If you have to go to Houston on business, and must stay downtown, I suggest the Magnolia as a place to stay. There are a couple of places I visited that I'd like to share with you that are both about a block away from the hotel, so you don't even need a car.
On my last trip to Houston, the Flying Saucer was recommended to me. Actually, they have a lot of beers here that I hadn't tried, and you can make a sampler so you don't end up trying to decide how many pints of beer to drink, but instead try 5 different 5 oz beers. On the flight down, I thought about what kind of different food I could eat in Houston, and remembered I had some excellent Sushi on the north side of town back in November 2006. I ended up getting two Sushi rolls the first night at Azuma. I sat at the sushi bar and was served very quickly. They seemed to be having trouble with a salmon order at the bar, which from overheard conversation was taking at least 15 minutes. The rolls were good, but I didn't think as great as the place I went to on the north side, whose name I cannot remember.
As I look for links to these places online, I mostly find local reviews. It would appear to me that you don't want to eat or drink anywhere in downtown Houston on a weekend night, or else, people just don't understand that these are the two busiest nights of the week, and therefore, are probably not the best times to go downtown. I've been to these places between Monday and Wednesday, and they were fine.
On my second night, I wanted Mexican food, but the only place close that was open that resembled Mexican food was Chipotle. Say what you want about Chipotle, I could eat there every day. I love a big burrito, and they have tasty ingredients. Right next door, underneath the historic Rice Hotel was Shane McElroy's Irish Pub. I actually checked the entrance to this place before going to Chipotle to scope out a menu, if one existed. Nope, its strictly a drinking establishment, and their little chalkboard had a Chimay logo on it, so I decided to get a burrito and then come back afterwards.
They've got a really decent vibe. There are apartments of varying sizes for rent in the floors above, as this used to be the historic Rice hotel and is now know as the Post Rice Lofts. JFK stayed here the night before he went to Dallas and was assassinated. They had some decent beers on tap, what you would expect for an Irish pub (Guiness, Harp, no Bass) plus others like Smithwick's, a local St. Arnold's Amber, Full Sail IPA out of Oregon, and the typical Bud and Miller products. In bottles, they have the red label Chimay, Duvel, Hoegarden, and I think maybe one other Belgian. Of course they have Mexican beer, such as Corona. Plus they have a full bar of wines and liquor as well, which is very nice. Pretty woodwork, cool layout, and one of those new-fangled jukeboxes that allows you to use the internet to find songs. I played Slobberbone's "Butchers" and Drive-By Truckers' "Lisa's Birthday". Heh.
Tuesday at the Flying Saucer is Trivia Night. I sat at the bar and had a conversation about stuff with a fellow named Bruce, who had retired from Halliburton about 5 years ago and was working at a satellite communications company. I told him my grandpa retired from Halliburton in 1984.
I came in two questions behind everyone else playing trivia, but decided to play anyway. As I was answering one question, I said to Bruce, "Man, I wish I had a laptop, this place has wireless and I could google this stuff." Bruce then pulled out his Blackberry. We came in second, which was a $25 gift certificate. I gave it to Bruce since it was time to head out, and I wasn't going to be in downtown Houston in the next 3 months.
Beers that I enjoyed on this trip: Avery White Rascal, Duvel, Victory Hop Wallop, Sierra Nevada Porter