Ultimate Montrose Bucket List Part III: 100 Things To Experience In The Neighborhood
Montrose has a lot to offer, but have you experienced it all? From arts and culture to food and beverage, to interesting annual events and quirky shops, we have handpicked a selection of experiences that we believe define the neighborhood; a “bucket” list of sorts. We’ve divided the list into four segments, grouped by categories that hopefully make it easier to explore according to your interests.
Here’s our third in the series, covering annual events, LGBT interests and nightlife. Stay tuned for the final installment next week and don’t forget to check out previously published Part I and Part II of the list.
51. Walk, bike, skate and play in the middle of Westheimer during Cigna Sunday Streets. / Westheimer
It’s the one Sunday of the year where you can safely stroll down the middle of Westheimer in the heart of Montrose for several hours with no risk of being hit by a car. The streets are shut off to automobile traffic and opened wide for cycling, skating, running, playing, walking, dancing and whatever other activities don’t involve motorized wheels. It’s a great way to explore the neighborhood and enjoy a day with the family. Dates will be announced for the next Sunday Streets early next year.
52. Join the phenomenon known as the Montrose Crawl and don’t forget to dress up. / Multiple Locations
Watch the streets of Montrose fill with costumed revelers each Halloween night as the annual Montrose Crawl encompasses the neighborhood. Crawlers are encouraged to stop at various designated bars and restaurants for staggered costume contests and general merriment. The event itself is free of charge and crawlers enjoy drink specials throughout the night at participating businesses, all of which also donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds to the Houston Area Women’s Center.
53. Eat, play, dance and shop at The Original Houston Greek Festival. / 3511 Yoakum
Enjoy the festive culture of Greece for one full weekend each year as the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church turns into a lively fairground every October. The food is worth a visit alone: Gyros, Greek salad, loukoumades (Greek-style donut holes soaked in a honey syrup and fried fresh to order), stuffed grape leaves and more. The kids area is enough to keep the little ones entertained for hours, plus there’s a stage with live music that has a dance floor with plenty of room. While you’re there, take a tour of the cathedral and make sure to catch one of the traditional Greek dancing performances.
54. Stroll East Montrose and take a peek inside some of the historic homes. / Multiple Locations
Each year the East Montrose Civic Association hosts a home tour and art walk. The tickets are affordable, the weather is usually pleasant (it’s in April) and looking inside someone else’s house is always a bit of a thrill. The last tour featured six homes built between 1890 and the early 1900s as well as gourmet food tastings at each stop. Art studios in the area are also open for the public to peruse, making it a mix of arts and culture with something for everyone.
55. Celebrate your ancestors (and eat a delicious meal) during Dia de los Muertos at Cuchara. / 214 Fairview
This Mexico City Bistro is festive at all times, but it turns into one of Houston’s most authentic Dia de los Muertos celebrations one day of the year. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in traditional Mexican attire to enjoy cocktails, pan de muerto, live entertainment and of course, some of the best Mexican food in town (not to be confused with Tex-Mex). Just the decorations alone are worth a look, which include papier-mâché catrinas — vibrantly adorned skeleton figures — as well as colorful altars honoring those that have gone before us.
56, 57. Dispose of your electronics responsibly at the annual Montrose District recycling event. Then get ready to celebrate the season with your neighbors at the Montrose District holiday party. / Multiple Locations
Twice a year, the Montrose District hosts an electronics-focused recycling event to help both residents and business owners responsibly dispose of unwanted equipment including items like computers, hard drives, cell phones, printers, televisions and more. There’s also a shredding truck on hand to destroy sensitive documents — all for free. The next opportunity will be in late October. Stay tuned for details. And we’d love to finish out the year with you at our neighborhood holiday party, where the winner of the decorating contest is announced and a good time is had by all. Stay tuned to MontroseDistrict.org for details.
58. Get ready to rodeo with a pair of boots from the Texas Junk Company. / 215 Welch
Why buy a pair of brand new cowboy boots when you can find a pair that have already been properly worn in? It takes some effort to shop at Texas Junk Company before rodeo season, but it’s worth the time invested. First, check their Facebook page to make sure they’re open (they keep irregular hours), second, brave the crowds that will inevitably be shopping for their own pair and third, make sure you bring cash or checks. They don’t accept credit cards. Fourth: Enjoy your authentic pair of affordable, worn-in cowboy boots ready to walk the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo grounds all day long.
