One of Houston’s most culture-filled and pedestrian-friendly sectors, the Museum District is a haven for artists and art-lovers alike, touting 19 diverse museums alongside 4 walkable zones. From the acclaimed Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston to the celebrated Rothko Chapel and Asia Society Texas Center, the neighborhood's institutions truly offer something for everyone — a quality that also extends to its surrounding small businesses. Nestled between statuesque museums and public art displays, these five local favorites are beefing up Houston’s most artsy neighborhood.
Courtesy of @reggaehut on Instagram
Fans of Caribbean food can get their fix at this Houston locale, Reggae Hut — sister restaurant of famed local hot spot, The Breakfast Klub. Owner Marcus Davis serves up an island oasis smack dab in the middle of the city, showcasing the soul of the Caribbean on a plate with a collection of classic dishes and flavors from the region. Start your meal with traditional tastes like Beef and Chicken Patties, Cocoa Bread, or Plantains. For your main course, proteins like Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, and Oxtails exists alongside seafood staples like Garlic Shrimp, Escovitch Snapper, and the Cuban Creole Sampler — all of which are served with a side of rice & peas, vegetable medley, or Caribbean potato salad.
Courtesy of @javalavabrew on Instagram
JAVA LAVA BREW CAFE
Say aloha to Java Lava Brew, a cafe and coffee shop showcasing Houston’s diversity through its Hawaiian and Vietnamese-inspired flavors. The star of Java Lava’s unique operation — 100% Kona Coffee that is grown and hand-picked from the locale’s Karmasu Estate Farm. What you won’t find here is the typical cafe sandwich and salad. Java Lava’s owners have channeled their own identities and history to create a menu that spotlights their roots in Houston, Hawaii, and Vietnam. That makes for dishes likes Kailua Pork Tamales, Spam Musubi, Kona Pancakes made with macadamia nut mix, and Coconut Curry Chicken — a recipe straight from Mom.
Courtesy of @bodegastacosho on Instagram
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner — you’ll find fast-casual Tex-Mex with a side of whimsical surrounds at Bodegas Taco Shop. Just one block from the district’s major museums, the locally-owned restaurant specializes in all things Build-Your-Own. You name it, they customize it — burritos, tacos, nachos, taco salads, bowls, quesadillas, tostadas, and everything in between. For the menu traditionalist, Bodegas also offers a series of meal combos that tout perfectly composed plates of everything from Rotisserie Chicken paired with Tortillas to Mexican Pizza and Fish Tacos. A modern Tex-Mex meal wouldn’t be complete without a top-shelf margarita — luckily, Bodegas rendition is a Houston fan favorite.
Courtesy of @shophmns on Instagram
HMNS MUSEUM STORE
The wonderment of science comes alive inside of the HMNS Museum Store. Whether you’ve just browsed the Houston Museum of Natural Science, or you’re simply on the hunt for your favorite science lover, this shop offers a bounty for anyone on a mission to bring the natural world home. On the shelves — space science kits, butterfly displays, fossil and mineral collectibles, take-home science experiments, astronaut ice cream, dinosaur paraphernalia, books galore, grow-your-own-mineral kits, and everything in between.
Courtesy of @lucilleshouston on Instagram
Nestled in a 1923 Mission-style home in the heart of the Museum District, Lucille's is a tribute to the tradition created by chef-owner Chris Williams’ great-grandmother, Lucille B. Smith, — a culinary pioneer who is often regarded as Texas’ first African American businesswoman. Today, the restaurant pays homage to its namesake by replicating some of her most famous recipes, including her iconic chili biscuits and hot rolls, while embellishing others to create unique takes on Southern food classics with the infusion of international flavors and techniques. Think everything from Fried Green Tomatoes and Yard Bird to Braised Oxtails and Shrimp & Grits.