Houston Stories and Tips

Stop #2: The Montrose Area

Cafe Artiste Photo, Houston, Texas

After visiting the Museum District, we continued down Montrose towards the various Montrose area locations on our list. We nearly passed the first, the Houston Public Library's Freed-Montrose branch at 4100 Montrose, before even noticing it was there! An interesting fact about this library, listed on our clues sheet, was that "libraries are considered temples of knowledge. In this case, it’s quite literal. The complex now houses the Freed-Montrose branch of the Houston Public Library used to be the Central Church of Christ." Fortunately for me, since I was passing the library when we noticed it, we didn't actually have to stop there. The ivy creeping up the red brick walls, the answer to "what is covering the exterior walls of the library?", was definitely noticeable from our side of the road and needed no further inspection.

After a bit of a wander around the University of St. Thomas, which I found interesting since my cousin graduated from there, yet I'd never set foot on the campus, we found another location - the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum. Located at 4011 Yupon St, "this free museum houses the only collection of intact Byzantine frescoes in the western hemisphere. These 13th century works were stolen from a Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus, cut into pieces, and smuggled by thieves in the 1980s. The Menil Foundation, with the approval from the Church of Cyprus, the original owner, acquired the frescoes and restored them." I was really interested in seeing the frescoes, but since I was the driver, I didn't get to get out of the car. After seeing them, my friends were left in awe, so this was another location that I marked as having to see before leaving Houston.

Closeby, at 1601 W. Main St, was Café Artiste. The café is definitely noticeable, since a vivid mural surrounds the parking lot outside. The café looked like a good place to study, and it had much more personality to it than a Starbucks. Plus, they sell much more than just coffee; you can choose between burgers, plate-sized pancakes, and their special "Egg Orleans", which is their version of eggs Benedict.

When we wound our way back to the nearest main intersection, with Richmond, we noticed our next stop just across the road. Lucky Burger stuck out, a bit like a sore thumb, on the corner, and as we drew closer, we realized it was a place we would never eat at. It looked dirty, small, and the big container behind the building that greeted us as we turned into the parking lot read "grease disposal." Even though they do have free delivery within 2 miles of the restaurant, the sight of it was enough to make us double- and triple-think that option. Nancy ran in, found out that there were in fact 10 sea creatures above the counter, ran back out, and we happily put it in the rearview mirror.

Our next stop along Richmond was the adorable Hobbit Café, which is hidden behind Blue Fish Sushi. There is no way I can beat the description provided on our clues sheet, which told us that "Like a sleepy woodland cottage, Hobbit Cafe is nestled amongst the branches of a huge oak tree. Wooden furnishings and earth tones warm the modest interior, where maps of Middle Earth and 'Lord of the Rings' artwork enliven the walls. The low ceiling, candles and small dining rooms give this cozy cafe a true Hobbit feel. Hobbit Cafe serves health-conscious, hippie food for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. So next time you’re headed out to destroy the One Ring, stop by here, whether it be for second-breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, or dinner." The café really is an adorable little establishment (even if the parking lot is tiny and full of potholes), and it is yet another place I plan on visiting again soon.

From here, we made our way to a few other locations, like the Buffalo Exchange (one of the first consignment stores) and Kenneally's Irish Pub before heading towards the most interesting places we came across in our search, all of which were located in the neighborhood of The Heights. I have described these in my next entries, "Museums in the Heights" and "The Beer Can House."

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