5 Must Do Things in Montrose

Scour Montrose for some of the city's best eat, drink and fun | Photo: Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

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.

Originally imagined as a planned community and streetcar hub, this largely residential neighborhood has morphed into the heart of Houston.

Today, its eccentricity shines through a mosaic of century-old bungalows and sky-scraping townhomes, award-winning restaurants and eclectic hole-in-the-walls, offbeat bars and music dives, awe-inspiring art galleries and theaters, and funky shops and businesses with plenty of local soul.

Note: For the purposes of this list, Montrose is defined by this map.

5 Must Do Things in Montrose

  1. Experience the arts – This exciting neighborhood is bursting with artsy and cultural experiences. Catch live theatrical performances at the two-story Stages Repertory Theatre, discover the hilariousness of Grown-up Storytime, check out open mic stand-up and live rock at Rudyard’s British Pub, or broaden your cinematic horizons with artist-made, non-commercial film and video at Aurora Picture Show. At Art League Houston, you’ll encounter diverse and dynamic contemporary visual art that will make you think. Of course, you can’t miss the mecca of all things artistic, Menil Campus, where you’ll have the chance to view the prized Menil Collection, visit Menil Drawing Institute, and get zen at the spiritual Rothko Chapel.
  2. Go on a lower Westheimer bar crawl – Not many areas of the city are walkable, but lower Westheimer is one that is (though we admit the sidewalks leave something to be desired). So it’s no wonder the street is lined with some of the hottest watering holes around, making it perfectly primed for a DIY bar hop. Crawl from the Palm Springs-esque Present Company to the cool, no-frills jazz bar Catbirds; and next, to the king of all cocktail bars, Anvil Bar and Refuge, where you’ll find its 100-list, a library of the bar’s 100 most noteworthy classic cocktails to make your way through. Just around the corner, Tongue-Cut Sparrow is a unique, formal cocktail experience that pulls all the stops. Finish up your crawl by experiencing patio life at La Grange, chasing tequila with tacos at Pistolero’s, enjoying world-class wines at Camerata at Paulie’s or Montrose Cheese & Wine, living the dive life at Boondocks, or by sipping a badass collection of American whiskeys at Poison Girl. Of course, if sitting around at an icehouse and eating some of the city’s best tacos without all of that walking involved sounds more your speed, you can always skip Westheimer and head straight to West Alabama Ice House.
  3. Eat, eat, and eat some more – If there was ever a neighborhood in which to stuff yourself silly from morning ‘til night, it’s Montrose. Start with a.m. delights at Christy’s Donuts & Kolaches and Common Bond; get cheap and quite excellent breakfast tacos at La Guadalupana Bakery & Café and Tacos Tierra Caliente; indulge in Italian pastries and coffee at La Sicilia Bakery & Cafe; or get classic breakfast plates at Barnaby’sEmpire Cafe, and Brasil. For a full on brunch experience, loosen your belt and pony up to the legendary all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at Chef Hugo Ortega‘s famed Hugo’s, or check out heavy hitters like Backstreet Cafe and Snooze. What about burgers, you ask? There are plenty, but Lankford Grocery and The Burger Joint may have the greatest of them all. Oyster and po’boy fans need to check out Acme Oyster House and Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine. And if you still need more reason to get out of the office during lunch, there’s Cielito Cafe, Velvet Taco, Niko Niko’s, Southern Yankee Crafthouse, and fan-favorite Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine. For a fantastic meal to start or end your night on the town, you’ll want to hit some of the best restaurants not only in Montrose but in the entire city. Some of the city’s finest dining destinations, including 93 Til, Bludorn, March, Nobie’s, Ostia, Riel, Roost, Rosie Cannonball, Traveler’s Table, and Uchi show off some serious culinary talent. Of course, there’s also Szechuan cuisine at Mala Sichuan and Pepper Twins, ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya, island-style bites and drinks at The Toasted Coconut, Vietnamese classics at Lua Viet Kitchen, build-your-own poke at Ono Poke, authentic Mexico City fare at Cuchara, incredible pizzas at Pizaro’s, smoked meats and bbq tacos at The Pit Room, authentic Tex-Mex at El Tiempo Cantina, and excellent Italian at the fine-dining Da Marco and fast-casual Paulie’s. Hope you’re not too full, because late night po’ boys and a pile of gravy-smothered fries at BB’s Cafe are an absolute must.
  4. Peruse antiques, thrift, and boutique shops – Montrose is a damn near perfect ‘hood to go on a shopping spree. Head down Westheimer and you’ll practically be hit in the face with adorable boutiques, antique shops, and cheap thrift shops that won’t break the bank, offering everything from vintage furniture and handmade jewelry to this season’s hottest fashions. Biscuit Home, Space Montrose, Emerson Rose, Leopard Lounge, and Tejas Custom Boots are just a few of the all-stars. Venture deeper into the ‘hood and you’ll find shops like The Guild Shop and Reeves Antiques.
  5. Get your caffeine on – The concentration of seriously good coffee shops in this neighborhood is downright impressive. Start at Blacksmith, where you’ll find Greenway Coffee roasts alongside Vietnamese steak and eggs—and what is probably the best sausage breakfast biscuit in town. Right down the street is Campesino Coffee House, a cozy Latin American-style spot on Waugh that serves a killer cortadito. For coffee that looks like it was brewed in a science lab, hit Siphon Coffee, where the unique siphon method adds some wonderfully interesting tasting notes to your brew. You also won’t want to miss the lattes and cold brews from neighborhood favorites Blonde Biscotti, Canary, Fix Coffeebar, and Southside Espresso; the people watching and camaraderie at Black Hole; the laidback atmosphere at Agora; and capps and cabs from the café, wine shop, and market, Mercantile.
Find wares from local artisans and Houston souvenirs at Space Montrose | Photo: Jenn Duncan; courtesy of Space Montrose

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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 .