5 Must Do Things in Midtown

Photo courtesy of the Continental Club

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. 

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

  1. 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, Pho SaigonLes Givral’s and Saigon House (home to oxtail pho and Viet-Cajun crawfish) in the aforementioned Little Saigon; not to mention longtime favorite Mai’s. Those looking to hit that sweet spot should 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 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. Just a few blocks away near the Mid-Main development you’ll find fiery Sichuan at Spicy Girl, fusion street eats at Winbern Mess Hall, refreshing poke bowls at Diced Poke and conveyor belt sushi at Kura Revolving Sushi Bar. And we’d be remiss not to mention the excellent small plates at the sexy Ibiza Food & Wine Bar, juicy soup dumping spot Wanna Bao, Japanese-inspired Izakaya, and Portuguese-kissed Oporto Fooding & Wine House, which sits just outside the border between Midtown and Montrose. The ‘hood even has its own food shack, Rico’s Morning + Noon + Night, serving up everything from breakfast tacos to late-night burgers and dogs.
  2. 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, a cool destination for visual and performing arts where you’ll find artists collaborating in creative and exciting new ways. Don’t forget to snap a shot in front of the giant “Midtown” letters in Bagby Park; and be sure to check out the art installations and performances at the newly developed Midtown Park.
  3. 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 seriously big burgers from Christian’s Tailgate.
  4. 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. Sibling establishment Holman Draft Hall is one of the hottest patio destinations in the city, as is the hammock-filled Axelrad Beer Garden. Check out European-inspired wine bar 13 Celsius and the Brooklyn-esque Mongoose Versus Cobra for suds, wine, and all things fine.
  5. 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 and the divey Alley Kat Bar & Lounge. And look out for pop-up events at the totally chill Axelrad Beer Garden and Irish Cowboy, plus your favorite DJ sets at spots like Clé Day/Night Club and Capitol Bar.
Bagby Park | Photo: Cody Swann
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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 .