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Downtown Restaurant And Bar Scene - More Coming


HeightsGuy

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There looks to be a new restaurant or bar called "Bunga Low" where Live sports bar was at Main and Preston. There is some build-out happening in the opposite corner of the building too, but I don't know if it's part of the space since I never went inside live when it was open. 2nd floor patio looks re-done as well. 

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Edited by jermh
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I also noticed new doors and work being done on the old TOC bar building (101 Travis across from Bayou Lofts) a few weeks ago. I asked the owner of One Arm Scissor up the block if he knew what was going in there, and he thought it was another bar.

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Edited by jermh
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The District Bistro (Texas and Main) has re-opened as the District Market - and now is a pretty stocked mini-grocery store with a premium version of just about every pantry staple, along with a freezer and fridge section.  Great alternative to the "What can I get at CVS?" option for the neighborhood.

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  • 3 weeks later...
18 minutes ago, j_cuevas713 said:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/food-culture/restaurants-bars/article/Downtown-s-Jackson-Street-BBQ-closes-after-8-16991784.php

They chose not to renew their lease with Jim Crane who owns the property. The owner said he expects Crane to level the property. 

Also in that article:   the resurrection of his [Floyd's] El Real Tex-Mex brand which will open a breakfast and lunch restaurant in the downtown tunnel system at 1100 Louisiana later this month. The new El Real will serve a menu drawn from bestsellers from the restaurant that once ruled on Westheimer in Montrose. Coming in June on the street level at 1100 Louisiana will be Floyd’s Real Agave Lounge, an upscale bar with its own food menu.

Edited by Houston19514
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  • 1 month later...
1 hour ago, rechlin said:

Not really a restaurant/bar, though it provided easy access to some of the restaurants in the tunnels, but the CVS at Main Street Square closed about a week ago.  Signage is all gone already too.

April 4 was the last day, according to the manager I spoke with a couple of days earlier. 

There was an (un)helpful sign on the door for a couple of weeks: "We're closing!  Your prescriptions will be moved to ________________."  The line was never filled in.  Glad I wasn't counting on that CVS!

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22 hours ago, editor said:

April 4 was the last day, according to the manager I spoke with a couple of days earlier. 

There was an (un)helpful sign on the door for a couple of weeks: "We're closing!  Your prescriptions will be moved to ________________."  The line was never filled in.  Glad I wasn't counting on that CVS!

As I recall, the sign facing the inside of the door was filled in with a location, but the sign facing outside was not.  I thought it was strange, too.

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On 4/19/2022 at 1:27 PM, Nate99 said:

That block is looking rough. The old Payless Shoes location, Bombay Pizza, the Dollar store that burned and now the CVS are empty. The AT&T/Verizon store might be gone too.   

I won't cry if the phone store goes, but you're right — rough.  The whole of Main Street looks rough.  Some day when I have time, I'll walk the length of it and count the vacant storefronts.

A couple of days ago, I walked past a couple of tourists trying to figure out the new touch screen on the corner of Main and Rusk.  One tourist said to the other, "Where's this world-famous underground mall?"

I'd like to know that, too.

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5 hours ago, editor said:

I won't cry if the phone store goes, but you're right — rough.  The whole of Main Street looks rough.  Some day when I have time, I'll walk the length of it and count the vacant storefronts.

A couple of days ago, I walked past a couple of tourists trying to figure out the new touch screen on the corner of Main and Rusk.  One tourist said to the other, "Where's this world-famous underground mall?"

I'd like to know that, too.

I'd submit that it may be the world's most dispersed mall food court with full recognition of the current state of malls considered.   Shame we never had a corn dog place. 

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14 hours ago, Nate99 said:

I'd submit that it may be the world's most dispersed mall food court with full recognition of the current state of malls considered.   Shame we never had a corn dog place. 

No corn dogs, but the greasy spoon under 1001 McKinney makes a fine basic hamburger.

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/21/2022 at 9:22 AM, editor said:

I won't cry if the phone store goes, but you're right — rough.  The whole of Main Street looks rough.  Some day when I have time, I'll walk the length of it and count the vacant storefronts.

A couple of days ago, I walked past a couple of tourists trying to figure out the new touch screen on the corner of Main and Rusk.  One tourist said to the other, "Where's this world-famous underground mall?"

I'd like to know that, too.

