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Historic Houston Restaurants


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Speaking of how easy it is to make a kid happy:

When I was about four, my father took the family to a soda fountain for ice cream. When it was time for me to place my order, I said I wanted a milkshake.

"What flavor?"


"We have chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. No raspberry."

"But I want raspberry!", I insisted.

"We don't have that."

I guess my father saw my disappointment. "Bring him a raspberry milkshake," he said.

The soda jerk rolled his eyes. "Sir, we don't have..."

"Sure you do," my dad interjected. "See?", pointing at the menu. "S-T-R-A-W-B-E-R-R-Y. Raspberry."

Best raspberry shake I ever had.


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This used to be a Rettig's Ice Cream store. It is located at Studewood and 13th in the Heights. The rounded windows are what makes the building distinctive to Rettig's.

There used to be a similar building on the south side of Westheimer, near Windsor (across the street from the Daiquiri Factory). It was a locksmith shop and they had a big sign saying KEYS.

Wonder if it was a Rettig's, too?

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.  In a way then, we are the authors of our own misery, and even the most seemingly hideous conditions of life could be made happy and pleasant if we were to recover this innocence and naivete...

.......until my critical faculties were developed.

I agree. The challenge is how to keep our minds open like children while still possessing knowledge. Sometimes knowledge helps us to appreciate things more, whereas as children we would've dismissed them. There's a buddhist saying, "when the opposites arise, the Buddha mind is lost" which makes sense if you've ever had a taste of that calm state where the mind isn't being critical.

Back to the topic. There's a place on Wayside about a half block north of Harrisburg where there is an old, very Art Deco looking burger place. White Castle? Prince's? Anyone know? I'll take a pic sometime soon.

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Here's the burger place I mentioned in the previous post. Any clues as to what it started out as? It's on the East End, 210 Wayside, north of Harrisburg.


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There used to be a place I liked called "Charlie's Hamburger Joint" in front of Randall's on Bissonett & Fondren. It looked like an old house, but was built new to look old. Last time I was in Houston, I think it was something else.

Also, anyone remember "Burger Mountain Soda Fountain"?

I used to live in the neighborhood across the street from that Randalls...about 7 years ago. When I was there, there was a taqueria in the parking lot. Strange thing about the taqueria...it was run by an Asian guy. :huh:

There used to be Charlie's all over the place. What was their slogan? "Over 2 dozen sold"?

I know there used to be one on Telephone Rd near Lockwood. There was one down in Clear Lake (Bay Area Blvd or Clear Lake City Blvd?). I also think there was one at Westheimer and 610...which has now become the classy "Zone D' Erotica" :(

I only ate at Charlie's once or twice...it didn't leave much of an impression on me, but I wasn't as smart as I am now. What's everyone else's opinion of Charlie's?

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Mmmm....food threads....

Anywho, there was a Wyatts on W. 34th and Ella. My mom and uncle both worked there for a while.

Piccadilly Cafeteria was in Northwest Mall for a while but closed shop about 5 years ago I think. The one in Northline Mall survived for a little while after but has now gone.

As it stands there are only 2 Pancho Mexican Buffets left in Houston (one on 45 north and one at Jones and 1960).

My grandma worked at the Princes on 14th (?) and Shepard. I think one of the old staff pics of her hangs in either the I-10 or 59 Princes. She is wearing this really neat-o space suit thing. And was making 35 cents an hour :)

I want to say there was a Ruby Tuesday in Northwest Mall too, right across from the old Picadilly Cafeteria. Then again, I think I was 4 when the restaurant in question closed down.

And yeah, Champs rocked. The one that was on 290 and Bingle is now a Bravos Mexican Restaurant. And there isn't a train, but you can still see the tracks and tunnels.

Anyone remember Dirtys? There was one on Durham where Cyclone Anyas is now located and there was one on Chimney Rock too. From what I recall, it was pretty good and I could draw on the walls without my mom getting all poofy.

There was a Woolworths Grill thing in Northwest Mall too, my uncle worked there for a while too.

Lets see, there is a Charlies Hamburgers on W. Gray in the River Oaks Plaza. moo. I've had better hamburgers.

I remember the day that Lukes burnt down. We were going down Westheimer and it was flooding something fierce and traffic was all kinds of backed up. And there is was, blazing away.

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Did Houston every have RuBy Tuesday's?

Or Hardee's?

Or Carl's Jr?

Hardee's was here very briefly, I want to say mid 70s. The Whataburger on Westheimer between Edloe and Weslayan was originally a Hardee's. I ate there once. I think most of the Hardee's were taken over by Whataburger, which wasn't that big back then.

I don't think Carl's Jr. was ever here.

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Don't be sorry for posting, we like that!

I didn't Know Houston had Steak N Shake,

And I thought I remembered White Castle.

