Neartown is a general name for the lively area that encompasses the neighborhoods just west of Downtown, bounded by I-10 to the north and US-59 to the south.
Both a street name and a neighborhood, Montrose is Houston's longtime home to a large portion of its LGBT community. Due mainly to gentrification, Montrose has slowly transformed from a quirky, artsy, affordable cluster of 1920's bungalows to a more upscale, commercial, artsy neighborhood (although there are still plenty of quirkiness and bungalows!). Montrose is one of the few places in the city where walking is common, but with an August average afternoon high temperature of 92 with 54% humidity, one might find a car the better solution during the summer.
Midtown experienced serious redevelopment in the 1990s and is now home to many of Houston's young professionals, newer restaurants and bars/clubs. The nightlife here is hip and very vibrant.
- Chinese Consulate Building, 3417 Montrose Blvd. The only Chinese consulate in the southern United States, this building has been magnificently constructed to reflect the architecture of China. Regular protests are held in front of the building by Tibet supporters living in Houston.
- Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, ☎ +1 713 525-9400. The private family collection of John and Dominique de Menil, consisting of 20th Century modern masterpieces, open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 11-7. The museum building is the centerpiece of a neighborhood featuring satellite gallery spaces and related cultural institutions set in a park-like setting. It boasts a large group of surrealist works and includes a special room devoted to the objects that the Surrealists themselves collected, which inspired many of the works on view. Free admission.
- Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ross, ☎ +1 713 524-9839. 10AM-6PM Daily. The Rothko Chapel, founded by John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A modern meditative environment inspired by the mural canvasses of American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, the Chapel welcomes thousands of visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world. free.
- Chapel of St. Basil, St. Thomas University, 1100 West Alabama. Built in 1997 by architect Philip Johnson, this is a very unusual building, with a big golden dome and a black belfry built into a wall. There is a labyrint next to the building. Generally, the campus area is not especially rich for architectural gems but is green and cheerful.
- Aurora Picture Show. A non-profit microcinema housed in a former church building in Houston, Texas.
- Buffalo Bayou Park, 18-3600 Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. With downtown's skyline as its backdrop, Houston's premier greenbelt of 124 acres winds from Shepherd Drive on the west to Bagby Street on the East End. Eleanor Tinsley Park, located within this greenway (Taft-Sabine), is the site of major Houston festivals and events, including the city's Fourth of July Fireworks. Bike and jogging trails run from Shepherd Dr. through downtown.
- Great Day Houston. Be part of the Great Day Houston LIVE studio audience.
Events & Festivals
- Art Car Parade. The worlds largest and oldest Art Car Parade. The event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000 plus live spectators and media from all over the world, making Houston ground zero of an international phenomenon.
- Greek Festival. Includes children's activities, an Athenian playground, food and entertainment.
Walk along Westheimer Blvd between Montrose Blvd. and Shepherd Dr. and browse the fashion resale shops, antique stores, and variety of eateries and watering holes. Empire Cafe is a popular brunch spot for local residents. Cafe Brasil serves salads, pizzas, coffees, alcoholic beverages in more in an urban European style cafe.
In reality, 'true' lower Westheimer embodies the now run down section of Westheimer between Montrose and Bagby (i.e.: downtown)
- Magick Cauldron, 2424 Montrose Blvd (On Montrose Blvd. between Hyde Park and Fairview.), ☎ +1 713 523-0069. Mon.thru Sat: 10AM-7PM Sun: noon-6PM. A one-stop shop for incense, crystals, magic candles, herbs, spell ingredients, pagan jewelry, and anything else regarding the supernatural one might need. Even if you're don't practice any magick you can still find a plethora of interesting things. Limited parking available.
- Amy's Ice Cream, 3816 Farnham (Off Shepherd, just north of US-59), ☎ +1 713 526-2697. 11:30-midnight Su-Th, 11:30-1AM Fr-Sa. Texas' own super premium, all natural ice cream. $5.
