelligent conversations per capita at Valhalla than any other bar in Houston. But despite all its charm, the best thing about Valhalla has got to be the prices.
We had one soda (that’s me–you didn’t think I’d be drinking so soon after chemo, did you?) and five beers (and I’m talking none of that Michelob Light bullshit, but rather Guinness, microbrewed (512), locally brewed St. Arnold’s kind of stuff) for–get this–$12. You can’t beat those prices.
The beer is cheap because it’s a non-profit bar; bartenders are all voluntary students, and the money goes back into Rice grad programs. There are tables outside in case the weather’s nice, but funny thing is Valhalla isn’t open Saturday nights when perhaps the peak of weekly drinking happens. So if you don’t mind the odd hours, the skimpy parking, and the lack of hard liquor on the menu, Valhalla is an awesome neighborhood bar that’s definitely off the beaten path. I give this place five out of five pints.