Westheimer is one of — if not the — most important streets in the city. For the history buffs out there, it is named after a German immigrant named Michael Louis Westheimer who settled in Houston in 1859. It is in the storied Montrose neighborhood.
Noted journalist John Nova Lomax once referenced Houston’s fabled Westheimer saying, “more than any other thoroughfare, [Westheimer] embodies Houston's car-enamored, zoning-free ethos, a damn-near 20-mile phantasmagoria of strip malls, storage facilities, restaurants, big-box retail, office parks, apartment complexes, strip clubs, malls, supermarkets and the occasional church.” That’s probably the best way anybody will ever describe it.
Even if you're not up to treking the entire street, this walking tour hits all the hot spots along an eclectic strip of the lower Westheimer district located between South Shepherd and Montrose.
Begin near the Westheimer and Dunlavy intersection, and head north. For this first half of the trip, all of the stores listed are on the same side of the street that you’re walking on.
Brasil is located on the bustling corner of Westheimer and Dunvaly. In addition to its vegetarian-friendly food menu, this eatery also serves coffee, beer, and wine and features live indie music performances on a regular basis. While the crowd is diverse, the staff and ambiance are decidedly artsy.
Taxi-Taxi is one of the better buy-sell-trade vintage clothing stores in the city — let alone this strip. There’s also a piercing salon in back called the Vault, in case you wanted to get your nose pierced to match that rad leather jacket you just bought.
If you’re there to try and sell them some of your clothes, you are open to judgment. Other than that, the place is fairly snark-free.
Note: Taxi-Taxi sells new items as well and print custom t-shirts.
As the name implies, this is an antique store. It’s a little more trendy than most, as it mostly focuses on 50’s and 60’s pop culture and novelties like soda machines, jukeboxes, pinball machines, and tin lunch boxes. It is , acceptable to refer to it as “the place with $4000 Big Boy statue in the window,” and while you might not buy anything, it's worth a peek inside just to look around.
Hugo's Mexican Restaurant
Crossing Westheimer at Mandell Street and heading back south, you’ll run into Hugo’s, an authentic regional Mexican restaurant, and one of the best eateries in Houston. Hugo’s is known for their Sunday brunch, an extravaganza that features — among other things — tamales, stuffed poblanos, and abuelita-style hot chocolate.
Pro tip: The menu can get a little pricey. Drop by during happy hour for great deals on a variety of appetizers and drinks, including Hugo's famous mojito.
Shaw's Tattoo Studio
This particular tattoo parlor has been opened since 1979 and is said to be Houston’s first licensed tattoo shop. Rumor has it, they specialize in tribal, fine line and custom tattooing, but unlike many other tattoo parlors, Shaw's doesn't provide piercing services.
Historical Tidbit: Per its website, Larry Shaw, the shop’s owner, recently sold the oldest tattoo studio in the world back in 2004. The Long Beach, California location opened in 1927.
Shaw’s is adjacent to the Montrose staple, Hollywood Food Store, the go-to place for rolling papers, clove cigarettes, the New York Times and porn galore.
Finish off your trip by stopping off at Empire Café, the semi-upscale neighborhood café located at the corner of Westheimer and Elmen. Empire serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has a great selection of desserts. This place is always good for happy hour, as they feature an extensive wine list, international beers, and specialty drinks. The huge, shaded patio is a nice touch as well.