5 Must Do Things Around Northside Village

Two women perusing farmers market goods while other people walk behind them
Shop local produce and farm-fresh ingredients at Houston Farmers Market | Courtesy of Houston Farmers Market

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 Around Northside Village

An aerial view of the White Oak Music Hall lawn stage with the Downtown Houston skyline in the background
White Oak offers two indoor stages and a lawn for some of music’s biggest touring acts | Courtesy of White Oak Music Hall

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.

A close up of a deep dish cheese pizza
This Airline spot dishes Chicago beef sandwiches and deep dish pizzas | Courtesy of Chicago Italian Beef & Pizza

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 and breakfast taco–slinging Cantina Barba only confirms that this part of town is one to watch.

A charcuterie plate with meat, blue cheese, and nuts
Sample cheeses and grab one of the best charcuterie boards in the city at Houston Dairymaids | Courtesy of Houston Dairymaids

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).

Two plates of colorful conchas in green, white, pink, yellow and purple
El Bolillo on Airline offers a great stop for pan dulce, tres leches and much more | Courtesy of El Bolillo

Hit the Houston Farmers Market & 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 any given Tuesday.

Four tropical drinks and a skull lined up in front of a green bush
Lei Low near Northside offers a tiki-fueled respite and laid-back vibes | Courtesy of Lei Low

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 a brewery is more your vibe, Bad Astronaut Brewery offers out-of-this-world beers with a curated guest tap list, wine, seltzers and non-alcoholic drinks.

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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 .