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Downtown Restaurant And Bar Scene - More Coming


HeightsGuy

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since i actually live downtown houston, i am quite acquainted with the quirky bar / establishment names etc.  however, HOUSTON WATCH COMPANY just does not make one think of lively libations.. other than wonderful timepieces.  i want you and yours to be truly successful.. and i love that you chose downtown, just make certain that your overall product is remarkable... and that you ensure that the word BAR is prominently added to your moniker...

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since i actually live downtown houston, i am quite acquainted with the quirky bar / establishment names etc.  however, HOUSTON WATCH COMPANY just does not make one think of lively libations.. other than wonderful timepieces.  i want you and yours to be truly successful.. and i love that you chose downtown, just make certain that your overall product is remarkable... and that you ensure that the word BAR is prominently added to your moniker...

 

 

Public Services doesn't either.  Moving Sidewalk.  Pastry War.  

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That was an El Tiempo hybrid restaurant in the early 2000's. Didn't last very long. Its interesting how we go through these cycles. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's this part of town was going crazy. There were restaurants and bars opening all of the time. It was pretty incredible to see so many people downtown most nights of the week and especially weekends. I was running Cabo's at night just across the street at the other end of Prairie and Travis. The Mercury room was going great and the dancing Marlin,Soleros, State Bar, along with several others in the Rice, Tryst, Deans, the Black Cat, along with all of the bars on the square and several on the north end of downtown that I can't even remember all of their names. And then everyone moved to Washington Avenue. Now they're back but more solid bars and restaurants seem to be hanging on. It will be interesting who has staying power, and how long before  the next cycle and where the new scene will take place. Trust me its always moving from Richmond to Shepherd plaza to Downtown to Washington to Midtown,and back to downtown. Wouldn't be surprised to see it jump over to Eado with all of the old warehouses. They already have several bars, and many more residents now. with the proximity to the super bowl parties at the Convention center it would be a natural.

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That was an El Tiempo hybrid restaurant in the early 2000's. Didn't last very long. Its interesting how we go through these cycles. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's this part of town was going crazy. There were restaurants and bars opening all of the time. It was pretty incredible to see so many people downtown most nights of the week and especially weekends. I was running Cabo's at night just across the street at the other end of Prairie and Travis. The Mercury room was going great and the dancing Marlin,Soleros, State Bar, along with several others in the Rice, Tryst, Deans, the Black Cat, along with all of the bars on the square and several on the north end of downtown that I can't even remember all of their names. And then everyone moved to Washington Avenue. Now they're back but more solid bars and restaurants seem to be hanging on. It will be interesting who has staying power, and how long before the next cycle and where the new scene will take place. Trust me its always moving from Richmond to Shepherd plaza to Downtown to Washington to Midtown,and back to downtown. Wouldn't be surprised to see it jump over to Eado with all of the old warehouses. They already have several bars, and many more residents now. with the proximity to the super bowl parties at the Convention center it would be a natural.

Agreed.

"Bar scenes" tend to move in trends. What is needed downtown is not "trendy" bars but rather some establishments that have more staying power like, say, hearsay or maybe honeymoon cafe. Bars open and close..... "Neighborhood pubs" have more staying power.

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Agreed.

"Bar scenes" tend to move in trends. What is needed downtown is not "trendy" bars but rather some establishments that have more staying power like, say, hearsay or maybe honeymoon cafe. Bars open and close..... "Neighborhood pubs" have more staying power.

 

True.  

 

Which is why Warren's and La Carafe have both been around for decades - from before Market Square was hot and fashionable in the '60s, through the valley of the '80s, and on into today.

 

There's going to be more staying power for more places, though, as more and more people actually live downtown.  My experience is that singles and couples living in a smaller place within an easy walk will often treat the neighborhood places like an extension of their living rooms.

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Exactly and that is why all of the efforts to get more people living downtown is really going to help the restaurant and neighborhood pubs survive. Also it will help to create more of a street life since the tunnels aren't open at night and they don't exist in many areas where housing is going in. I'm personally interested in seeing more gfr in these areas. There's plenty of empty retail spaces that will slowly be repurposed once more of this housing opens.

