5 Must Do Things in Third Ward

Photo courtesy of Project Row Houses

In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, 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. 

One of Houston’s six historic wards, Third Ward is a culturally rich, historically African-American neighborhood that houses Texas Southern University, The University of Houston, and Emancipation Park, a 10-acre park commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It was also once the home to popular figures including Debbie Allen, Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins, and yes, the Beyoncé. The dynamic neighborhood, boasting a mix of old and new, is slowly undergoing a renaissance as it strives to reenergize without losing its cultural importance to the community. The beautifully revamped Emancipation Park (which hosts concerts, recreational activities and more) is the perfect example, as are these five other excellent things to do.

Note: For the purposes of this list, the Third Ward is defined by the area represented in this map.

5 Must Do Things in Third Ward

  1. Support the Project Row Houses – Founded in 1993, this inspiring community-based arts and culture organization transformed a group of shotgun houses into art studios. Today, the organization continues to showcase some truly incredible local artworks while preserving, revitalizing, and empowering one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in the city. The space is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5pm. Tours of the Project Row Houses site are available with docents every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. Click here for directions.
  2. Feed your soul at Houston’s This Is It – Opened in Midtown in 1959 before moving to its current location down the street from Texas Southern University, this family-run spot is one of the oldest soul food restaurants in Houston. The homestyle kitchen draws crowds with slow-braised, meltingly tender oxtail, gravy-smothered chicken & homemade dumplings, and collard greens just like your granny made. Try it all, but save room for dessert. Click here for directions.
  3. Spend some time on campus – At the University of Houston, be sure to hit the Blaffer Art Museum, where six to eight visual and contemporary art exhibitions are curated every year. Admission is free and hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Or get tickets to a show at the Cullen Performance Hall, which hosts a lineup of music, opera, dance, and theatrical events. Afterward, grab a latte and satisfy your sweet tooth at The Nook Cafe. Click here for directions to the University of Houston. At Texas Southern University, make your way to The University Museum, where you’ll find one of Houston’s premiere museums showcasing interesting and exciting art created by African and African American artists. Click here for directions to Texas Southern University.
  4. Get a taste of the original Frenchy’s – You can find Frenchy’s Louisiana-style fried chicken all over Houston, but none seem as good as the lip-smacking eats from the original, likely because it’s a Houston institution. Located near the University of Houston campus, the iconic Scott Street location has been feeding hungry locals since 1969, and though there are plans to tear it down and replace it with a larger building in the near future, we have faith its magic will remain. Get the flawlessly crisp, Creole-flavored fried bird with a side of dirty rice, and some sweet potato pie for good measure. Click here for directions.
  5. Fuel up with coffee and vegan eats at The Doshi House  Tucked on a sleepy corner not too far from Emancipation Park, Doshi House is part-coffeehouse, part-art space, part-eclectic eatery, and fully awesome. The cozy neighborhood hangout acts as a sort of community center, with all walks of life stopping in to enjoy local roasts alongside a daily roster of fresh eats, some of which are vegan. Don’t miss the “not so” butter chicken, Korean bbq-style mushroom panini, and Creole red beans and rice. Click here for directions.
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Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .