In our Must Do Neighborhood series, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit.
While you may think of Midtown as a place where rowdy young professionals live and play, the trendy ‘hood has more than just a killer party scene (though don’t worry, we’ll get to that, too). The popular residential district houses mixed-use developments, has a fantastic restaurant and arts scene, and is home to “Little Saigon,” a section of town that housed a large Vietnamese community in the 1970s and where you can find a lineup of banh mi shops to this day. See what kind of fun this vibrant neighborhood brings with our five ways to explore.
Note: For the purposes of this list, Midtown is defined by this map.
5 Must Do Things in Midtown
- Go from brunch to date night – Ease into the day with one the city’s best fried wings and waffles plates at the uber popular morning spot, The Breakfast Klub, or get traditional diner eats and endless hot coffee at Harry’s Restaurant & Cafe. For expertly-crafted cocktails and standout brunch plates, hit Weights + Measures (the dukka-spiced carrot pizza is an absolute must order). For killer Vietnamese (who said banh mi and pho aren’t brunch?), check out Cali Sandwich, Thien An and Les Givral’s in the aforementioned Little Saigon. And to hit that sweet spot, be sure to check out the Saturday morning bake sales at Sugar Fairy Rebecca Masson’s Fluff Bake Bar. When you’re looking for the perfect date night, head over to Midtown’s unofficial restaurant row, where you can get a coastal Southern feast at Holley’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, authentic Italian pies at Piola, incredibly good ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar, fancy French fare at Artisans, and Creole-style fine dining at the beloved Midtown institution, Brennan’s of Houston. The fine dining continues at Charivari Restaurant, an unassuming strip center joint where you can get a taste of European sophistication through Vienna pork schnitzel and Budapest-style foie gras. We’d be remiss not to mention the excellent small plates at the sexy Ibiza Food & Wine Bar, Japanese-inspired Izakaya, and Portuguese-kissed Oporto Fooding & Wine House, which sits just outside the border between Midtown and Montrose.
- Experience the arts – Located just off the cusp of the Museum District, this area of town has no shortage of culture. Get a glimpse of contemporary and fine art from local, national and international artists at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art. At Ensemble Theatre, you can catch an enriching program of dramas, comedies, and musicals from one of the largest African-American professional theater companies in the U.S. Or head to The MATCH, Houston’s newest destination for visual and performing arts where you’ll find artists collaborating in creative and exciting new ways. And don’t miss the thought-provoking art installation, the “Before I Die” Wall, in Bagby Park.
- Get your drink and sweat on with a Pedal Party – We’re sure you’ve seen one of those giant bicycle-trolleys riding around town. The ones with the group of people that look like they are having way more fun than you? That would be a Pedal Party, and one of the best places to take one is in this bar-heavy, easily-traversed ‘hood. The party bikes hold up to 16 passengers, with 15 seats and one standing spot for your designated “bartender” in the center. Hop on and make your way to pubs like Little Woodrow’s, Front Porch, Irish Cowboy, and The Dogwood. Since you’ll probably work up an appetite, finish off with some rib-sticking smoked meat and sides at Midtown Barbecue or seriously big burgers from Christian’s Tailgate.
- Stay classy with cocktails and wine – Though Midtown’s party bars are certainly a good time, there are plenty of other, let’s just say more adult-like atmospheres. Get caffeinated and boozed up at Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails, the cool coffee shop and bar that offers killer brews and refreshing tiki drinks. At Wooster’s Garden, the brews come in the form of hoppy local suds and the drinks packed with syrups, bitters and flames. Craft cocktail spot Spare Key, right upstairs the from funky Stoked Tacos & Tequila, is a true hidden gem. Check out European-inspired wine bar 13 Celsius and the Brooklyn-esque Mongoose Versus Cobra for suds, wine, and all things fine.
- Jam to live music – Howl at the Moon, Houston’s hippest dueling piano bar, is the perfect place to unwind with friends, slurp down buckets, and dance to your favorite covers, from old school rock to current pop and hip hop, well into the night. You can also catch live bands at the raucous Continental Club, the divey Alley Kat Bar & Lounge, or the soulful Indigo at Midtown. And look out for pop-up events at the totally chill Axelrad Beer Garden, plus your favorite DJ sets at spots like Clé Day/Night Club and Capitol Bar.