Imagine Austin’s cool older brother who fondly remembers the good-old counterculture days and was hip before you were even born: that’s the Montrose are of Houston. Often called Bohemian and liberal, Montrose may be Houston’s most interesting, eclectic, neighborhood.
The home of pirate radio in the 70s and the now-defunct internet radio Earthwire (2000-2002, RIP), Montrose today has gentrified somewhat from its earlier, grittier days. But a few classic homes remain, mixing the newer townhomes and high-rises to become the sixth most-expensive ZIP code in Texas.
Visit & learn
The Museum District lies in the general Montrose area and boasts several places to satisfy your arts and culture cravings—right in your own neighborhood.
There’s no place in Houston—and probably no place in Texas—As calmly fascinating as the Rothko Chapel. Designed by the famous Mark Rothko, the chapel itself is a place to silently meditate or look at the stark Rothko murals—no cameras, food, or talking allowed. Outside sits a pond with Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, which is dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. Events like community forums, music concerts, and spiritual gatherings also happen throughout the year. People of all faiths—or no faith—are welcome. Free, open 365 days a year.
After you’ve centered yourself at the Rothko, walk next door and take in the Menil Collection. Exhibits include art from Africa, the Americas, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Islands. Plus work from medieval, Byzantine, and even Paleolithic times. Enjoy afternoon tea, Sunday Suppers, or Thursday night wine tastings at the bistro. Free (Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm. Main museum building closed through summer 2018; re-opens in fall 2018. Green spaces, the research library, and other buildings will remain open.)
Finally, the Houston Center of Photography offers rotating exhibitions (free to the public) plus photography classes, workshops, and events. Upcoming exhibitions (May-July 2018) include Carolyn Drake, David Hilliard, and Francis Almendarez. Open Wednesday through Sunday.
Biscuit isn’t the place for a cozy brunch; rather, they offer ways to make your home beautiful and cozy. From Red Katie Dot Pajamas ($61) to French linen napkins ($14 and up) to heirloom and embroidered bed lines made in the USA ($200 and up), you’ll find lots of ways to feather your nest. Baby and child gifts include crib sheets ($60), stuffed animals ($12.50 and up), and kids books. Closed Sundays; online ordering available.
For unique local artist offerings, stop by Space Montrose. Jewelry, prints, stationery, ceramics, soaps, and more are available at all price levels. Space Montrose houses made-in-the-USA gifts by Brian McClaskey, Graham Francoise, and Jermaine Rogers. Open seven days a week; online shopping available.
Riel promises “globally inspired Gulf Coast cuisine” from Executive Chef Ryan Lachaine. Lachaine draws not only from local ingredients but also from his Ukrainian and French-Canadian heritage. Start with small plates like Duxberry oysters with coconut lime granite ($16) or roasted carrots with cardamom honey, raisins, hazelnut, and yogurt. Then move on to “not-so-small plates” meant to be shared by 2-4 people: caviar service ($140), duck breast with sweet corn puree, tasso, snow peas, and turnip ($34), or grilled eggplant with coconut ginger broth, beech mushrooms, soba noodles, radish, and Thai basil ($18). Dinner and happy hour only. Closed Sundays.
For a creative, fun breakfast in a college-town atmosphere, try Snooze. Morning cocktails like the Boss Hog (bacon-infused bourbon and house bloody mix) or a Hill Country Mule (gin, ginger brew, grapefruit juice, fresh lime, agave) will wake you up and prepare you for entrees like the Spring Harvest Benny: cheesy quinoa cakes topped with egg, smoked cheddar hollandaise, watercress, zucchini, and tomatoes in a Dijon citronette. Sandwiches, pancakes, and French toast round out the sweeter side. Open daily 6:30am-2:30pm.
In Texas and elsewhere, there’s Tex-Mex cuisine, then there’s authentic Mexican cuisine. Hugo’s Executive Chef Hugo Ortega is aiming for the latter version, striving to honor his Mexican heritage, and winning awards—including the James Beard Foundation Award in 2017—along the way. Adventurous eaters can take the plunge with Cabrito (roasted goat meat with nopales asados), while vegetarians enjoy their own menu with several different tacos, cauliflower soup, and charred vegetables with quinoa. For everyone else, seafood (ceviche Acapulqueno, pan-seared scallops in mole), tacos (pollo, skirt steak, duck, lobster, and others), and much more await. Open for happy hour, dinner, lunch, Saturday brunch, and Sunday brunch buffet.