While were talking restaurants and bars, does anyone remember Ruby Reds and Willies Pub.

They had great burgers and served unshelled peanuts. The floor was always covered with the shells.

We used to play down there in the 70's

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True.

Which is why Warren's and La Carafe have both been around for decades - from before Market Square was hot and fashionable in the '60s, through the valley of the '80s, and on into today.

There's going to be more staying power for more places, though, as more and more people actually live downtown. My experience is that singles and couples living in a smaller place within an easy walk will often treat the neighborhood places like an extension of their living rooms.

I fully agree with you.

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I've only lived in Houston and downtown for two years and I am amazed by the amount of change that has occurred on the restaurant / bar scene. When I moved here, OKRA was not even open / even hinted at. Since then there has been a number of successful openings and it's hard to keep up with the pace of change. I've also been very pleased with the quality of each opening - these establishments are nothing like the typical Midtown / Wash Ave bars where the bartenders do not even know what Campari is.

 

Here are recent openings in no particular order:

  • Honeymoon Cafe (300 Main). Serves upscale sandwiches for lunch. Downtown's only good independent coffee shop. Always packed for lunch and surprisingly packed for Sunday brunch.
  • http://thehoneymoonhtx.com/
  • Public Services Wine and Whiskey (202 Travis). Run by the former Oxheart sommelier with interesting wines and whiskeys. It's in the restored / renovated Cotton Exchange building.
  • http://publicservicesbar.com/
  • New Hearsay Location (1516 Dallas)

 

Also, looks like a formerly empty location on Main Street is taped over with the business named "Beef and Barley" and District 7 Grill is taking over an empty space that spans half a block at Main and Texas. There is some sports bar opening on Main as well.

 

As MAB noted in another thread, a new BBQ restaurant set to open by Brian Caswell (Reef), Bill Floyd and Greg Gatlin (Gatlin's BBQ) is set to open in Q1 2015 on Jackson and Congress near Minute Maid Park.

 

There is now a liquor store downtown called Posh Liquors (http://poshliquors.com/). Based on the name, I'm assuming they are trying for an upscale clientele base.

 

All these join the first wave of restaurants (El Big Bad, Batanga, Fusion Taco) and first wave of bars (Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge, OKRA, Pastry War, Clutch City Squire, Little Dipper, Dean's Credit Clothing re-opening). 

 

Yes it would be nice to get a full service grocery, a Target and some retail downtown but I am so grateful for everything that has happened to downtown recently, that I have no absolutely no complaints. I also have nothing but optimism for further development as more residential opens.

 

 

I'm not sure you've fully observed Downtown.

 

Your first wave of restaurants as you call them are all located in spaces previously occupied by restaurants that recently failed.

 

State Bar, a long time downtown resident, is gone.

 

Georgia's Market failure is glaring. Not only where they a grocery store, but they were also a bar and restaurant.

 

Most restaurants are still closed on the weekends and or evenings (café express, Chipotle, etc..)

 

Not saying we can't be optimistic about Downtown, but lets see how the crash in oil prices plays out first.

 

 

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There's a Dunkin Donuts going in under 1000 Main where Quizno's used to be.

Now that's a restaurant scene rebirth right there.

Dunkin Donuts may not be the only arrival. Look next to Poblano's before the sealed off Macy's doors ...that space is also under work.

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I am not afraid of more people ;)

 

 

I thought we wanted more people downtown...besides, we have our cool area on Washington/Montrose and Westheimer. It might not be A-town levels but it's a start.

 

Have you been around people lately? They're the worst.

 

In seriousness, I like Austin being the cool kid in the state, it keeps the festival related street closures to a minimum.

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I can do without the cool, that brings in more people.

Totally disagree with this. If those are your expectations, perhaps you'd be happier in a city like Amarillo or Lubbock, not the state's largest city and among the top 4 in the nation.

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Totally disagree with this. If those are your expectations, perhaps you'd be happier in a city like Amarillo or Lubbock, not the state's largest city and among the top 4 in the nation.

