Alternative Solutions for Socializing
By Lindsey Harris
Photo by Tarryn Lambert
Dry, flat land stretching as far as the eye can see, accents of red, black and Double Ts spread all across town, and drunken, rowdy college students spilling out of bars almost every night of the week. Texas Tech University students do not have a wholesome image.
"You can ask anyone from College Station what Tech's reputation is and they'll say drunks and partiers," said Lizzie Hames, a graduate of Texas A&M University and a Texas Tech graduate student. "That's what anyone will say about Lubbock. When you come here, you imagine people drinking and partying, and that's the reputation."
Students from big cities might blame this on the fact that Lubbock is a smaller city, devoid of any night life except for that which includes alcohol, when, in reality, part of Lubbock's charm is its smaller-city feel, complete with hole-in-the-wall hangouts found only in the quaintest of towns. La Diosa Cellars, The House of Hookah, and J&B coffee shop are just a few of these unique-to-Lubbock hangouts that the town has to offer.
"Coming here, I didn't realize Lubbock had these places. In College Station, they had really good coffee shops and wine bars, and then I came to Lubbock and realized they had the same fun stuff, it wasn't all partying," Hames said.
Some college students want to experience the hustle and bustle of the nightlife that Lubbock's Depot District has to offer and participate in the well-known college student ritual of drinking on the weekends. For those that want to do this without the overcrowded, smoky, sometimes downright intimidating environment found in some of Lubbock's bars, then La Diosa Cellars is the place for them.
"When you go to a bar, you have the rowdy, drunk people. It's crowded, smoky, gross, and you have to stand up, but when you go to a coffee shop or a wine bar, you go there to relax. I want to be comfortable, sit back, relax, enjoy the food, and talk to my friends," Hames said.
La Diosa Cellars, which opened in January 2004, is a winery found in the heart of the Depot District on 17th Street and Buddy Holly Avenue. In addition to offering a variety of wines, some of La Diosa's own label, and others from across the state, the place also serves a variety of bistro-style foods, desserts and feature a coffee bar, all found in a relaxing and down-to-earth atmosphere.
"A wine bar is a completely different atmosphere than going to an actual bar. It's not actually a bar. It's more of a restaurant," said Hames. "You sit down, it's pretty fancy, and they usually have a band playing so you can listen to the band. You don't even have to drink wine, they have other things to drink, too, and they have really good, interesting food, and it's not expensive. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the food, music and company."
If someone is looking for that same relaxed atmosphere in the Depot District for socializing with friends, but without the presence of alcohol obviously found at La Diosa Cellars, then the House of Hookah on Buddy Holly Avenue is a solid option.
The House of Hookah on Buddy Holly Avenue between 16th and 17th streets is a hookah lounge owned and operated by Daniel Lloyd, a Texas Tech graduate and master's student. Opened in April 2006, the House of Hookah offers an atmosphere very similar to La Diosa Cellars, with plush couches, dim lights and background music, while still avoiding the smoky haze present in most bars that one might expect from a hookah lounge.
"When you walk out of a bar, you come out smelling like cigarettes. When you smoke hookah, you don't have the after effects of smelling like anything -- except for fruit, maybe. It's really almost like a smoke-free environment," said Becky Lloyd, Daniel Lloyd's wife and co-owner of the House of Hookah.
A hookah is a single or multi-stemmed water pipe that filters tobacco known as shisha, made of tobacco, molasses, honey and artificial flavors, through the cooled water in the base. With an abundance of flavors, ranging from mint chocolate chip to strawberry margarita, the House of Hookah offers a flavor to satisfy any craving in a relaxing, mellow environment not found in many bars.
"The hookah lounge gives you something new to try in a relaxing atmosphere and an environment that you can actually hold a conversation in. When you go to a bar, it's loud and crowded, smelly and obnoxious. Bars give people anxiety because it's an unpredictable group of people. You never know what's going to happen at a bar," said Lloyd. "The House of Hookah isn't like that. It's a place where you can have a first date or a group get-together. We have free wireless Internet, coffees and teas, an outside patio, a variety of games, a wide selection of cigars, soothing music, and of course, hookah."
Although the hookah lounge offers much more than just the actual act of smoking hookah, with all of its other amenities, if smoking hookah or drinking wine does not appeal to a person, but he or she still craves that cool, calm atmosphere found at both La Diosa Cellars and The House of Hookah, then J&B Coffee is for them.
Located at 26th Street and Boston Avenue and at 4406 19th St., J&B is more than just a local coffee shop. To native Lubbock residents, the coffee shop is one of the most unique and cool hangouts that Lubbock has to offer. Not only does J&B serve the most traditional coffee drinks found in Lubbock, complete with correct serving sizes and latte art mastered by the baristas, but at J&B, making coffee is a passion.
This love and passion for coffee stems from the fact that the place offers the highest-quality coffee experience found in Lubbock. From the syrups to the latte art to the coffee itself, J&B is a unique place. The coffee served there is always fair trade coffee, meaning the farmers that produced it are getting fair wages, something that sets J&B apart from other local coffee shops.
While some people enjoy the craziness of bars, loud music, air dense with smoke, and being grazed by strangers due to a lack of space, others prefer calmer, more relaxed atmospheres in which to spend their free time. Lubbock's small-town-feel offers someone who is looking for something to do in an intimate, relaxed atmosphere – there are plenty of alternatives to drinking at the bar.