Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Sugarhill Lounge

On the second day of my search for Houston Hip Hop, I found myself at Sugarhill Bar and Lounge. I was tempted by the arrival of Biz Markie, who was hosting that evening, and so came dressed as always, just enough to impress but still casual enough to dance.

 Let's run it down from top to bottom. Sugarhill has limited parking so your first and likely only option will be valet. You can try and park along the street, but that's a tricky proposition and the line can stretch pretty long when this  place gets moving. I went on a Thursday and there was no cover, but cannot speak for other days just yet, although I'm aware they're advertising free entry for Friday.

Once inside there's a bar directly ahead, couch seating along the right wall, a dance floor to the left and an exit onto the patio. By 11:30 the inside was moving with the bar packed up and all the seating, which was already reserved, filled. A few tables round out the interior, where people were snacking on food and having drinks. I made a straight line for the patio, which is where I like to start my night and get adjusted to my surroundings.

 There's a stocked bar outside along with some seating, though again it's limited. A few space heaters helped warm the exterior, and a BBQ truck was posted near the edge of the patio. This is a good thing, as many people will go outside to get some food to along with their beer, have a cigar and enjoy the more relaxed environment. The outside is definitely for chatting and chilling.
 A return to the inside brings on the crowd that's gathered to dance. It gets cramped as the night rolls on, and I'm hoping one day the place can expand. The music is definitely a great mix of hip hop from the old school and new school, and the DJs know how to mix it up. Drink prices are fairly standard for Houston, four dollars for a beer. At nine dollars for a Jack and Coke that's slightly toward the high side for the city, which I've felt has averaged 7-8.

Although that's in keeping with the overall vibe. While you'll see casual men in plaid shirts and pressed jeans, you won't see the baseball cap and tank top crowd, so you're getting a different mix. Sugarhill doesn't aim to be ultra upscale, but it does ask that you dress nicely for the evening, with a heavier emphasis on the weekend to look nice. The crowd is primarily African American, black, urban. As I said in my review for Gertner's, if that makes you uncomfortable, this is the wrong city for you to live in. 

It's also on the edge of the Third War, which has a mixed reputation. As someone that lives in the area, let me say you're missing out if you skip on Sugarhill. Situated alongside a Subway in a strip mall area, it doesn't easily stand out. Even my taxi driver missed it. However, those who know about it, who go there, love it. It might seem easy to miss, but it gets packed, and the crowd is friendly. Once again I had a great time meeting new people, making business contacts and talking to some lovely women. One guy even bought me a drink just to be friendly.

So what makes Sugarhill stand out? The music is great. The drinks are about what you'd expect. The bartenders were nothing but darlings, very nice women who really went out of their way. Despite the crowd they were patient. At the end of the night, they even tried to help me get a taxi when mine didn't show. And, when that taxi never showed, I still got a ride home. What better service can I ask for than that?

So much love for Sugarhill. I'm returning tonight to see what their Friday is like, and plan on having a great time once again.

The Final Call:
Facilities: 3/5
Staff: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Drinks: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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