Inspired by Inside Atlanta, a series created by Atlanta Expert, Kate Parham Kordsmeier, we'd like to introduce Inside Houston. Each month, we'll be interviewing prominent Houstonians on their favorite things to eat, see and do in the Bayou City.
This month, we're sitting down with Mark Haber, store manager of Brazos Bookstore. Known for its well-curated collection of books, community events, and expert recommendations, Brazos is widely considered one of Houston's best independently-owned bookstores and an integral part of the Houston community. Haber oversees the day-to-day bustle of Brazos, as well as the store's increasingly popular monthly book club. He's also the author of Deathbed Conversions, a collection of short stories (available at Brazos, of course).
Prior to arriving in Houston in 2013, Haber lived in Washington, D.C., Florida, and even Los Angeles for a few years where he was — as he puts it — "a struggling writer... in essence, being a cliche."
I live in ... "Montrose, and I love it. In fact, I’ve never lived anywhere else in Houston. What’s great about Montrose (and the same can be said for much of Houston) is the eclectic mix of old and new. There are those great, looming oak trees and old architecture nestled together, and not five blocks away is great Tex-Mex or Mediterranean food. There’s also a plethora of small, independent coffee shops — there are literally nine different coffee shops in Montrose alone, and they’re always busy!"
You can find me ... "If I’m not at the bookstore, I’m either reading, writing or running. Solitary endeavors, to be sure, but my favorites nonetheless. I enjoy getting a coffee at Siphon or Southside Espresso. When the weather is cooler, I love running around Rice University."
I wish people knew ... "the amount of culture that Houston has. There are not just museums, but a museum district! A theater district, too. There are tons of art and small shops and galleries and infinite choices for good food. I know the word get’s thrown around a lot, but I wish people were more aware of Houston’s diversity. I really think it’s Houston’s greatest strength."
It's dinner time. I'm headed to ... "Hands down, Simply Pho in Midtown. Houston is packed with great Vietnamese food — in Midtown and Bellaire especially — but Simply Pho is our favorite. They’re friendly, inexpensive and incapable of making a bad dish. My wife and I go there at least once, sometimes twice a week."
Houston’s best-kept secret is ... "the parks. From Hermann Park to Discovery Green to simply walking around Rice University... People tend to think of Houston as this endless urban sprawl — and there is that aspect — however, there are a lot of green spaces, too."
When I'm playing tourist, I like to go to ... "the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Menil Collection. They never let you down."
When I want to unwind, I go to ... "the warm confines of my apartment with all of my books!"
My favorite place to get fresh air in the area is ... "Rice University with all of the oak trees there. If the weather would cooperate, I could walk around Rice every day of the year."
My favorite weekend activities in the Houston metro area are ... "On the occasional weekend off, I’ll go to the Heights with my wife and just window shop or get a coffee. I also love the Airline Farmer’s market in the Heights."
The thing I love most about Houston is ... "the warmth of the people. When we first moved here and people discovered we were new to the city, they kept saying, ‘Welcome to Houston.’ That was refreshing."