I was in town last weekend, took the family to a baseball game. If it hadn't been for Astros fans, I'm not sure there would have been anyone at all downtown. I don't really understand why either; I've all but forgotten that there ever was a pandemic but I guess some people haven't. Went to Underground Hall for dinner and it was packed, great atmosphere. Went to Discovery Green on Sunday after church and was impressed by how the trees had grown and how good everything looked. Think it will look amazing when the new Skanska building defines the rest of its border. 

Then walked down McKinney and the renovated Houston Center area looked pretty sad, with the half-hearted renovation of the Park Shops looking even sadder. Walked up Fannin - instead of Main for once - and was impressed by the architecture. It's not such a bad street, Fannin. Some pretty fine buildings. Perhaps someday it will be something.

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17 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

I was in town last weekend, took the family to a baseball game. If it hadn't been for Astros fans, I'm not sure there would have been anyone at all downtown. I don't really understand why either; I've all but forgotten that there ever was a pandemic but I guess some people haven't. Went to Underground Hall for dinner and it was packed, great atmosphere. Went to Discovery Green on Sunday after church and was impressed by how the trees had grown and how good everything looked. Think it will look amazing when the new Skanska building defines the rest of its border. 

Then walked down McKinney and the renovated Houston Center area looked pretty sad, with the half-hearted renovation of the Park Shops looking even sadder. Walked up Fannin - instead of Main for once - and was impressed by the architecture. It's not such a bad street, Fannin. Some pretty fine buildings. Perhaps someday it will be something.

This podcast (which I mentioned in another thread) discusses the possibility (although it almost sounded as if the Central Houston guy thinks it is only a matter of time) for tunnel businesses to relocate to the street level to cater to the residential and after-hours population to counter the reduction in the daytime office population and then to reprogram the tunnel space with art installations or other museum-type exhibits.

Looped In Podcast: Interview with Kris Larson and Angie Bertinot of Central Houston on downtown Houston's recovery post-pandemic (houstonchronicle.com)

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56 minutes ago, mattyt36 said:

This podcast (which I mentioned in another thread) discusses the possibility (although it almost sounded as if the Central Houston guy thinks it is only a matter of time) for tunnel businesses to relocate to the street level to cater to the residential and after-hours population to counter the reduction in the daytime office population and then to reprogram the tunnel space with art installations or other museum-type exhibits.

Looped In Podcast: Interview with Kris Larson and Angie Bertinot of Central Houston on downtown Houston's recovery post-pandemic (houstonchronicle.com)

I listened to it. If the one bright spot of the pandemic is that it kills the tunnels, that would be something. But I think in certain areas of downtown like the central and western areas, there aren't enough other uses that could lure those shops out, like there are in the northern and eastern areas.

Nonetheless, the guy running Central Houston sounds smart and some of the figures they cited made it sound like downtown is indeed on its way back.

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My unscientific observation is that there are some pockets in the tunnels that seem to be fully "back", but overall, while you always had a lot of turnover in the shops, there are a lot more empty stalls than there were historically with only a handful of new places opening.  I'd guess there will be consolidation with the successful places getting concentrated and fill their empty holes while the other locations find some other alternate use. 

The remaining open/accessible places are doing well, again in spots. The pan-Asian food court under the Jason's Deli at Main/McKinney is frequently jammed as is the expanded space under Pennzoil and the new BofA  building does good business, though a few of the stalls did not reopen after Covid.   Allen Center seems humming along just fine too.

The HC shops are a hot mess, The area around the former Beck's is almost completely dead, and Chase tower is down an Alonti and a pizza shop but up a Brown Bag Deli. 

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2 hours ago, Nate99 said:

My unscientific observation is that there are some pockets in the tunnels that seem to be fully "back", but overall, while you always had a lot of turnover in the shops, there are a lot more empty stalls than there were historically with only a handful of new places opening.  I'd guess there will be consolidation with the successful places getting concentrated and fill their empty holes while the other locations find some other alternate use. 

The remaining open/accessible places are doing well, again in spots. The pan-Asian food court under the Jason's Deli at Main/McKinney is frequently jammed as is the expanded space under Pennzoil and the new BofA  building does good business, though a few of the stalls did not reopen after Covid.   Allen Center seems humming along just fine too.

The HC shops are a hot mess, The area around the former Beck's is almost completely dead, and Chase tower is down an Alonti and a pizza shop but up a Brown Bag Deli. 

All of the Alonti locations downtown have closed up. 

919 Milam is undergoing renovation work, which is why Beck’s Prime and Brown Bag Deli are closed. Neither of their spaces (nor DiMassi’s) has cleared out so they’ll likely reopen after the renovation is done. 
 

From what I’ve seen last year to currently, YES I’d say the tunnels feel like they’re back now, especially in the last few weeks. 

