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 1990's 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. Tel: 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.
Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ross, ☎ (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.
Aurora Picture Show is 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 back drop, 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.
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Events & Festivals
Art Car Parade is 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.
Lower Westheimer, 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 (ie: downtown)
Magick Cauldron, 2424 Montrose Blvd (On Montrose Blvd. between Hyde Park and Fairview.), ☎ (713) 523-0069, . Mon.thru Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Sun: 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.. 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.
Spec's Liquor, 2410 Smith Street. Phone: 713-526-8787. Owned and operated by the same Houston family since 1962, Spec's is a true destination shopping experience. The Warehouse Store is the crown jewel of all Spec's locations. With over 40,000 labels of wines, spirits, liqueurs, beers, and finer foods, Spec's indeed fills all 80,000 square feet of selling space. The deli offers the finest in deli meats, pates, domestic and imported cheeses, fresh caviar, and a complete assortment of domestic and imported smoked fish and salmon make the selection limited only by your imagination.
Amy's Ice Cream, 3816 Farnham (Off Shepherd, just north of US-59), ☎ 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., 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., 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., 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, ☎ 713-520-7648 (fax: 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, ☎ 713-528-4976, . 10-10 Mo-Th, 10-11PM Fr-Sa, 11-9 Su. Authentic and tasty Greek food.
Dolce Vita,, 500 Westheimer Rd., 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., 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., ☎ 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., 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, ☎ 713-524-3839, . An American bistro with several different locations.
Da Marco, 1520 Westheimer Rd, ☎ 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, ☎ 713-523-3800, . Lunch: 11-2 Mo-Fr, Dinner: 6:00PM-11:00PM Mo-Th, 5:30PM-midnight Fr, 5:00PM-midnight Sa, 5:00PM-10:00PM 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, ☎ 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.
EJ's, 2517 Ralph St., ☎ 713-527-9071, http://www.ejsbar.com/. EJ's has long been a part of Houston's gay scene. It is located at the NE corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy behind Buffalo Exchange. The crowd tends to be local and blue-collar. A few women are seen, but it is primarily a spot for gay men. The main attractions are the cheap drinks (especially on the patio) and the gorgeous, huge outdoor area, which includes a beautiful wood balcony.
JR's, 808 Pacific St., ☎ 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., ☎ 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., ☎ 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., ☎ 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., ☎ 713-529-7623, . SouthBeach is Houston's premier gay dance club. World reknowned DJ's and special events pack the crowds into the late night hours, dancing to the hottest tracks in the gay club scene.
Tipsy Clover, 2416 Brazos, ☎ 7135240782. A nice Irish style pub full of attractive, affluent, young professionals.
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.
La Colombe d'Or, 3410 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-8923, . Intimately small luxury hotel in a 1920s era mansion. For the discriminating traveler without budgetary constraints.
Robin's Nest B&B, 4104 Greeley Street, ☎ 800-622-8343, . A quiet, snug little gem of a B&B, nestled only about two blocks off the main drag of Montrose Street. Pets accepted.