Valentine’s Day Is Almost Here: 8 Nontraditional Date Ideas In The Neighborhood
It’s easy to come up with romantic dinner ideas, especially in Montrose. Plus, media outlets like the Houston Press have already highlighted gems like Mark’s American Cuisine, Triniti, Mockingbird Bistro, America’s River Oaks, Au Petit Paris, BCN Taste & Tradition and Da Marco. So, here are some quirky alternatives that could prove romantic in their own way come February 14. Bonus: This year, Valentine’s falls on a Saturday, which means more options (not just dinners and evening activities) throughout the day.
Baby Barnaby’s 602 Fairview + Half Price Books 1011 Westheimer
Just because it’s Valentine’s doesn’t mean an expensive dinner is in order. A nice breakfast out with your better half can be just as thoughtful, especially considering the wide-ranging options on Baby Barnaby’s menu and the fact they’re open on Saturdays until 2 p.m. Afterwards, use part of that caffeine buzz and waffle euphoria to fuel a trip to Half Price Books to browse the shelves and enjoy a few more moments of quietude with a loved one. Extra: Go home together, curl up on the couch and crack open your new purchases for an afternoon of lazy reading.
El Real Tex-Mex 1201 Westheimer + Rothko Chapel 3900 Yupon
Margaritas and meditation don’t usually go together — but hey — this is Montrose and anything is possible. Grab a Tex-Mex lunch plate of puffy tacos or cheese enchiladas, enjoy an afternoon margarita and before you’re tempted to take a nap, head on over to the Rothko Chapel. In contrast to the boisterous restaurant scene, the Rothko will fill you both with peace and wonder after sitting a few moments on the benches inside. Contemplate your love for one another, or your mutual love of margaritas. Either way, it’s an afternoon of culture from one extreme to the other. Tip: Brunch is offered at El Real from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays with items like bacon enchiladas (!!) and more.
Mandell Park Mandell at Richmond+ Hay Merchant 1100 Westheimer
If bike riding is an activity that appeals to both parties, hop on and head to the newly unveiled Mandell Park for an exploration of the manicured green space and community garden. When it’s time to head on, Hay Merchant is only 1.2 miles away — about a 7-minute bike ride — for some tasty brews and delectable bar food. No worries: Come in your biking clothes, Hay Merchant is known for its support of the cycling community and won’t mind one bit. In fact, they offer an ongoing $3 special on Karbach brews as part of their “One Less Kar(bach)” program.
Blacksmith 1018 Westheimer + La Guadalupana 2109 Dunlavy + Menil Park 1450 Branard
Step 1: Hop in line at Blacksmith. Order your coffee or tea of choice (a flat white is never a bad choice) to-go. Step 2: Run inside La Guadalupana. Pick up a handful of their fresh-baked pastries like pan dulces or almond croissants. Step 3: Whisk your date away to Menil Park. Throw down a soft blanket under a beautiful tree. Step 4: Enjoy the morning. Extra: Wander into the Menil’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel, which has just been reopened to the public after almost three years in transition.
River Oaks Theatre 2009 W. Gray + Backstreet Cafe 1103 S. Shepherd
Head to a matinee at the River Oaks Theatre, which is one of the best places to experience indie and arthouse films in Houston. (Bonus: A full bar inside offers plenty of tasty options to enhance any screening.) After, head on over to the patio just up the road at Backstreet Cafe — which sports one of the best courtyards in town — for some shareable plates and post-movie libations, wine or some expertly crafted mocktails. In both cases, you should beat the crowds and be home in time for a quiet night in. Hint: Parking for Backstreet is usually easiest on W. Clay if you want to avoid the valet.
Antiquing 1700-1900 Westheimer + Empire Cafe 1732 Westheimer
If shopping is a mutual pleasure, Montrose has a nicely concentrated corridor of antique shops along Westheimer between Shepherd and Dunlavy. Find a parking spot and walk your way up and down the blocks visiting Old Blue House Antique Shop (1719 Westheimer), BJ Oldies Antiques (1726 Westheimer) and Kay O’Toole Antiques & Eccentricities (1921 Westheimer). After all that shopping, you might be a bit peckish. Luckily, Empire Cafe is within walking distance of them all. Order a giant slice of their famous cake to share with your Valentine. Don’t miss: A tasty shot of espresso, cappuccino, latte or Americano to go along with dessert.
Zalla Massage 1411 Haddon + Beet Box Blend Bar 1909 W. Gray
If relaxation is what you both crave, schedule an appointment at Zalla Massage. A full 60-minute massage for the both of you starts at $190, and is done at the same time in the same room with two therapists and two tables. After you both step back into to the harshness of reality, continue your relaxing date with a visit to Beet Box Blend Bar for some healthy, refreshing treats that won’t weigh you down. The “Signature Green” combines kale, spinach, carrot, pineapple, banana, apple, parsley, lemon juice and water while the “Matcha Libre” gives a kick with kale, banana, avocado, dates, matcha green tea, almonds, hemp seeds and unsweetened almond milk. Why not: Add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to any of Beet Box’s blends to put a little extra pep in your step.
Classical Theatre Company 4617 Montrose + Camerata 1834 Westheimer
It just so happens that one of the newest residents of Montrose — the Classical Theatre Company — will have a performance of The Speckled Band: An Adventure of Sherlock Holmes the evening of February 14. Snuggle up with your date to watch a classic mystery unfold at the hands of some of Houston’s most talented actors and then head on over to Camerata for post-show sips and snacks of cured meats and cheeses. Just in case: If you can’t make the 8 p.m. showing on February 14, there’s also a February 15 matinee at 2:30 p.m.