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16 hours ago, tigereye said:

From what I’ve seen last year to currently, YES I’d say the tunnels feel like they’re back now, especially in the last few weeks. 

Back in October, I'd use the tunnels to get around because I don't like being near people.  These days, I'm back on the streets, because the tunnels are packed at peak hours.

I wonder what the traffic numbers are like on some of those tunnels.  There used to be companies that would hire people to sit in lawn chairs with hand clickers and count people walking by.  I wonder if that's still a thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, hindesky said:

"Ramon Soriano, owner of wildly popular taco shop La Calle, is slated to open an '80s Spanish pop and rock bar on Main Street this summer, in the space that formerly housed Boomtown Coffee."

https://www.chron.com/food/article/the-80s-are-back-downtown-houston-17272132.php

Was hoping for another cafe but beggars can’t be choosers 🤷🏻‍♂️  

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39 minutes ago, nate4l1f3 said:

Was hoping for another cafe but beggars can’t be choosers 🤷🏻‍♂️  

I won't go.  Bars (other than tiki) aren't my scene.  But I appreciate him trying to at least be a little different.

Unless 80's Spanish pop/rock bars are all over the place, and I just haven't noticed.

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  • The title was changed to Downtown Restaurant And Bar Scene - More Coming

Based on the energy this past weekend and the one before, I think downtown is coming back stronger. Pre-pandemic we started to see some real synergy downtown. With the addition of POST, which has become a hub for different activity, it's really helped create more energy downtown. I think with the renovation of The Shops, the Stros Village, and Skanska's future project, things are only going to get better and better. 

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On 7/5/2022 at 11:09 AM, j_cuevas713 said:

Based on the energy this past weekend and the one before, I think downtown is coming back stronger. Pre-pandemic we started to see some real synergy downtown. With the addition of POST, which has become a hub for different activity, it's really helped create more energy downtown. I think with the renovation of The Shops, the Stros Village, and Skanska's future project, things are only going to get better and better. 

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

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On 7/5/2022 at 11:09 AM, j_cuevas713 said:

Based on the energy this past weekend and the one before, I think downtown is coming back stronger. Pre-pandemic we started to see some real synergy downtown. With the addition of POST, which has become a hub for different activity, it's really helped create more energy downtown. I think with the renovation of The Shops, the Stros Village, and Skanska's future project, things are only going to get better and better. 

The busiest days seem to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; which jibes with what I've read in the business press about how most office workers who can pick the days they go in to work are gravitating toward the middle of the week.

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4 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

Not great.  I've been there, or through there, about five times in the last couple of months, because I have business with Chase.  Foot traffic has been very light.  And I think the really good chicken joint closed.  Or at least it wasn't open the last time I went.

The big problem with Finn, as someone who lives down the street, is that you never know when it's open, so you don't bother to go.  Sure, the food court, itself, has regular hours.  But each vendor within is allowed to set their own, lesser hours.  So what's the point of going, if it's safe to assume that half of the options are going to be closed?

In large retail spaces, like malls, it's not uncommon for the owner to require minimum operating hours of its stores.  Finn should do this.

Also, it's not open on weekends.  Every other bar and restaurant on Main Street can be packed after a Saturday Astros game, but Finn is closed.  It makes the street look bad.  It makes Finn look unreliable.  It makes the restaurants inside look amateur.  If you're a restaurant on Main Street that's not open on weekends, you're not a business.  You're a hobby.

I think I'm not going to try with Finn anymore.  If it can't respect the neighborhood enough to be open on weekends, then why would I give it any of my money?  There are other options. 

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3 hours ago, editor said:

Not great.  I've been there, or through there, about five times in the last couple of months, because I have business with Chase.  Foot traffic has been very light.  And I think the really good chicken joint closed.  Or at least it wasn't open the last time I went.

The big problem with Finn, as someone who lives down the street, is that you never know when it's open, so you don't bother to go.  Sure, the food court, itself, has regular hours.  But each vendor within is allowed to set their own, lesser hours.  So what's the point of going, if it's safe to assume that half of the options are going to be closed?

In large retail spaces, like malls, it's not uncommon for the owner to require minimum operating hours of its stores.  Finn should do this.

Also, it's not open on weekends.  Every other bar and restaurant on Main Street can be packed after a Saturday Astros game, but Finn is closed.  It makes the street look bad.  It makes Finn look unreliable.  It makes the restaurants inside look amateur.  If you're a restaurant on Main Street that's not open on weekends, you're not a business.  You're a hobby.

