Immediately east of upscale River Oaks and west of bustling downtown sits an area of Houston as unique and varied as the businesses and residents who call it home: Montrose. From local hangouts and tattoo parlors to museums and a university, and peppered with the city’s most diverse and delectable dining, there is something for everyone in this one-of-a-kind Houston neighborhood.
Named after the historic town in Scotland, Montrose was established in 1911 by prominent Houston Land Corporation owner John Wiley Link. Like many other historical Houston neighborhoods, Montrose was conceptualized as a planned residential community from which inhabitants could commute to work in nearby downtown. Link built a residence in Montrose (the grand Link-Lee Mansion), which currently serves as the executive offices of the University of St. Thomas.
Though beautiful historic mansions still remain in Montrose, the area offers a diverse display of housing, including bungalows, cottages, townhomes and contemporary lofts. Over the decades, Montrose has attracted some of the city’s most artistic, intellectual and important figures: former Texas Governor Ross. S. Sterling, President Lyndon B. Johnson, famed aviator Howard Hughes, and actor Clark Gable all have called Montrose home.
Montrose is part of the Houston Independent School District. Residents attend MacGregor, Poe, Wharton, or Wilson Elementary schools; Lanier Middle School or Gregory-Lincoln Education Center; and Lamar High School. The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (notable alum: Beyonce’) is an award-winning magnet school with departments for dance, creative writing, vocal and instrumental music, visual art and theater. Montrose is also home to the University of St. Thomas, a private Catholic university situated right off Montrose Boulevard between West Alabama and Richmond Avenue.
The cultural diversity of Montrose is never more evident than in its dizzying array of restaurants. You can’t throw a rock without hitting one of them, and with over 200 eateries within its borders, there is a seemingly endless variety of world cuisine to satisfy every craving.
Try Baba Yega or Hugo’s for a fantastic brunch; get your Greek on at the famous Niko Niko’s, or wander across the street to Aladdin Mediterranean for an authentic taste of Mediterranean classics. Visit The Hay Merchant for craft beer and a unique twist on comfort food, or Da Marco for outstanding Italian. Enjoy some of the many upscale eateries such as Mark’s American Cuisine, or go for a casual taste of New Orleans at BB’s Café. If you can’t find something to eat in Montrose … well, then you’re obviously not hungry.
With its central location and plethora of outdoor spaces, Montrose is always abuzz with activity. Montrose is home to the annual Houston Greek Festival and the Houston Italian Festival. From Montrose, you’re just a short skip away from Houston’s Museum District, where you can visit world-class museums of art, natural science and history. Montrose itself is home to the Menil Collection, a free art museum as famous for its architecture is it is for the works of art it contains. If you’re into architecture, the nearby non-denominational Rothko Chapel is a must-see.
Parks include Ervan Chew Park, the first park in Houston to allow dogs to run around sans-leashes. Mandell Park includes an organic community garden to educate the public. Cherryhurst Park, nestled just two blocks north of Westheimer, offers reprieve from the bustling city with its playground and tennis courts.
Whether you were born and raised in Houston or you’re new to the area, be sure to visit (and revisit) Montrose; you can count on this Houston neighborhood to deliver something delightfully unexpected.