5 Must Do Things in the East End

Courtesy of East End Farmer's Market

In our Must Do Things Around Greater Houston series, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of communities, neighborhoods and destinations to bring you five fun, tasty, surprising and enticing reasons you should give each one a visit.

Located between Downtown to the west and the Port of Houston to the east, this sprawling neighborhood is rich in history and culture. Not only is the district home to the Harrisburg community, an early Texas trading post that was once considered for the initial development of Houston by the Allen brothers, it is also home to two of Houston’s oldest Hispanic neighborhoods, Magnolia Park and Second Ward.

With a thriving art scene, the expanding of the Brays Bayou trails and the light rail, the revitalization of Allen’s Landing, and a mix of traditional and modern hitting everything from the housing to the food, there are plenty of reasons to check out this vibrant ‘hood. Here are a few.

Note: For the purposes of the list, the East End District is defined as the area represented on this map.

5 Must Do Things in the East End

  1. Explore the arts, music and culture – Founded in 1977, the Talento Bilingue de Houston has evolved into the largest cultural arts center of its kind in Houston. The bilingual theater focuses on the Latino arts experience through performances, music and film festivals, and galleries. For cutting-edge multi-media dance productions, the Pilot Dance Project is a must see. Folk art fans should check out the Orange Show, an epic, maze-like architecture built single-handedly across two decades by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker. Graffiti and mural enthusiasts can also go on a fantastic art crawl along Canal Street and throughout the East End. If you’re looking for live music, Satellite Bar on Harrisburg is booking a great rotation of local and national touring acts, plus cheap beers and a dive bar attitude.
  2. Spend Sunday at the East End Street Market – Stretched along the Navigation esplanade, this local farmers and street market has grown to house over 30 vendors in its first year. Head here for organic produce and eggs, artisan cheeses and baked goods, flowers, crafts, art, jewelry, and local food trucks. Afterward, take a stroll along the esplanade to explore more neighborhood gems. Sundays 10am to 2pm. Click here for directions.
  3. Taste the OG fajitas at the Original Ninfa’s on NavigationWhile this ‘hood has no shortage of authentically awesome Mexican and Tex-Mex eats (the Original Villa Arcos’ excellent breakfast tacos being just one example), you have to try the fajitas that sparked Houston’s fajita craze at least once. Mama Ninfa first began feeding locals from a small taco stand (and later a restaurant) in 1973. Today, Ninfa’s on Navigation is an institution thanks to their addicting outside skirt steak, darkened and served straight from a sizzling hot comal alongside scratch-made tortillas. Click here for directions.
  4. Have a damn good time at Moon Tower Inn Gourmet wild game weenies and craft suds are the name of the game at this totally chill watering hole. In addition to a fantastic, 66-tap lineup of brews and outrageous creations like duck dogs with apple brandy and a fiery cheeseburger packed with 13 chiles, the ice house also hosts movie nights, crawfish boils, and all other kinds of fun shenanigans in their sprawling yard. Click here for directions, and be sure to check out sibling establishment Voodoo Queen Daiquiri Dive. Click here for even more awesome East End Bars, like the new Cidercade Houston, a boozy cider-fueled arcade bar, too.
  5. Settle in with a cup of Joe – The East End offers up some of the city’s finest spots to get cozy with a cup of coffee and spend some time. Coral Sword on Telephone Road (co-founded by former Astro Hunter Pence) is a haven for board game enthusiasts, Dungeons & Dragons players, and video game tournaments; Xela Coffee Roasters on Canal Street provides stunning drinks and exotic coffees, plus super limited releases of clothing and apparel that you’ll have to act fast on before its gone; and Segundo Coffee Lab pours up flavorful lattes and features extended hours until 9pm for those that need an evening caffeine fix. And if you’re not much into coffee, then the homegrown Kickin’ Kombucha has a taproom on Lawndale that’s worth checking out for their local market that features fresh produce, eggs, cheese, and more.

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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 .

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