For decades Montrose has drawn creatives, bohemians, members of the LGBTQ community, and countless others who did not feel at home in other parts of Houston and the traditional Southern culture. Though an increase in diversity has lead to the blending of communities and reduced the need for such a protected space, the creative spirit and distinctive vibe of the Montrose neighborhood certainly still lingers. We’ve cultivated a list of some amazing places to visit to get a sense of the district’s character, both old and new.
The Stages Repertory Theatre began in 1978 in the basement of a downtown brewery. In 1985 it moved to its modern location, the two-theatre space located in the historic Star Engraving Building. They offer a season of contemporary plays, educational programs, and community outreach. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance just finished showing this month and Always…Patsy Cline will be showing for most of July and August.
Rudyard’s British Pub is known to bring in a variety of musical talent on the second-floor stage, with genres ranging from punk, metal, indie, and pop. They also host a number of comedy and spoken word events, and have regular open mic nights. It’s been the “living room of Houston’s Montrose since 1978”.
The Pride Wall HTX mural was painted by a collection of artists just days after the June 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The artists and local businesses wanted to show their support for the LGBTQ community after the terrible attack. A year later the mural still stands at 1641 Westheimer as a symbol of support, equality, and pride for the community.
Founded in 1987, Da Camera strives to create concerts that are designed to attract new listeners. They embody a variety of musical styles, but the program is especially committed to bringing awareness and understanding of American music through their jazz series. They continue to collaborate with local talent and institutions, as well as artists on a national and international level. Build-your-own or pre-packaged subscriptions are available for shows throughout the season.
Located in the 1600 block of Westheimer, Poison Girl is an awesome local dive with pinball machines, an eclectic patio, and an affinity for whiskey. Be sure to say hi to the giant Kool-aid Man and Sour Patch Kid that adorn the backyard. Smoking is also allowed in the patio area.
The Hay Merchant runs a daily happy hour from 3:00 to 6:30 pm and over 30 beers are only $3 each! Craft beer and food is the specialty, so stop by for a cold one or some delicious family recipes. If you love learning about craft beers in the best way possible (by drinking them), you can register for the Mud Turtle Program. There is even a fun element of competition involved.
Marfreless has been an iconic part of Houston nightlife since the 1970s. It started with the intention of being the ultimate no-frills establishment, a reaction to the bar scene of the time. They had no theme, no TVs, no games, and no dance floor. After some renovations, it opened again under new management but has kept the iconic blue door it was known for.
Modern Montrose Fare
Ship and Shield is a fairly new addition to the neighborhood and brings a Viking vibe and Scandinavian food with it. Themed decor includes the bar, which is an old Viking ship, the table tops made out of shields, and a sizable hand-carved dragon head. The large patio is accompanied by outdoor games: two chess boards, a Bocce ball court, and Hnefatafl—the Viking Kings game.
The Pit Room made the Texas Monthly’s 2017 list of Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas, just one year after the restaurant opened. Everything is made from scratch and the restaurant is family owned and operated. This handcrafted barbecue may cost a little extra, but it has the quality to make it well worth it.
Piggy’s Kitchen is another great new spot located in the River Oaks section of Montrose. Their regular menu has pizza, a selection of sandwiches, and appetizers like confit chicken wings and hot dip with pork belly. They also serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 9 am, and feel free to bring your pooch along—the spacious patio is dog-friendly.
We hope you enjoy exploring this amazing district! If you’d like to read more about the history of Montrose, check out Part I here.