Steak and Shake was here in the late 70s; the James Coney Island on Westheimer across from the Jungman Library was a Steak and Shake; they're back in TX in the DFW area; hope they'll get back down here, but Culver's, which now has a location out in the Woodlands, is actually better as far as chains go.

Houston had it's own sliders (mini-burgers) - My-T-Byte, on Sheperd between Alabama and Richmond, in a former Toddle House. Didn't last long, unfortunately.

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I remember eating breakfast at some restaurant called "Champ's" as a child.  I liked the little train that would go around near the ceiling, and it would pass through some shelves filled with stuff.  I think they closed down a few years back(I think there were multiple locations).

Oh, and yes, I also remember this place called JoJo's, which was pretty good(This was near the Fondren area, I think, where i used to live).    I don't know if they are still open, though.

The JoJo's on S. Braeswood, 1 block w. of Hillcroft, has been vacant for about 15 years now and you can hardly see the building for the overgrown shrubbery. The JoJos on Wilcrest @ 59 became a Champs and is now an Exxon station.

I don't know what ever happened to the Champs - they always seemed to do a good business but the food wasn't anything special. I only ate at one a couple of times.

I think a lot of the JoJos went into former Sambo's locations.

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I can't beleave this was in Houston, I wonder why they tore it down? Was the food not good? It looked like a 5 star resturant.

7315 South Main

Red Lion Restaurant



When the Duke of Windsor, nee King Edward VIII, was at the Med Ctr for open heart surgery, the Brit press corps lived at the Red Lion and raved about it. Wallis stayed at the Warwick, I think.

I never got to go.

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There used to be a place I liked called "Charlie's Hamburger Joint" in front of Randall's on Bissonett & Fondren. It looked like an old house, but was built new to look old. Last time I was in Houston, I think it was something else.

Also, anyone remember "Burger Mountain Soda Fountain"?

The building is gone, now a Randall's service station.

Charlie's seems to be slip-sliding away.

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I remember Steak n Shake from the 70's. It's a priority for me to go to them whenever I'm in the Midwest. They're all over the place in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, and as someone posted, they've made it back to Texas in the DFW area. Braums is another North Texas staple (burgers, ice cream, some dairy and bakery products) that would be nice to have down here.

Now on to the serious early 80's reminiscing.

Another former Del Taco: Goode Company Hamburgers and Taqueria at Kirby and Westpark.

Hamburgers by Gourmet on Kirby and on Alabama near University of St. Thomas. The Kirby HBG was torn down and replaced with a strange adobe-mission looking little building for a restaurant called Padre Pollo. They had _roast_ chicken and semi-Mexican style side dishes and decor. Good and cheap, but it didn't last long. It later became Kirby Grill, which was a pretty decent Cafe Express kind of place, and now is a Castle Dental, I think.

Zeke's Hamburgers on Kirby where Beck's Prime is now.

Ruby Red's Steakburgers on Main at Greenbriar, with peanuts at the table for throwing shells on the floor.

Neal's Ice Cream (various locations). First place I ever tasted Mexican chocolate ice cream (with cinnamon)

Chicago Pizza Company on Mandell where Cafe Artiste is now. Pretty good thick crust pizza.

New York New York Pizza, Westpark at Gessner. It also had deep-dish pizza, and the restaurant featured an old NYC subway car inside.

Jenny's Hideaway on Alabama near the Menil parking lot. Probably the first and most successful conversion of that old house into a restaurant.

Harlow's Hollywood Cafe on Hillcroft. Late hours and chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

The Bowery downtown, more or less where the Alley parking garage/Birraporetti's is now.

Ditto on the late hours and chocolate cheesecake.

and of course, Jamail's Grocery on Kirby next to House of Pies. The original upscale grocery store in Houston.


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Hamburgers by Gourmet on Kirby and on Alabama near University of St. Thomas. 

Harlow's Hollywood Cafe on Hillcroft.  Late hours and chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

Hamburgers by Gourmet, never ate there but I do remember it -- and it actually reminded me of another restaurant, Across the Street. I can't remember where it was located, but there were telephones on every table and you'd call your order into the kitchen. I remember going there around 1975ish.

I just (on my way back from lunch) saw a sign on the Edward's Theatre building (Weslayan at 59) that said they're going to open a restaurant called Harlow's! I do remember the Harlow's on Hillcroft (near Richmond I think) for its late night hours and old movie posters featuring (who else?) Jean Harlow.

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Harlow's Hollywood Cafe on Hillcroft. Late hours and chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

Quite the popular late night hangout at one time. I also saw the sign for the new Harlows and was wondering what that was about.

As luck would have it, I was in the midwest last week and went to a Steak-and-Shake for the first time, for I had been informed that it was not to be missed. All I had was a shake, though. Not too bad!

You knew that One's-a-Meal was good diner food because it always had a lot of cops eating there. :)

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