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.
Downtown Houston from Westheimer
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 neighborhood. 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.
- Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W. Alabama, ☎ 713-529-4755, . Wed-Thu 11a-9p, Fri 11a-5p, Sat-Sun 11a-7p. Gallery with neat exhibitions of local photographers. In the back room there's a small library with a diverse collection of photography books that is open to visitors. Free. edit
- 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. Free admission.
- 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. edit
- 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.
- Great Day Houston-  Be part of the Great Day Houston LIVE studio audience.
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-  First weekend in October. 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.
- Lo-Fi Vintage, 1629 Westheimer Rd, ☎ (346) 980-6289, . Very cool/well-curated vintage, mostly 80s/90s pieces. edit
- 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. edit
- 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.
- Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth St,, ☎ 713-526-9272, . Record store that has a large selection of rare vinyl records and used DVD's. They also occasionally host local music performances as well. edit
- Soundwaves, 3509 Montrose Blvd, ☎ 713-520-9283, . Houston's largest indie-music store and also the largest surf shop in the state. edit
- Hat Store, 5587 Richmond Ave, ☎ 713-780-2480, . cowboy hat maker. edit
- 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.
- Brasil Cafe, 2604 Dunlavy St, ☎ (713) 528-1993, . Great spot for brunch, dinner, coffee, drinks. They have interesting salads, pizza, and lots of other options - seriously, it's all good. Also a good environment for getting some work done. The back patio is the best place to hang out. While you're waiting for your food, check out the art gallery next door (enter from back patio). Also hosts screenings, live music, and other community events. edit
- Chapultepec Lupita, 813 Richmond Ave, ☎ 713-522-2365. Mexican restaurant that is open 24 hours. Great for satisfying 2am enchilada and Michelada cravings. edit
- Empire Cafe, 1732 Westheimer, . Popular local brunch spot. edit
- Hobbit Cafe, 2243 Richmond Ave, ☎ 713-581-8483, . A Lord of the Rings inspired restaurant known for its vegetarian options. Old-school hippie style food in very generous portions. edit
- La Mexicana Restaurant, 1018 Fairview St,, ☎ 713-521-0963, . Once a little Mexican grocery store, La Mexicana started serving tacos and gradually turned exclusively to the restaurant business. In addition to having authentic Mexican dishes such as nopalitos en salsa chipotle (cactus leaves cooked in chipotle chile sauce) they also have old Tex-Mex standby's such as fajitas. edit
- Lankford Grocery & Market, 88 Dennis St, ☎ 713-522-9555, . One of the best burger joints in Houston. edit
- 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. $10. edit
- Niko Niko's, 2520 Montrose, ☎ 713-528-4976, . 10-10 Mo-Th, 10-11PM Fr-Sa, 11-9 Su. Authentic and tasty Greek food. edit
- Pho Saigon Vietnamese, 2808 Milam St, ☎ 713-524-3734, . Vietnamese noodle joint known for their pho. edit
- SweetCup Gelato & Sorbet Originale, 3939 Montrose (th of US-59), ☎ 713-526-2697, . 12:30-10PM Su/Tu-Th, 12:30-11PM Fr-Sa. Scoop shop for colorful, housemade gelato flavors, along with Italian coffees & teas. $. edit
- Tacos A Go Go, 3704 Main St, ☎ 713-807-822, . Great place for cheap, homemade, and delicious Tex-Mex (breakfast is served all day). edit
- The Breakfast Klub, 3711 Travis St, ☎ 713-528-4976, . Great place for soul food/southern style breakfast featuring down-home offerings such as biscuits and gravy; pork chops and eggs; and catfish and grits. edit
- Cafe Brussels, 1718 Houston Avenue (Southeast corner of Houston and Crockett), ☎ 713-222-6996, . M-S 11AM-2PM & 5:30PM-10PM, SU 11AM-3PM. A great casual café featuring Belgian food including mussels, Waterzooi and what may be the best Belgian Frites (twice cooked fries) in Houston. An extensive list of Belgian beers all served in the proper glasses. $7-$30. edit
- 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 prosciutto, arugula, wild mushrooms and fresh herbs. A varied list of small dishes rounds out the menu.
- El Tiempo 1308 Cantina, 1308 Montrose Blvd. and 322 Westheimer Rd., 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.
- Indika, 516 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-524-2170, . Restaurant owned by chef Anita Jaisinghani, specializing in contemporary Indian fare. edit
- 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.
- 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.
- Brennan's of Houston, 3300 Smith, ☎ 713-522-9711, . An outpost of the famous New Orleans restaurant, and is a perennial favorite on on most local "Top Restaurant" lists. They are known for serving New Orleans Creole style specialties such as rouxless seafood gumbo and turtle soup, and, of course, bananas foster. Reservations are required. edit
- Da Marco, 1520 Westheimer Rd, ☎ 713-807-8857, . One of Houston's best restaurants--known for great wine and Italian fare. Reservations required. edit
- Hugo's, 1600 Westheimer Rd,, ☎ 713-524-7744, . Restaurant serving interior Mexican cuisine with a contemporary twist.Reservations are required. edit
- 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. edit
- 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. edit
- Uchi, 904 Westheimer Rd, ☎ (713) 522-4808, . A Houston outpost of the famous Austin sushi bar/restaurant known for their eccentric twist on Japanese fare. edit
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. edit
- 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 neighborhood in which it is located.
- Poison Girl, 1641 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 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. edit
- Lola's Depot, 2327 Grant St., ☎ 713-528-8342. Lola's Depot is a classic dive bar about a block east of Montrose Blvd at the corner of Fairview and Grant, occupying a small purple house. It is a dirty dive bar with a long underground history that offers great prices on strong drinks, kitschy decor, pool tables, and a great outdoor patio. Good start to many a late night adventure. edit
- Anvil Bar and Refuge, 1424 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 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. edit
- The Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-528-9805. The Hay Merchant takes beer very seriously. It's a craft food and beer joint with 80 rotating taps, including 5 cask engines, as well as a bar food menu. edit
- Boondocks, 1417 Westheimer Rd., ☎ 713-522-8500, . Boondocks is a fun dive bar/dance club that plays music from recent top 40s hits to disco! edit
- Etro Lounge, 1424 Westheimer Rd., Ste A, ☎ (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. edit
- Southside Espresso, 904-C Westheimer Rd, ☎ (713) 942-9990, . Behind Uchiko. One of the best independent coffee houses in the city. edit
- Hostelling International Houston (Morty Rich Hostel), 501 Lovett Blvd (at Whitney), ☎ +1 713 636-9776 ([email protected]), . Kitchen facilities, Internet access, and lockers available. Swimming pool in the back. Dorms $20+, privates $60. (29.743307,-95.387541) edit
- 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. edit
- Robin's Nest B&B, 4104 Greeley Street, ☎ +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. edit
- modern b&b, 4003 Hazard Street, ☎ 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. edit
- Value Inn & R V Park, 9232 N. Hwy 146, Mont Belvieu, TX 77520, ☎ 281-576-6060, . checkin: 1 PM; checkout: 11 AM. This hotel is based in Baytown. Downtown Houston is about 30 mins drive away. Small but clean rooms with free wi-fi. Continental breakfast is served for $10. $75 - $100. edit