Exploring Downtown Houston

Driving the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Castelmola Sicily: a vignette


Sometimes it’s important to remember that adventure can be local.

This is especially important to remember when you’re stuck in the middle of a travel drought.

Luckily, I was recently reminded that even if I’d sometimes rather be anywhere but Houston, it does have some pretty neat adventures available.

Tara and I spent a lovely day exploring the Market Square area of downtown Houston this past January, which was just the pick-me-up I needed.  It was one of those areas of the city that I’ve always heard about, but never actually been to, and it is as close to a city centre as Houston gets. And it sure lets Houston’s uniqueness shine.

Keeping it funky.
Keeping it funky.

Street parking is easy and convenient, and the area can be walked easily. It consists of a park (where the original Niko Niko’s resides!) and several blocks of restaurants and shops.

One of the bordering streets is Main Street, which is largely blocked off to all but pedestrian traffic and the light rail. This makes the entire area easy to explore on foot. Despite the fact that it was January, being Houston, the weather was mild (this was before the Polar Vortex decided to turn south). We took advantage of this with a walk around the block, exploring the area. 

It was Sunday, so unfortunately many venues were closed. Despite this, however, the sidewalks were full of pedestrians. One of the open restaurants, an Italian bistro, had a full porch of Sunday brunchers, and as we meandered along we were nearly run over by a segway tour group. The downtown area was definitely thriving on this mild January day.

After circling the block, we finally decided on the gastropub Hearsay, which is in one of the historic buildings.


The building itself is all old brick and high ceilings, giving it an old school, hip atmosphere. We were looking for something light, but the menu provided the typical dilemma. Everything looked good. Everything.

Hearsay Menu

Eventually we settled on the goat cheese salad, which we split (it was a late lunch, and dinner was right around the corner).

With lunch, and an obligatory glass of wine, taken care of, we continued our stroll through Market Square and towards our hotel, the Club Quarters.

Market Square

That night, we ate at one of my favorite Houston bars, The Flying Saucer, where even the hummus is spicy and they have a seemingly endless beer collection.

Flying Saucer Houston
I know, I know. It’s not a Houston exclusive. But that doesn’t make it any less delicious!

It was a great weekend, and provided a much-needed reminder that Houston, as a city, has a ton to offer. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost among the smoggy, oil and gas driven stigma, but when you move away from the energy corridor and towards downtown there is definitely still room for hip in Houston!

What is your favorite downtown/city centre and why?

Driving the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Castelmola Sicily: a vignette