Common Bond

Dining in Montrose

It's easy to find great food in Houston's gayborhood

Looking for a bite to eat in Houston’s "gayborhood"? Montrose has long been a restaurant lover’s dream, with fun and quirky eateries spread along Westheimer, Montrose Boulevard and deeper inside this eclectic district. Now a bunch of new spots are joining the old favorites, creating a unique foodie destination for locals and visitors alike.

1308 Cantina
Elegant earth tones and a refined menu define this grill and margarita bar owned by local Tex-Mex mavens, the Laurenzos (Ninfas, El Tiempo Cantina). The menu features classics like tacos, tamales, chalupas, enchiladas and combo plates while house specialties involve the oak grill for savory fajitas, quail, baby back ribs and jalapeno sausage. How it’s gay friendly: This is the place to be on Friday nights after 6 p.m. Gay guys flock here for the skinny margs and the fajitas.

Baba Yega
Since 1975, this converted bungalow-turned-eatery has charmed regulars with healthy fare and hearty portions. A crowd as eclectic as the menu dines in cozy tables throughout the house--on the back veranda with a view of the tranquil gardens and koi pond, oak-tree shaded front patio (ideal for people-watching) or the antique-filled main dining area. How it’s gay friendly: Baba Yega is in the middle of the Pacific Street gay scene.  Because of that, the restaurant caters to a predominantly gay clientele. Definitely try the brunch buffet.

Barnaby's Cafe Montrose
Constantly humming with lively conversation, this cozy cafe is a popular Montrose neighborhood hangout. The snug diner features fresh, uncomplicated, contemporary food. The service is quick, and the price is right. How it’s gay friendly: From the sheepdog mascot surrounded by rainbows to the service with a little sass wait staff, Barnaby’s is where the boys gather to gossip for Sunday brunch.

BB’s
Set in a strip center in the heart of Montrose, BB’s offers up Gulf Coast cuisine and New Orleans-inspired fare with a Texas twist.  Dig into one of 15 different po’boy varieties, as well as wallet-friendly Cajun favorites like Bubba Lump salad, boudin balls and gumbo. There's also a great selection of frozen daquiris, you can even take some "2 geaux". How it’s gay friendly: What’s better when you leave the bars late at night than a greasy po-boy within walking distance? Yeah that’s right.

Brasil
Artsy types, poetry buffs and music lovers from all walks of life count this warm coffeehouse as a favorite. Contemporary art by local artisans adorns the walls, and tiny metal tables with South American Kokopelli-type creatures carved into the tops line a performance area. How it’s gay friendly: Brasil is a neighborhood hangout for the artistic gay set and a favorite spot for stimulating conversation.

Canopy
Expect well-prepared items at this stylishly-chic bistro like buttermilk fried pork loin, crab remoulade and heirloom tomato salad, oven-roasted natural chicken and chocolate hazelnut tart. How it’s gay friendly: Canopy is a perfectly romantic spot for a date that’s convenient to pre- and after-dinner cocktail stops. 

Common Bond
Located at Westheimer and Dunlavy,  Common Bond bakery and cafe offers an impressive savory menu as well as a vast array of viennoiserie, pastry, bread, gelato and more. Come for breakfast, lunch or a late afternoon pastry and cup of coffee. The 3,600 square foot space exudes upscale offerings in a casual yet elegant setting, with lots of wood, concrete and glass accents. But the focus of the café, or course, is the 24-foot rustic contemporary bakery case.

El Real
Back in the good old days, before there were pre-formed taco shells and canned enchilada sauces, restaurant Tex-Mex was just like homemade. El Real Tex-Mex café offers the same homestyle flavors-and the same fresh-fried taco shells, house made chili powder, and made-from-scratch enchilada sauces that your grandparents once enjoyed. How it’s gay friendly: Located right near the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer, El Real has rehabilitated a historic theater building and brought new life to an area that once housed Houston’s gay and lesbian bookstore.

Hugo's
This restaurant is housed in a 1925 structure designed and built by Houston architect Joseph Finger, who is also responsible for Houston’s Art Deco-style City Hall. The Latin-inspired building has been lovingly restored to feature its original beauty, and the interiors designed to include both "chic" contemporary touches and inviting traditional elements of old Mexico. Chef Hugo Ortega features refined Mexico City classics with a contemporary twist. How it’s gay friendly: Easily some of the best gourmet Mexican fare in Houston, Hugo’s is a must for a date close to the action just a few blocks away.

Jenni's Noodle House
It's hard to say which is more alluring: the jaw-droppingly cheap prices or the winking, witty atmosphere. In either case, this unassuming Vietnamese-American establishment gives customers expertly prepared Vietnamese food at remarkably reasonable rates. How it’s gay friendly: Jenni’s is a favorite gay hangout. Maybe it’s the fun sayings like "it’s all good in the noodlehood" or the fact that Jenni’s is a big supporter of LGBT causes, including Pride Houston.

Niko Niko's
No matter the time of day or night, diverse followers crowd into this zany-looking, converted service station and wait to order at the bustling counter. Gyros don't get much better than this: Moist, aromatic lamb slices are blanketed by a warm, plushy pita with sweet onions and creamy cucumber-garlic tzatziki sauce. Chickpea croquettes (falafel) sauced with sesame-scented tahini are savory and non-greasy. How it’s gay friendly: When it’s just you and the gang looking for something cheap and tasty, this is the spot. The lines can get long, but we think it’s because people are ogling a couple of the hotties behind the counter. 

Uchi
James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole's signature restaurant near the intersection of Montrose Boulevard and Westheimer is intimate and sophisticated. The entire restaurant revolves around the open kitchen and sushi bar where Far Eastern delicacies are turned out to rave reviews. 

Underbelly
The tagline, "The Story of Houston Food," sums up Chris Shepherd's vision for Underbelly: A menu showcasing local ingredients, as well as the chef's culinary experiences in the city. Everything from his frequent farmers market visits to his passion for local cuisine is reflected in the menu, as well as the restaurant design (the spot is housed in the same building that formerly held the lesbian bar Chances). The chef is even working directly with area ranchers to raise his own pigs, goats and other animals.

Written by: A.J. Mistretta

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