 

I am being a bit tongue in cheek here, but you're not far off re: Lubbock/Amarillo.

 

I like the job market options that a large metropolitain area affords. It makes it worth it to me to put up with the people.  Houston as always (in my 38 years here) been big with plenty of people flocking here for whatever their reasons may be, but I never got the feeling that there was much "cool" to pull in folks just looking for a city in which to have fun around a lot of other people similarly looking to have fun.

 

The particulars (as I percieve them) that make Austin/Portland/NYC/San Francisco "cool" do very little for me. Were I independently wealthy, I'd probably live on the outskirts of a small-ish city with a regional airport, but if you are going to give up the economic advantages of a large city, you can probably do better for scenery and climate than our friends in the Panhandle.  

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That Popeyes was a disaster, even when it was open. Especially on Tuesday's.

I wonder what Hilcorps plans are for the block? (They own both lots IIRC)

 

What happened on Tuesdays?

 

I imagine the foyer of building that houses a drunk tank to have similar ambience to street level fast food downtown.

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looks cool... it'd be nice to have a slightly more classy lounge to go downtown. love the scene there and definitely love the concentration of chill spots but sometimes you want to class it up a little bit more than little dipper, deans or bad news bar.

 

For "classier" lounges, I've been going to Prohibition, Public Services and Main Kitchen.

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Checked the place out last night. Very upscale. They are building out a rooftop patio, which they say will be where they will eventually be having party brunches. They cited classic pre-burn down La Strada as a reference point. The second floor will be finished into a live music venue with a capacity as high as 200. Impressive.

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Checked the place out last night. Very upscale. They are building out a rooftop patio, which they say will be where they will eventually be having party brunches. They cited classic pre-burn down La Strada as a reference point. The second floor will be finished into a live music venue with a capacity as high as 200. Impressive.

What place? I can't tell what you are responding to.

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Dunno - they're acting a bit entitled.  Last weekend they had the sidewalk completely blocked and roped off, and they've repeatedly hijacked what are public street slots for their valet.  They were about to tow my car a few weeks ago, even though it had been there well before the valets set up and no signs were posted (as is required), finally "allowing" me to park in their lot for only $5.  I only found out because a passer by walked into Carafe to tell the bartender that his car was about to be towed.  Perhaps such things are appealing to the doucheoisie.

 

The good news is that they at least fixed the roof to where it no longer sends a waterfall to the sidewalk during every rain.

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Dunno - they're acting a bit entitled. Last weekend they had the sidewalk completely blocked and roped off, and they've repeatedly hijacked what are public street slots for their valet. They were about to tow my car a few weeks ago, even though it had been there well before the valets set up and no signs were posted (as is required), finally "allowing" me to park in their lot for only $5. I only found out because a passer by walked into Carafe to tell the bartender that his car was about to be towed. Perhaps such things are appealing to the doucheoisie.

The good news is that they at least fixed the roof to where it no longer sends a waterfall to the sidewalk during every rain.

"they've repeatedly hijacked what are public street slots for their valet."

1) what establishment are we talking about here?

2) can you explain your statement? Are you saying that public parking along the street has been blocked off or forbidden (in some manner) by whatever establishment you you are referring to? I did not know this was a legal practice! Please help me understand.

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As with adr, I was talking about Henke & Pillot.

 

And yes, their contracted valets are blocking off public parking on the street and threatening towing, which is NOT legal unless one has a permit and posts signs.  They sometimes have a short term permit, but not always, and I've yet to see a sign.

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They've had permits for the valet slots at some times.  However, they also continued to block off the street parking after the permit expired.  They have no monopoly on this practice - some of the downtown valet companies get really abusive.

 

In any event, they're also pretty slack on putting up the required signage.

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Just this very evening, the valets were waving people off from open spots ACROSS THE DANGED STEET so that they could valet cars there.  

 

FWIW, they have a garage or parking lot to use.

 

Starting out, I would have gone in to Henke & Pillot just to check it out. Now, nahhhhhhh... 

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