59. Get dolled up, grab a date and dance the night away at the annual Hatch Prom. / 401 Branard
The LGBT community is encouraged to rock the dance floor at The Montrose Center and enjoy the evening. It’s a judgement-free zone to celebrate one of the American rites of passage: The prom. The cost is $25 a person at the door, though youths age 20 and under are admitted free of charge. It’s not only a good time, but also the largest fundraiser for Hatch Youth, an organization “dedicated to empowering Houston-area Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Allied adolescents, ages 13-20.” Look for it in early summer.
60, 61, 62, 63. Enjoy the gayborhood with a drag show at TC’s, JR’s, F Bar or the “showers” at Meteor. / Multiple Locations
No doubt Montrose is the premier neighbor for nightlife in the city, but it’s the crown jewel when it comes to LGBT-focused bars and clubs. Just a handful of places to catch some of the most riveting entertainment in the form of drag shows include TC’s Houston’s Premier Showbar, JR’s Bar & Grill and F Bar. If go-go dancers moving to the music onstage, while getting sprayed by water is more your thing, check out Meteor for a wild, but fun night on the town.
64, 65. Shop for leather accessories at Black Hawk Leather and enjoy one of Texas’ oldest gay bars: RIPCORD. / 715 Fairview
In keeping with the LGBT haunts, RIPCORD has been a part of the Montrose community for over 30 years. Known in the community as a “leather bar,” it also has an adjacent leather shop where folks can shop for new leather items to wear at the bar, showing them off over drinks and dancing.
66. Get tested at Legacy Health Community Services. / 1415 California
Regardless of your sexuality, part of being a responsible adult is making sure you keep yourself and your partners healthy. This community health center has been a cornerstone of Montrose, providing comprehensive care and specialized HIV/AIDS treatments — including the first step of getting tested. In this case, knowledge truly is power. Power over your own health.
67. Let your freak flag fly at Numbers. / 300 Westheimer
As welcoming to all walks of life as the neighborhood it occupies, Numbers is a nightclub that has many stories to tell. In fact, it’s so unique to Houston, it inspired a documentary, which is currently in production. Its stage has welcomed such legendary acts as the Village People, Grace Jones, Grand Master Flash, Iggy Pop, The Cure, The Flaming Lips, Erasure and so many more. It must be experienced to be understood.
68. Sip some bourbon at Poison Girl./ 1641 Westheimer
It’s a place where pinball, patio, dive bar and bourbon lovers alike find a home and a seat at the bar. This laid-back institution is a great stop for your first, or last drink of the evening, a game of pinball and on certain nights of the month, a public poetry performance (the Poison Pen Reading Series). What’s not to like?
69, 70. Stop by Rudyard’s for BooTown’s Grown-up Storytime or open mic night. / 2010 Waugh
No one really needs an excuse to stop by Rudyard’s; a chill pub with plenty of space upstairs, downstairs and on the patio for folks to hang out with a pint of craft beer. However, some of the recurring events will have you rolling with laughter, enticing you to become a regular. Among those are the often hilarious “Grown-up Storytime” evenings moderated and produced by non-profit theater company, BooTown (third Tuesday of every month at 8 and 10 p.m.) as well as the entertaining open mic comedy nights Mondays starting at 7:30 p.m.
71. Finally get inked somewhere on Westheimer. / Multiple Locations
If there’s one thing Montrose has no shortage of, it’s tattoo parlors. Choose from multiple studios along the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Westheimer, including Texas Tattoo Emporium, Scorpion Studios, Shaw’s Tattoo Studio, Gaslight Gallery, 713 Tattoo Parlor, Houston Ink Society Tattoo Co. and more. If commitment is a problem for you — no worries — they all do piercings if something a little less permanent is more appealing.
72, 73. Discover a new dive bar. / Multiple Locations
There’s a time and place for artfully crafted cocktails at places like Anvil Bar & Refuge, but there are some evenings when nothing but a dive bar will do. The je ne sais quoi atmosphere and worn-in feel of places like Catbirds (which proudly flaunts its status as a “dive”) and Lola’s Depot (inexpensive drinks, a patio and a jukebox) are the ultimate remedies for such evenings.
74, 75. Refuel with some late night falafel at Al’s Quick Stop or grillades and grits at BB’s Cafe. / Multiple Locations
A night of revelry in the neighborhood helps work up an appetite, and thankfully there are some late-night eateries looking to satisfy your hunger. The unassuming Al’s Quick Stop is famous for their Mediterranean snacks like gyros and falafel, served in large portions for small prices. If a sit-down meal is more in order, BB’s Cafe serves up Tex-Cajun comfort food 24 hours a day, including hearty breakfasts.