Walkable Houston: the Main Street Strip in Downtown

"Planter and Stems" in Main Street Square by Floyd Newsum | Photo: 365 Houston

While Houstonians definitely love their cars, there are nooks and crannies of the city that are best explored by foot. In our Walkable Houston series, we traverse those districts to find the prettiest parks, hottest restaurants and bars, coolest local art and shops, and most visit-worthy hidden gems.

Stretching just over a mile from Commerce to Pierce, the Main Street strip is the epicenter of Downtown. Stroll along the street and you’ll find a plethora of bars, restaurants, art installations, shops and more.

Play & Explore

  • Prohibition TheaterHome to burlesque troupe The Moonlight Dolls, this stunning theater rocks Art Deco features, a serpentine staircase, semi-private mezzanine, and grand stage for sultry performances. You’ll find it off Prairie and Main.
  • GreenStreet Off Main between Polk and Dallas, Downtown’s GreenStreet development is chock full of restaurants, shopping and entertainment experiences. Lookout for a lineup of fun events.
  • House of Blues – Catch top artists and up-and-coming talent at this soulful live music venue, located within GreenStreet.
  • Lucky Strike – This modern bowling alley offers 14 premium lanes, a full bar and food menu, projection and flat screens, and more fun including darts, shuffleboard, billiards, and ping pong.
  • Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar – The revelry goes well into the night at this lively GreenStreet dueling piano.
  • Spa by Alessandra – Schedule an appointment to pamper and escape at this intimate, modern luxury spa, located in Hotel Alessandra.

Eat & Drink

  • Lilly & Bloom Ease into things with a handcrafted cocktail or two at this two-story lounge, located on Commerce and Main.
  • Etro Nightclub With a move from Westheimer to Downtown’s Main Street, this ‘80s bar and nightclub is sure to be rad as ever.
  • Thai Café Head to this quaint café on Franklin and Main to fill up on specialties like pad thai, fiery curries, and mango sweet rice.
  • Hotel ICON Enjoy a leisurely meal at Line & Lariat or get a drink at the L&L Bar at this iconic hotel, set right around the corner from Market Square Park.
  • Roma’s Pizza Grab a slice or a whole pie at this Main Street pizza joint.
  • OKRA Charity Saloon Drink for a cause at this popular bar, which donates all of its proceeds to a local charity each month (each drink will earn you a charitable vote). The hotspot sits just off Main on Congress.
  • Boomtown Coffee This fan-favorite coffee shop now has an outpost on Main, offering breakfast, lunch, and expertly crafted lattes, teas, and cocktails.
  • Fabian’s Latin Flavors This Main Street spot whips up eclectic Latin flavors, from empanadas and ceviche to Cuban mojo ribs. Look out for salsa nights with live DJs and dancing.
  • Little Dipper Bar Sip bourbon and check out the jukebox at this cool Main Street bar.
  • Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge This second-story haunt is a bit hidden; you’ll find the doorway off Main and a creaky staircase that leads up to the cozy craft cocktail bar and patio.
  • Cantina Barba This taco-fueled joint is open from morning til late night, slinging goodies stuffed with chorizo and eggs, smoked pork, barbacoa and more.
  • The Pastry War One of Downtown’s coolest spots is this mezcaleria, from the minds behind the ever-popular Anvil in Montrose.
  • Tongue-Cut Sparrow Accessible through a door and stairwell inside The Pastry War, this high-class drinkery offers a formal cocktail bar experience. Reservations can be made for half the bar, with the other half reserved for walk-ins.
  • Nightingale Room A sibling establishment to spots like The Pastry War and Anvil Bar & Refuge, this small nightclub and bar offers fresh drinks and an enormous collection of vinyl, plus house music on the weekends.
  • Casa Blanca Lounge This Main Street hideaway turns up the volume with music and flowing drinks by night.
  • Notsuoh Part bar, part eclectic music, art and poetry space, this oddball dive is Houston at its finest.
  • Dean’sGrab an Old Fashioned or a local brew at this casually cool cocktailery.
  • Live Sports Bar & Grill Hit the rooftop at this popular nightlife spot, or hang out inside and catch the games on TV.
  • The Commoner & The Boulevardier Get simple, straightforward cocktails daily downstairs at The Commoner, and a comfy escape from the city while upstairs at the loungy The Boulevardier on Thursday through Saturdays.
  • Bovine & Barley It’s all about craft beer and good nosh at this fun hangout. Hit the taps and casks and grub on eats from wings and brisket nachos to burgers and fried eclairs.
  • Local Foods With seasonal treats and locally-sourced ingredients, this casual kitchen offers next-level sandwiches, refreshing salads, and more. The nut-crumbled “crunchy” chicken sandwich is a local favorite.
  • Boots ‘n Shoots You’ll have a whiskey-soaked good time at this Main Street party spot.
  • Conservatory Houston’s first food hall is just off Prairie, featuring an underground beer garden, wine bar, and vendors from Arte Pizzeria to Moku Bar.
  • The Moonshiner’s Southern Table + Bar From house moonshine and smoked brisket grilled cheese to craft beers and shrimp & grits, this kitchen and bar offers a taste of Southern comfort.
  • Molly’s Pub Grab a pint at this toasty Irish watering hole.
  • Shay McElroy’s Irish Pub With lush furnishings from the Rice Hotel and a bar imported from Ireland, this pub lends itself to both a quiet afternoon drink and rowdy night.
  • Minuti Coffee Get your morning, afternoon or a nighttime pick-me-up at this Italian coffeehouse.
    The District Stop by this Main Street bar and bistro for eats from oysters and charcuterie to center-cut filet and Baja tuna. And check out sibling establishment Cellar 7 Wine & Bar Bites for join Wine 101 classes, event tastings, wine dinners, or just simple bar bites and drinks.
  • Café Express Open for weekday breakfast and lunch, hit this counter-service spot for sandwiches, salads and more.
  • Sunny’s This fun-loving dive bar is known for Jell-O shots and good times.
  • Prelude Coffee & Tea You’ll find lattes, donuts and more at this Greenway coffee spot in the lobby of 609 Main.
  • Flying Saucer Draught EmporiumCraft beer fans can’t miss this popular draught emporium, which rocks a heavy roster of lagers, stouts, IPAs, ciders and more from around the globe.
  • Finn Hall One of Downtown’s coolest food halls features 10 vendors and two full bars. Pop in for burgers, oysters, dumplings, beers, banh mi, and tacos, among other eats.
  • Bombay Pizza – Get sag paneer pizza, tandoori chicken rolls and classic lasagna at this Indian-Italian pizza joint, just a few blocks away on Main.
  • GreenStreet DiningPop into GreenStreet and you’ll find dining options including III ForksSteakhouse, modern European restaurant Lucienne, Andalucia Tapas Restaurant & Bar and more.
  • Burger Theory In the renovated Holiday Inn, this beefy spot offers gourmet burgers made with a blend of chuck, brisket and short rib on a potato bun.
  • Your Pie Crisp, smoky pies are made your way at this pizza joint.
  • Spire Nightclub Night owls can dance until dawn at this late-night party spot.

Shop & Support Local

  • The Shops at Houston Center – This nearby shopping center houses boutiques, galleries, retail shops and more.
  • Forever 21 This trendy fashion retailer sits off Main in the GreenStreet development.
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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 .