Hot New Place
Why these Texas eateries are clamoring for a spot at Houston's Heights Waterworks
Houston's hottest new retail development keeps heating up — especially where coffee and burgers are concerned. Heights Waterworks, the rapidly growing community of shops and restaurants at the intersection of W. 19th and Nicholson streets, has added two beloved Texas brands to its roster of tenants.
Austin-based Hopdoddy and Dallas coffee shop Ascension have each signed on, demonstrating that the Heights is where all the cool kids are heading.
Braun Enterprises is the group behind Heights Waterworks, which means it's in very good hands. They have previously developed over 40 inner-city projects, and Heights Waterworks should be the most exciting of them all. They're the team that brought Torchy's Tacos to the Heights in 2012, resuscitating the historic Harold's building across the street from Heights Waterworks.
There are four buildings that make up Heights Waterworks, two of which are currently available for lease: the Reservoir, which has a storied history as the area's water plant, and Building B, which is sandwiched between Hopdoddy and Ascension.
"This is our 25th project in the Heights area," says Braun Enterprises leasing director Zachary Wolf. "Our intent is to embrace the area's walkability and help continue to connect Yale to Shepherd along 19th Street."
Nineteenth Street, he adds, "has always been the bullseye in the Heights for retail, and by adding four freestanding restaurants, we hope to make this an area for the community to gather."
Like Hopdoddy and Ascension, many other major restaurants are expanding out of their initial markets to join the area near the booming development, including Superica by Atlanta chef Ford Fry (who also owns State of Grace in River Oaks), Snooze, Mellow Mushroom, and Tarka Indian Kitchen. James Beard Award winner Justin Yu and acclaimed bartender Bobby Heugel teamed up to open Better Luck Tomorrow, a casual patio bar with great food and a fun atmosphere. Local Houston favorites Bernie’s Burger Bus, Rice Box, Liberty Kitchen, and Morningstar Donuts have also joined in on the fun in the Heights, making it Houston's hottest neighborhood for new restaurants.
Grocery stores, too, are heeding the call and heading to the area, with local fave H-E-B set to open a new location at the end of 2018 and the lower-priced Whole Foods 365 currently under construction.
Amid this restaurant cornucopia, there's also plenty of enviable shopping to be found. Houstonians already know 19th Street as a destination for off-beat, independently owned concepts like Manready Mercantile, Big Blue Whale, and Vinyl Edge Records. In the last month, Lululemon, Warby Parker, Marine Layer, Saint Lo Boutique, and Chubbies have all recently opened at nearby Heights Mercantile, and there is plenty of space in the neighborhood for more shops to move in.
It's conceivable to spend a whole day at Heights Waterworks, as its walkable, greenery-filled setting creates an alluring atmosphere. There is even a hike and bike trail adjacent to the property, if you need to work off a burger or if shopping just isn't enough cardio.
Or why not just live nearby? The Alliance Residential apartments are going up across the street, with 309 units over eight stories. And don't pretend like a neighborhood coffee shop isn't a major selling point, to say nothing of the ability to see concerts by walking to the renovated Heights Theater, where big-name acts Iron & Wine, Jack Ingram, and Joan Osborn are all on the upcoming schedule.
Another mixed-use development is expected to move in where the Chase bank currently resides, so this area is only going to continue to grow. And tempting though it may sound, we can't all live on burgers and coffee alone. Thankfully, Heights Waterworks still has a couple of available spaces for additional concepts. Whatever comes next, the neighborhood will maintain its charm while still welcoming newcomers.