Load up on German/Turkish street food at Austin-based VERTS Mediterranean Grill. (Photo courtesy VertsKebap)
While some would argue Austin has lost its wildly weird persona, there’s no denying its unique charm. Widely known for its role as one of the country’s largest incubators for technology and the home of SXSW Texas’ capital city stands out in more ways than one (and yes, I know, traffic is one of those ways).
But the city’s small businesses and unique creative spaces were keeping Austin weird long before outsiders labeled it the second coming of Silicon Valley. One-of-a-kind retail, restaurants fashioned in residents’ homes — you name it, Austin’s got it. And now Houston is getting a piece of the action.
Of course, we’re not saying that Houston needs a taste of Austin flavor to thrive on the retail and restaurant front — it doesn’t (see The Galleria’s multi-million dollar expansion and the newly opened River Oaks District for reference). But while one of the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse cities in the country may not require transplants from our sister city out West, it’s definitely a positive addition. Plus, Austin receives credit for some of the best bites I’ve ever consumed.
Needless to say, there’s been a noteworthy influx of Austin concepts within the past year, featuring everything from women’s and men’s clothing boutiques to German street food, and it would appear that the best is yet to come. Here are 10 of our favorite Austin implants in the Bayou City.
BLACK SWAN YOGA
3210 White Oak Dr., 713.640.5060
The donation-based, community-driven yoga studio is always heated to a toasty 90 degrees for endless hours of hot yoga. Plus, fellow Austin native Juiceland is its neighbor.
1303 Westheimer Road, 713.521.3627
Concealed behind its signature garage doors, the neighborhood bar and grill is serving up Tex-Mex-inspired cuisine and a full bar featuring local brews like Karbach, St Arnold, 8th Wonder, Buffalo Bayou, Fort Bend, Lone Pint and No Label Brewing Co. Head to Doc’s dog-friendly patio for crawfish every Friday, starting at 11 am.
HOPDODDY BURGER BAR
River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer Road, firstname.lastname@example.org
Locally sourced burgers, fries, salads, shakes and cocktails come to Houston’s River Oaks District this spring by way of Hopdoddy. But brace yourself, there’s sure to be a line.
3206 White Oak Dr., 832.433.7831
After 13 years of business, Proprietor Matt Shook opened his first Houston location, on the Heights Hike and Bike Trail, in 2015, providing an array of juices and cleanses. Juiceland has 12 Austin locations, plus one in Brooklyn.
2565 Kirby Dr., email@example.com
Founded by Wendi Koletar, the store offers a unique collection of designers including Acne Studios, Denim Refinery, Etnia Barcelona, MM6 Maison Margiela, Rachel Comey and more. Kick Pleat is slated to open at the end of April.
MILK + HONEY
2800 Kirby Dr., 713.231.0250
After much anticipation, Milk + Honey Spa is now open in West Ave. Comprising 8,249 square feet, the Houston location is the largest outpost for the brand and features eight salon chairs, six manicure and pedicure stations, 15 treatment rooms, steam showers, a lounge, a locker room and the brand’s signature line of natural and organic products.
1400 Shepherd Dr., 10407 Katy Freeway (forthcoming location), 713.864.9464
After breaking into the Houston market with a location at 1400 Shepherd Drive, Pluckers is going for restaurant number two, taking over the shuttered 59 Diner space at 10407 Katy Freeway. The new outpost will serve Pluckers signature wings and homemade sauces.
1714 California St.
Austin’s favorite Japanese soul food may be coming to Houston. The rumor mill began swirling last month, when owner Tatsu Aikawa‘s company, I Own This Dirt, LLC., purchased a tract of land at 1714 California Street. The restaurant, which is known for its 60-hour ramen broth, has been featured on the Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats and was on Bon Appetit‘s Top 50 new restaurants list in 2013.
2614 Westheimer Road, 832.667.8211
Stag, which opened in 2015, adds to the growing men’s boutiques in the city. Look for brands including Jack Spade, Faherty, Hamilton Shirts, Filson, Saturdays Surf, Bridge & Burn, Pendleton, Wolverine and more.
VERTS MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
107 Yale St., 713.714.8101; 11700 Westheimer Road, 281.506.7580; 1572 West Gray St., 832.804.7735; 15556 Cutten Road, 832.559.3766; 14555 Memorial Dr., 281.496.0714; 19355 Katy Freeway, 281.578.2846
Load up on German/Turkish street food at VertsKebap. The brainchild of two German natives and University of Texas graduates, Verts features Berlin-inspired kebaps, sauces, and — surprise — french fries.