- Baba Yega's, 2607 Grant St, ☎ +1 713 522-0042. This cozy cafe, named after a Slavic witch, has been a favorite in the Montrose area since 1975. This converted bungalow has several indoor & outdoor areas for semi-private dining. Baba Yega has been honored repeatedly by local patrons and neighborhood publications for "the prettiest patio", "best vegetarian", "best sandwich", "best burger" & "best brunch". Sunday brunch always draw a large crowd.
- Barnaby's, 604 Fairview St, ☎ +1 713 522-0106. This local restaurant features some incredible, and TEXAS sized, salads as well as mouthwatering burgers and other entrees. Brunch menu on Sundays.
- Katz's, 616 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 521-3838. Crave blintzes at midnight or corned beef and cabbage at sunrise? This is your place. Cops from next door rub shoulders with families, politicos and all walks of colorful Montrose life at this brick-paved double-decker. Complete with subway artifacts and Grand Central Station-style handrails, it's city slick and open 24 hours a day.
- Mai's, 3403 Milam, ☎ +1 713 520-7648, fax: +1 713 523-9043. 10-3AM Su-Th, 10-4AM Fr-Sa. Vietnamese food, popular with the late night crowd. Burned down in Feb 2010 but currently rebuilding. $10.
- Niko Niko's, 2520 Montrose, ☎ +1 713 528-4976. 10-10 Mo-Th, 10-11PM Fr-Sa, 11-9 Su. Authentic and tasty Greek food.
- Dolce Vita, 500 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 520-8222. Marco Wiles (Da Marco restaurant) brings his penchant for pizza to this casual, welcoming restaurant. The simple yet intriguing menu is based on authentic thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas and Italian antipasti. From a rocket-hot wood-burning oven handmade in Rome, the pizzas arrive crispy and slightly charred around the edges. Close to 20 kinds of pizzas are offered, with toppings like proscuitto, arugula, wild mushrooms and fresh herbs. A varied list of small dishes rounds out the menu.
- El Tiempo 1308 Cantina, 1308 Montrose Blvd, ☎ +1 713 807-8996. The tasty, cooked from scratch Mexican food has been handed down, generation to generation in the Laurenzo family and is a staple in the Houston food scene. Great Grandmother Ninfa Laurenzo came to Houston in 1948 and started cooking almost immediately, spawning the huge chain of Ninfa's restaurants. 1308 Cantina puts together all of the best for an incredible taste of Tex-Mex cooking sure to leave your mouth watering. The fajitas and margaritas have been amazing the Montrose since the Cantina opened.
- Feast, 219 Westheimer Rd., ☎ +1 713 529-7788. Dinner M, W-Sa 5PM-10PM Su 5PM-9PM Lunch F, Sa 11AM-2:30PM. Feast is "Rustic European Fare" served in a cozy house (with a nice upstairs patio). The Brit owners and servers are friendly, the continental wine list is varied and interesting, and the ever-changing menu veers from adventurous (breaded pig tails with dipping sauce, anyone?) to comfy (lamb stew with dumplings). The 2- or 3-course prix-fixe lunch is a fantastic deal for what you get (dinner-sized portions!); there's also a "roast" lunch by reservation every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. $18-25 (Lunch $13-16 prix-fixe).
- Osaka, 515 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 533-9098. Some of the tastiest sushi in Houston can be found here at Osaka. The portions are generous and you may be happily surprised with something on the house.
- Ruggles Grill, 903 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 524-3839. An American bistro with several different locations.
- Da Marco, 1520 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 807-8857. One of Houston's best restaurants--known for great wine and Italian fare. Reservations required.
- Mark's American Cuisine, 1658 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 523-3800. Lunch: 11-2 Mo-Fr, Dinner: 6PM-11PM Mo-Th, 5:30PM-midnight Fr, 5PM-midnight Sa, 5PM-10PM Su. Award-winning four-star restaurant by owner and chef Mark Cox. Housed in an old church for a unique atmosphere. Reservations are required.
- Tony's, 3755 Richmond Ave, ☎ +1 713 622-6778. Houston's ultimate dining experience. Tony Vallone has set the tone for fine dining in Houston for decades. Parisian chef Olivier Ciesielski interprets contemporary cuisine with classic French care. Reservations required.
