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Restaurants / Openings

New Heights Restaurant Proves Vegan Food is a Real Draw

How Verdine is Defying All Those Texas Stereotypes

BY // 09.04.19

Houston, we have a problem. There aren’t a whole lot of vegan restaurants around these parts.

Stephanie Hoban, owner of Heights newcomer Verdine, wants to be part of changing that.

“Everyone thinks that in Texas we ride horses and wear cowboy hats and because of that stereotype that we are around a lot of cattle, so all we do is eat steaks,” Hoban says.

The dietician-turned-chef met with a lot of doubters when she started her vegan food truck Ripe Cuisine in 2014.

“I was told by many people that it wouldn’t be successful because I needed to serve at least one meat dish,” Hoban tells PaperCity.

It seems the naysayers will be eating their words (or in this case the lentil-packed Bistro Burger) when they visit Verdine. By early evening, the restaurant’s W 19th Street’s space routinely fills up with customers.

“I just wanted vegan food to be more accessible and approachable,” Hoban says. “It’s a huge difference to be able to walk into a restaurant and know that you can eat anything on the menu instead of ordering just a side of fries.”

Verdine’s got the usual vegan takes on American classics like pizzas, but there are also more unique options inspired by Houston’s multicultural makeup, including the tempura battered orange cauliflower drizzled with a sweet chili sauce, topped with pickled daikon and scallions. We dare you not to fight with your date over who gets the last morsel.

Verdine brings a diverse vegan menu to The Heights.
Verdine brings a diverse vegan menu to The Heights.

Many of Verdine’s customers are not even vegetarian or vegan.

“Sometimes I just crave brisket — it’s Texas — but I am taking baby steps towards eating more plant based (food),” Verdine dinner Kimberly Edwards says.

It’s this kind of transition that Hoban is hoping to see more of in a city saturated with meat-laden menus.

“We are a friendly neighborhood cafe that oh by the way doesn’t happen to have meat on the menu,” Hoban says. “It’s not the first thing that hits you in the face, which I have purposely done to get the non-vegans to come.”

What is noticeable is the serene ambiance and delightful decor dreamed up by interior designer Amanda Gorski. The historic Heights Waterworks building is a visual feast with original lofty ceilings, big industrial windows, cement floors and white wall tiles covered in a new splash of white paint and smoked mirrors. Robin’s egg blue banquettes give Verdine a French bistro floating in the clouds feel.

Plants and glass vases of fresh flowers add an eco-friendly touch. There’s even a patio for those days when you want your sushi with a side of sweat in Houston’s humidity.

Bonus points come for the beer and wine list heavy with locals such as Saint Arnold. Verdine is the kind of place you could linger with friends.

“Houston needed a restaurant like this for so long,” Hoban says. “We are a destination restaurant, we have people telling us they drive in from Katy, Sugar Land, from all over.”

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