I think I'm not going to try with Finn anymore.  If it can't respect the neighborhood enough to be open on weekends, then why would I give it any of my money?  There are other options. 

I was upset as well when I was down there on a weekend and it was closed!

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On 7/6/2022 at 2:22 PM, nate4l1f3 said:

Do you have a sense of how Finn Hall is looking lately? I really want that place to succeed. 

They seem fine, they're just running on a different schedule at the moment. As things continue to pick up, places will change their hours. It's just hard to recover financially in the service industry. You have to slowly get back in the green. 

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I stopped into the new coffee shop/bar on Travis Street, across from Frank's Pizza today.  It's called The Lucky Italian, and is owned by the same people who own The Italian Job across the street.

Very good coffee, but this location is leaning heavily on the bar/nosh scene for revenue.   Still, I'm happy to have another place to buy beans downtown.  There's a couple of pastry cases, but the offerings are meager, which is fine since the guy behind the bar (I think he's the owner) says they only opened yesterday. 

He says it opens at 6am Monday through Friday, and 7am Saturday and Sunday.  I thanked him for being open on weekends, because I won't patronize a restaurant that only exists to feed the commuters, and has no interest in contributing to the community.† (*cough* Finn Hall *cough*)

It's a much larger space than the old one, and a dining room goes through from Travis Street to Prairie Street.  He says they're going to do lunch and sammitches and small plates for dinner.  There's also a smattering of outdoor seating for the world's last smokers.

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On a side note, I noticed that Day Six is now flogging the fact that it's open at 6am.  I guess that's a change?  I don't know.  It's also promoting catering, which is not a bad idea now that there are almost 12,000 more office workers downtown than there were last year.

†: One exception: Chick-fil-a, because I dig that it gives all of its employees a day of rest.   

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

District Market is open again. It's been closed since at least late August. 
 

I probably won't eat there, but it seems like a handy option for emergency pasta, sauces, chocolate, and coffee beans. 
 

The door says it's open until 10pm on weekdays, so I'll make an effort, since they are. 

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15 hours ago, editor said:

District Market is open again. It's been closed since at least late August. 
 

I probably won't eat there, but it seems like a handy option for emergency pasta, sauces, chocolate, and coffee beans. 
 

The door says it's open until 10pm on weekdays, so I'll make an effort, since they are. 

It's been open for a few months. The food is pretty much the same as before the pandemic, and the groceries they have are expensive but super convenient if you need something last minute. For example, a six-pack of Spindeltap Houston Haze IPA is $18 bucks. The market portion has counter service, and the Cellar 7 Bar portion next door has table service, but both serve the same food. They also have some breakfast/brunch options and are open on the weekends. I wish we had more breakfast options with weekend hours Downtown.

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I expect most of the groceries will be over-priced, but I don't mind paying a premium for the convenience.  

I didn't have time to do anything but breeze through it on my way to Frank's last night.  It looks like it might be possible to order some food at the register to go, like to take home for dinner.  Is that right?

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1 hour ago, editor said:

I expect most of the groceries will be over-priced, but I don't mind paying a premium for the convenience.  

I didn't have time to do anything but breeze through it on my way to Frank's last night.  It looks like it might be possible to order some food at the register to go, like to take home for dinner.  Is that right?

Yes, you can order to go at the counter. They are also on the Ritual app, so you can pre-order and pick up when it's ready. I'm right there with you on a convenience tax on their groceries. The more options we can have Downtown, the better. It's surprising how limited food selection can get late evening on a weeknight. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/2/2022 at 5:35 PM, staresatmaps said:

New 24/7 pizza vending machine at 625 Fannin where the Fannin Food Mart and another one next to Social Beer Garden HTX.

I'll totally check that out.

We had a pizza vending machine in the dorm at my college in 1989.  It was pretty great.

But even better was the french fry vending machine next to it.  It had a big plexiglass front, and you would watch your fries being made. 

A big thing turned, and a potato would drop into a holder.  Then another thing would mash it through the slicing grid, and the potato fingers would fall down a chute into the boiling oil.  Then there was a little countdown clock while you watched your spuds fry.  The little metal basket would then rise up, tilt clockwise, and the fresh fries slid down a chute into a paper cup.

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On 9/2/2022 at 5:35 PM, staresatmaps said:

New 24/7 pizza vending machine at 625 Fannin where the Fannin Food Mart and another one next to Social Beer Garden HTX.

That Food Mart has probably had a half dozen of its windows smashed out since it opened, always promptly replaced. I worry for pizza bot's safety. 

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