- JR's, 808 Pacific St, ☎ +1 713 521-2519. JR's is one of Houston's most established and popular gay bars. Located next to SouthBeach, many patrons begin their night here before heading to SouthBeach. The bar continues to be a favorite of Houston's gay community.
- Meteor, 2306 Genesee St, ☎ +1 713 521-0123. Meteor is a gay video bar located in Montrose near Midtown. The crowd tends to be well dressed, a mixture of young and formerly young, and fun.
- Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Dr, ☎ +1 713 521-0521. Live music on most nights, this British pub in the heart of Montrose attracts a diverse and fun crowd embodying the nighborhood in which it is located.
- Scott Gertner's Sky Bar, 3400 Montrose Blvd, ☎ +1 713 520-9688. This penthouse club is a hot spot in Houston's club scene, located at the top of a mid-rise in Montrose.
- South Beach, 810 Pacific St, ☎ +1 713 529-7623. SouthBeach is Houston's premier gay dance club. World renowned DJ's and special events pack the crowds into the late night hours, dancing to the hottest tracks in the gay club scene.
- West Alabama Icehouse, 1919 West Alabama. Open since 1928, the Icehouse is a bar that provides outdoor seating and free hot dogs. Because of the outdoor seating, people are allowed to bring their dogs, play horseshoes, and basketball. There is usually live country music on Friday nights.
- Poison Girl, 1641 Westheimer Rd, ☎ +1 713 527-9929. Poison girl is located off of Westheimer Rd. near the Dunlavy St. intersection. It has a dive bar atmosphere and offers quality drinks and great prices. The perfect place to go and hang out with friends.
- Anvil Bar and Refuge, 1424 Westheimer Rd., ☎ +1 713 523-1622. Anvil is one of the best bars in Houston. Their drinks are inspired by prohibition era concoctions. The mixologists (not bartenders) are talented at what they do and can create a drink with almost any flavor that you like.
- Boondocks, 1417 Westheimer Rd., ☎ +1 713 522-8500. Boondocks is a fun dive bar/dance club that plays music from recent top 40s hits to disco!
- Etro Lounge, 1424 Westheimer Rd., Ste A, ☎ +1 713 521-3876. If you like 80s and you like to dance this "dive lounge" is the perfect place to go and jam out with friends on the laser lit dance floor. Etro is located directly behind Anvil Bar and Refuge.
- Royal Oak Bar and Grill, 1318 Westheimer Rd., ☎ +1 281 974-4752. This laid back bar has a rustic interior and an excellent patio scene in front and out back. Valet parking is available or you can self park across the street. This is the perfect place to enjoy cold beers on a warm spring night or watch a game with friends.
- Hostelling International Houston (Morty Rich Hostel), 501 Lovett Blvd (at Whitney), ☎ +1 713 636-9776, e-mail: email@example.com. Located in a 1917 mansion built for one of Houston's former mayors. Regularly hosts pub crawls, museum tours, travel classes, and Texas sized BBQ's in the backyard. HI Houston is also the only hostel in the Hostelling International network with a swimming pool, to help escape those Texas summer days. Dorms $20+, privates $60.
- La Colombe d'Or, 3410 Montrose Blvd, ☎ +1 713 524-8923. Intimately small luxury hotel in a 1920s era mansion. For travelers without budgetary constraints.
- Robin's Nest B&B, 4104 Greeley St, toll-free: +1-800-622-8343. A quiet, snug little gem of a B&B, nestled only about two blocks off the main drag of Montrose Street. The innkeepers themselves speak a variety of languages which includes Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish. Pets accepted. $89-$240.
- modern b&b, 4003 Hazard St, ☎ +1 832 279-6367. This dramatic four-story bed and breakfast is a unique alternative with fab rooms, artists' works on walls, exercise equipment and shaded verandas that present panoramic views above the tree line. The innkeeper not only speaks English but German and Spanish as well. $100 - $225.
- Value Inn & R V Park, 9232 N. Hwy 146, Mont Belvieu, TX 77520, ☎ +1 281-576-6060. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. This hotel is in Baytown. Downtown Houston is about 30 mins drive. Small but clean rooms with free wi-fi. Continental breakfast is served for $10. $75 - $100.