5 Must Do Things in Montrose

Stop by one of Houston's OG burger spots at Lankford Grocery in Montrose | Courtesy of Lankford Grocery

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

Photo: Kevin Keim; courtesy of Menil Collection

Experience the arts

This exciting neighborhood is bursting with artsy and cultural experiences.

Catch live theatrical performances at the two-story Stages Repertory Theatre, or check out local and nationally touring comedians at the Riot Comedy Club upstairs in Rudyard’s Pub.

At Art League Houston, you’ll encounter diverse and dynamic contemporary visual art that will make you think.

And of course, you can’t miss the mecca of all things artistic, the 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.

A bar interior with patrons served by bartenders
Courtesy of Anvil Bar

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.

Kick off a crawl from 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.

An outdoor patio with red picnic tables and a covered row of seating
Courtesy of West Alabama Ice House

Finish up your crawl by 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.

Courtesy of Lankford Grocery

Eat, eat & 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.

A covered patio with leafy green plants and people dining
Courtesy of Brasil Cafe

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 Clark’s Oyster Bar 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.

Bowls of ramen
Courtesy of Ramen Tatsuya

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, 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.

Courtesy of Pavement

Peruse antiques, thrift & 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, Pavement and Leopard Lounge are just a few of the all-stars. Venture deeper into the ‘hood and you’ll find shops like The Guild Shop and Reeves Art & Design.

Courtesy of Black Hole Coffee House

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.

Courtesy of Canary Coffee

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, and Fix Coffeebar; the people watching and camaraderie at Black Hole; the laidback atmosphere at Agora; and capps from Mercantile.

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Brooke Viggiano
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 .