5 Must Do Things in Northside Village & Near Northside

White Oak's Lawn attracts massive talent with fantastic views | Courtesy of White Oak Music Hall

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

A part of what is considered Northside—along with neighborhoods like the Heights, the Fifth and Sixth Wards and Acre Homes—this district is home to a traditionally Hispanic community with a small town feel. Because of its proximity to Downtown and the expansion of the light rail, the area is going through a redevelopment, mixing the old with the new as it makes its way into the spotlight.

Note: For the purposes of this list, Northside Village/Near Northside is defined as the area bound by North Main to the west, Hardy to the east, 610 to the north and Burnett to the south. This designation overlaps some of the eastern portion of the Greater Heights, including top spots on Airline Drive.

5 Must Do Things in Northside Village & Near Northside

  1. Rock out at White Oak Music Hall – Music fans rejoiced when this lively music venue opened up in the spring of 2016. The venue boasts 3 performance spaces, including a 1,000-plus capacity Music Hall, 200-plus capacity upstairs stage, and the 2,000-plus capacity, open-air Lawn, all of which play host to genres like indie, electronic, country and even stand-up comedy. There’s also the sibling watering hole and “bachelor pad in the sky” known as The Raven Tower next door. Get directions to White Oak Music Hall.
  2. Discover hidden gem restaurants – Northside restaurants are often overlooked because of their location, but it’s certainly worth a visit to get a taste of these culinary all-stars. First, there’s Asia Market Thai Restaurant, which already has a cult following. Find out why as you eat your way through an addicting array of home-style Thai and Lao eats, from sweet and fiery red, yellow, and green curries to savory noodles and laab. Those wanting excellent, vintage Tex-Mex should look no further than Teotihuacan Mexican Café, and right up the street, Chicago natives can find a little piece of home with the au jus-dipped Italian beef sandwiches and deep-dish pies at Chicago Italian Beef and Pizza. Hotspots like modern taqueria Fusion Taco, Vietnamese craft beer spot Hughie’s Tavern, breakfast taco–slinging Cantina Barba, and show-stopping coffee shop The Tipping Point only confirms that this part of town is one to watch.
  3. Say “cheese” at Houston Dairymaids – Houston’s most popular cheese purveyor got its start in 2007, but it didn’t open up shop to the public until 2012. Since its inception, cheesemonger Lindsey Schechter has vowed to showcase the work of Texas farms and artisan cheesemakers. Schechter and crew seek out natural, handmade product from unpasteurized milk whenever possible. Head here for free daily cheese tastings and to pick through a selection over 150 kinds of cheese alongside Slow Dough bread, honey, olive oils, salamis, jams, and chocolate (Saturday tastings are also usually accompanied by beer or wine, FYI). Get directions to Houston Dairymaids.
  4. Hit the Houston Farmers Market and El Bolillo one-two punch – Houston’s original farmers market remains one of its best. Open since 1958, Canino Produce Company started as a humble 3,800 square foot market. Today, the vibrant, bustling space has new digs that sprawl 20,000 square feet in what is known as the Houston Farmers Market. Peruse through the freshest local Texas fruit and vegetables direct from farms like Atkinson and Gundermann Acres, get “new crop” pecans that you can crack on site October through March, then pick through a large variety of goods ranging from quinoa and farm-fresh eggs to locally-made jams and sausage. There are also onsite food trucks, so you’ll probably want to come hungry. Houston Farmers Market is open 7 days a week, and while some vendors accept credit and debit cards, many of the produce stands and food trucks do not so bring cash. Make sure you save time to jet across the street to El Bolillo, a fantastic Mexican bakery where you’ll want to pick up a plethora of pan dulce in the form of freshly baked bolillo, torta, conchas gallinas, and churros. Heads up: this is also where you’ll want to get a tres leches cake for the next celebration in your life, whether it be a loved one’s birthday or… screw it, a Tuesday.
  5. Quench your thirst – Thirsty yet? A quick visit to these neighborhood heavy-hitters should do the trick. You haven’t had a tiki drink until you’ve hit the island-style watering hole, Lei Low Bar. The lei-d back bar takes a thoughtful approach to classic tiki cocktails, using top-shelf rums and liquors, and the appropriate flashy accoutrements, including florals, hula girls, and fire. Not sure what to get? The cool and knowledgeable mixologists will walk you through the menu, including a history of the tiki-fied drinks. Equally as chill is D&T Drive Inn, a modern take on a classic icehouse that’s become a favorite hangout for locals both in and out of the ‘hood. Choose from 50 taps of mostly craft brews, cool off with a frozen shandy on those unbearably hot days, and dig into Frito Pie and specials like weekly Steak Nights. And if you’re looking for a little fun with your drinks, Sideout Volleybar offers the opportunity to sip suds and enjoy a game of beach volleyball on one of its three outdoor beach volleyball courts with lights.
Shop local produce from longtime Canino vendors at Houston Farmers Market on Airline | Courtesy of Houston Farmers Market

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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 .